Monthly Archives: July 2014

TN Forum thinks Cooper should do something about illegal immigrant children

News release from Tennessee Forum:
NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Forum today chastised Tennessee’s Supreme Court-appointed Attorney General Bob Cooper for failing to take any action against the federal government for releasing 760 illegal immigrants into the state of Tennessee.

“Barack Obama has once again imposed what amounts to an unfunded mandate on the state of Tennessee and once again Bob Cooper has failed to act,” said Susan Kaestner, president of the Tennessee Forum. “This is just the most recent example of what happens when you have a liberal Supreme Court appointing a liberal attorney general.”

“An attorney general is supposed to look out for the legal interests of the people of Tennessee. When the federal government falls short or oversteps, we need to have an attorney general we can count on to stand up for our interests,” Kaestner explained.

“Connie Clark and Gary Wade did not call Cooper to the carpet for his refusal to stand up against Obamacare. Instead they defended his actions. Now he has gone and done it again,” Kaestner stated. “How much abuse must our state take from the Obama administration before our Supreme Court and its attorney general deem it appropriate to fight back?”

“It is time to vote replace and send this liberal Supreme Court home. Maybe then we can get an attorney general who actually stands up for the state and looks out for the interests of Tennesseans,” Kaestner concluded.

Bill Haslam wrote in a letter to President Obama last week that he had learned of the White House’s dumping of 760 illegal immigrants in Tennessee only after seeing a notification on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. He had previously asked the Obama administration to give him advance notice of any illegals who were on their way to his state.

As of this writing, the Attorney General Cooper has made no public statements on the matter and taken no legal action.

Attorney General Cooper previously failed to stand up for Tennessee by refusing to join any of the various multi-state suits against Obamacare. Supreme Court Judges Connie Clark and Gary Wade defended his refusal. Wade said it was the “right decision for taxpayers.” Clark argued that the refusal was justified because Obamacare was a “federal issue.”

Alexander spends $1.34M in 18 days of July; Flinn $402K

Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign spent $1.34 million, much of it on television broadcast and cable ads, during the first 18 days of July as he ramped up his GOP primary effort for early voting in Tennessee, the Chattanooga TFP’s review of his disclosure shows.

The two-term senator reported to the Senate Secretary’s Office of Public Records that he had $2.19 million in cash on hand as of July 18. Alexander reported receiving $129,138 in contributions July 1-18.

But one of Alexander’s rivals in the Aug. 7 primary, tea party favorite Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, had just $170,000 in cash on hand at the end of the preprimary reporting period, campaign manager Donald Rickard said in an email to the Times Free Press.

Carr raised about $70,000 in the period, Rickard said. He had reported a cash balance of $442,000 at the end of the second quarter on June 30. But some of his contributions were made for the general election and can’t be used in the primary.

Rickard did not respond to an inquiry on whether the campaign can afford to get back on broadcast television in a meaningful way.

…Dr. George Flinn, a Memphis radiologist and radio station owner running in the GOP primary, reported spending $402,000, with much of the money going for television and radio advertising and direct mail.

Flinn is largely self-funding his campaign with a $1.8 million no-interest loan. He reported no contributions during the early July period. But he still had $1.26 million he can spend and be competitive with Alexander.

Christian conservative FACT gives most TN legislators 100 on scorecard

The Family Action Council of Tennessee has issued its scorecard on the 108th General Assembly, reporting that a majority of the Senate and almost half of House members voted with the Christian conservative organization 100 percent of the time on issues FACT considered important.

The legislation scored ranges from Sen. Stacey Campfield’s so-called “Merry Christmas bill” to a measure overhauling the State Textbook Commission.

Nineteen senators got a perfect FACT score, including retiring Democrat Doug Henry of Nashville. The lowest Senate score was a 67 for three senators – Democrat Thelma Harper of Nashville and Republicans Steve Dickerson of Nashville and Doug Overbey of Maryville.

In the House, 49 representatives got 100 percent, including Democrats David Shepard of Dickson and John Tidwell of New Johnsonville. The lowest scores, 38 percent, went to Democrats JoAnn Favors of Chattanooga, Joe Pitts of Clarksville and Mike Stewart of Nashville. Retiring Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland had the lowest score for a Republican, 63 percent.

The Senate list is HERE
The House list is broken into three pdf chunks, by district. District 1-33 HERE, Districts 34-66 HERE, and District 67-99 HERE.

