Tom Ingram identified as ‘campaign consultant to the governor’ in some ethics filings

Though Gov. Bill Haslam’s personal payments to Tom Ingram over the past two years have been repeatedly described as covering non-political consulting, Ingram has elsewhere depicted his relationship with the governor as “campaign consultant” and “political consultant,” reports Andy Sher.

A review of Ingram’s 17 state lobbyist registrations with the Tennessee Ethics Commission turns up three instances in the past 22 months in which Ingram’s relationship with Haslam is identified as either “campaign consultant to the governor” or “consultant to campaign for governor.”

Filings involved were Ingram’s 2012 and 2013 registrations for Xerox Corp. and a 2013 filing for McGuiness Group.
Ingram disclosed the relationship under a provision requiring lobbyists to disclose what “business arrangements” they have with government officials.

In his other registrations, Ingram described his relationship with the governor in terms such as “consultant,” “general consultant,” “independent consultant” and sometimes as “political consultant.”

Ingram said… he didn’t file the disclosures himself, noting they’re “filed on a pro forma basis,” indicating it was done by someone else at The Ingram Group, the public affairs and strategic consulting firm that bears his name.

…Former Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said he plans to look at the registrations before he refiles a complaint against Haslam, a Republican, later this month with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

“I intend to review that and certainly give those [registrations] consideration” as he gathers documents to restate his case, which registry members dismissed this month, Forrester said.

“If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck it is a duck. This is hair-splitting by the governor,” said Forrester, who alleges Haslam broke the law by paying Ingram personally instead of from his campaign account, which is publicly disclosed.

…Ingram said Friday he had properly disclosed his business arrangement with Haslam all along as required and none of his paid work involved the 2014 campaign.

As for the three registrations, he said “whatever it said, we said. But whatever we did, we did.”