Rep. Matthew Hill under attack for dealings with brother legislator

Phil Carriger, challenging Rep. Matthew Hill in the House District 7 Republican primary, has a new ad contending that the House Local Government Committee chairman and his family have engaged in “unethical campaign practices,” reports WJHL TV. Hill says the ad is despicable and shows Carriger is “in the mud.”

However, a review of the Hills’ campaign finance filings over the years shows Carriger’s claims are based on facts.

The ad, called Fishy Family Finances, among other things accuses Rep. Hill of taking thousands in campaign contributions and steering that cash into his family’s businesses.

“Politics really is the family business in more ways than one,” the ad says.

Carriger says he’s not accusing the Hills of doing anything illegal, but he does feel “there are conflicts there.”

“From the evidence it looks like they’re getting this PAC money in and they’re running it through the companies they own and then do the marketing for the campaigns,” Carriger said. “It looks to me like the Hill family is getting some income through their PACS coming through their companies.”

Our review of campaign finance filings shows Rep. Hill has given two family businesses, both of which are now run out of homes, a lot of money from his campaign over the years. In fact, those disclosures suggest if Hill wasn’t in office those two companies likely wouldn’t have received $49,696.13 in business over the years.

One of those businesses is Sterling Strategies. “This is a PR company that my brother owns,” Hill said.

Rep. Timothy Hill says he runs Sterling Strategies out of his home in Blountville. Timothy says the “boutique” company he created in college now has five to 10 customers a year…”It’s mostly PR and advertising… We have also done fundraising. I have done mailers and fundraising for multiple candidates across the state…we’ve done video production.”

From 2008 to 2012, his brother has remained one of those customers. Records show since 2008 Matthew has paid the company $34,430.47 for a variety of campaign services including advertising, professional services, fans, fundraising and radio advertising.

Right Way Marketing is the second company in question. “I own a minor percentage of it, but Timothy is the one that runs this,” Hill said. That may be true now, but his 2014 statement of disclosure of interests reveals Matthew was the director of the mostly campaign-based marketing company up until April of this year.