Supremes’ counterattack TV ad: Critics telling a ‘Complete whopper’

News release from Keep Tennessee Courts Fair
NASHVILLE – A new television ad going up in markets across Tennessee tomorrow (Wednesday) provides a “truth test” for all of the “whoppers” told by those now airing false, negative attacks against Justices Connie Clark, Sharon Lee and Chief Justice Gary Wade.

“Since the beginning, politicians with the intent of a monstrous power grab of our judiciary skewed the truth. Now they are aided by out-of-state, dark money groups who spread the lies,” said Keep Tennessee Courts Fair Manager Brenda Gadd. “We felt it necessary to set the record straight that our Justices have upheld the death penalty about 90 percent of the time, are supported by prosecutors and the State Fraternal Order of Police for the tough on crime positions, and that allegations they are at all connected to the federal Obamacare or ACA law is simply false.”

Latest campaign finance figures in 3rd, 4th Congressional District races

The latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission in congressional races cover the “pre-primary” period, July 1 through July 18. Here are the figures in Tennessee’s two most hotly contested U.S. House primaries, the 3rd District, pitting U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann against Weston Wamp, and the 4th District, pitting U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais against state Sen. Jim Tracy:

3rd District

Fleischman: Raised $62,627; spent $416,861, balance $343,266.

Wamp: Raised $20,317; spent $362,945; balance $83,161

Chattanooga TFP’s write-up on the figures is HERE.

4th District

DesJarlais: Raised $41,880; spent $113,492; balance $112,892

Tracy: Raised $21,312; spent $422,744; balance $353,682. (Note: Tracy loaned his campaign $50,000)

A Chattanooga TFP write-up on the figures is HERE.

Memphis woman becomes 2nd charged under drug-abusing mother law

After a high-profile search that lasted five days, Memphis police on Monday night arrested a woman accused of giving birth to a baby who tested positive for drugs.

Jamillah Washington, 30, also known as Jamillah Falls, faces a charge of simple assault after her daughter Messiah, born July 5, tested positive for marijuana and heroin, police said. According to an affidavit released late Monday, Washington last used heroin two days before the girl was born.

The new Tennessee law that provides for such arrests was the subject of considerable debate and discussion in the two state legislative sessions that it took to pass it.

…After a July 23 arrest warrant, Washington surrendered to authorities Monday night, Shelby County Sheriff’s spokesman Chip Washington said. She is the first Shelby County woman and the second in the state charged under the law. The affidavit also says this is Washington’s fifth child, but the only one to survive birth.

Note: The ACLU is preparing to challenge the law in court. (Previous post HERE). The CA article has some background on legislative enactment of the law. A couple of previous post samples on that, HERE and HERE.

Audit finds $319K missing from Wayne Schools, 4 employees blamed

News release from state comptroller’s office:
Four former employees of the Wayne County School Department are to blame for a $319,134.58 shortage in school accounts. The Comptroller’s Office, in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service began investigating after comptroller auditors discovered discrepancies during their annual audit.

Investigators confirmed the former grants coordinator and three former bookkeepers received $183,474.25 in unauthorized payroll payments and classified them to teacher salary account codes. These payments were in addition to their budgeted salaries.

Investigators also uncovered personal purchases on the School Department’s Wal-Mart credit cards. These purchases included more than $77,176.69 in gift cards and related fees, as well as $58,483.64 in groceries and personal items. The credit cards were assigned to the former General Purpose School Fund bookkeeper.

The investigative report outlines several concerns with the school system’s money-handling practices. Managers should ensure that no employee has complete control over payroll duties, and managers should regularly review credit card purchases.

School leaders indicate they have implemented new checks and balances to prevent a recurrence.

“There is no place for fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer money in government,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “While these findings are troubling, I am hopeful that changes are being made to correct the problems we’ve identified, and restore trust in the School Department.”

To view the investigation online, go to:

Washington Post: In TN, it’s tea party versus Howard Baker’s legacy

The Washington Post has an interesting (and lengthy) look at Tennessee’s ongoing U.S. Senate campaign and the state’s voting traditions. An excerpt:

(In Tennessee,) the tea party activists are competing against more than just one sitting senator and a Republican establishment lined up behind him. They are running against Baker’s legacy — a culture of Republican politics that has married conservative principles with pragmatic attitudes about governing.

For half a century, Tennessee voters have elected a succession of Republicans to statewide office who are more problem-solvers than ideologues, consensus-seekers rather than rabble-rousers. The current trio — Alexander, Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam — all embody in one way or another the Baker tradition.

