Chamber and Kelsey differ on Insure TN, collaborate otherwise

Before a Senate committee killed Insure Tennessee, Greater Memphis Chamber CEO Phil Trenary raised the possibility of the group criticizing legislators opposing Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan, says Kyle Veazey. Now that it’s dead Sen. Brian Kelsey, a leading opponent, would be an obvious target, but…

There’s the Greater Memphis Chamber, with a more active political orientation of late and a relatively new political action committee. And there’s Kelsey, the Germantown Republican who’s the local face of the opposition to Insure Tennessee, the only one of the seven senators who voted ‘no’ who is from Shelby County. Would the chamber target Kelsey, engaging in some sort of political payback?

…I asked Trenary that Wednesday in his office, and here’s where he went:

“The first step is to understand why. We’ll reach out to Senator Kelsey and find out specifically, what is the path to success on this. Is there no circumstance under which this could be supported? We don’t know the answer to that, so we have to get that answer.

“And when it comes to accountability, we don’t do that, the voters do that. To the extent that there’s a tax increase, if there’s a cut in services because of those actions, then yes, there will be accountability. That comes at the ballot box.”

…“I have a positive ongoing relationship with the Memphis Chamber of Commerce,” Kelsey wrote in an email Thursday. “In fact, I am sponsoring two pieces of legislation on their behalf this year. I have always enjoyed working with the Memphis Chamber of Commerce, and I look forward to working with them in the future.”

…So, I asked, you and Kelsey aren’t enemies?

“No, no,” Trenary said.

And then, he just couldn’t help himself.

“Not yet,” he said.