“They don’t want big government, but they do want government to work,” said John Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University.

… Chip Saltsman, a GOP strategist and former Tennessee Republican Party chairman, said of the three, “There’s not a hard edge to them.”

… Carr, in a telephone interview, said Alexander is insufficiently conservative, wrong for having supported an overhaul of immigration law and far too willing to work with Democrats, and even President Obama. He called Baker a “great statesman” but said this of Baker and Alexander’s style of politics: “I don’t believe it’s suited to the times we’re in.”

Alexander believes Baker’s approach is as vital today as ever. Every Republican in the Senate, he said, is a conservative. “It’s like saying, ‘Who’s the skinniest offensive tackle?’ They’re all over 300 pounds, so what’s the difference?”

He argued that governing a complex country in difficult times requires developing relationships and finding consensus across party lines. The real conflict inside the Republican Party is not conservatives vs. moderates, he said, but rather “between conservatives who think their job is finished when they make a speech and conservatives who want to govern.”

… Over many years, Tennessee has produced a striking number of senators from both parties who have achieved national prominence. Many ran for the presidency or were considered presidential material — Democratic senators such as Al Gore (and before him Estes Kefauver and Albert Gore Sr.) and Republicans such as Fred Thompson and Bill Frist, who rose to majority leader (and before them Bill Brock). Past governors have been cut from the same cloth — Republican Don Sundquist and or Democrats Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen.

“What there is [in Tennessee] is a tradition of electing honorable, capable, thoughtful leaders,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who is working for Alexander and Haslam this year. “It happens in Tennessee in a way that it hasn’t in almost any other state, and it’s been going on for decades.”

New state policy bans crossover voting by election commissioners; validity questioned

The public censure of Maury County Election Commissioner Lynn Nelson of Columbia has led to a new state policy subjecting county election commission members to removal if they cross over to vote in the opposite party’s primary, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.

The Republican-controlled State Election Commission censured Nelson — vice president of the Maury County Democratic Party — last week for voting in the Republican primary in May. The panel then approved the new rule as submitted by State Election Coordinator Mark Goins’ office.

“While serving on the county election commission a county election commission member should not vote in a primary of the opposite party which they represent. If a county election commissioner plans on doing so they should resign prior to voting or they will be subject to removal by the State Election Commission,” the new policy says.A copy of the new policy has been sent to election commissions in all 95 Tennessee counties, Goins said.

He said Nelson apologized to the state commission during the meeting and said he had cast a ballot in the primary to “vote against someone.

”Nelson admitted voting the primary but insists he was unaware of the law.

“I shouldn’t have voted in it, probably,” Nelson said Monday. “At the time I voted, I was not aware the law was even in existence. “He said he voted because there was some “issues” he felt strongly about.

The Maury County Election Commission voted 3-2 in May to censure Nelson after being challenged by Bill Anderson, an election commissioner and a member of the Maury County Republican Party.

…The May primary was the first-ever local Republican party in Maury County and caused some confusion about who is eligible to cast a ballot. State statute limits voting in a primary to a bona fide member of the sponsoring party or a voter who declares allegiance to that political party.

Nelson said he appeared before the state election commission last week with his attorney.

He said the panel’s newest member — Donna Rowland Barrett, a Republican and former state representative — initially made a motion to remove Nelson from office but the attempt died lacking a second.The commission then voted unanimously to censure him, Nelson said.

“I think that they were fair,” he said. “I’m satisfied with this.”

Note: A member of the Hamilton County Election Commission thinks the new policy may violate both the federal and state constitutions, according to the Chattanooga TFP.

Chattanooga attorney Jerry Summers, a Democratic member on the Hamilton County Election Commission.

Summers said Saturday in an interview that he doesn’t believe the state’s order passes muster under federal guarantees of free speech and assembly under the U.S. Constitution.

“I think there’s a serious First Amendment issue involved here,” Summers said Saturday.

In fact, added Summers, who prior to his appointment served as the local election commission’s counsel, he thinks the new rule may also violate the Tennessee Constitution.

In Summers’ view, both federal and state Constitutions “would take precedence if this position of infringing upon the rights of people to vote” and thus would “supersede the policy of the State Election Commission.”

Summers said he’s already voted in the Democratic Party primary and he doesn’t have much interest voting in a GOP primary generally. The State Election Commission appoints county election commissioners upon recommendation by local state legislators who nominate members of their own party.