Kim Kaegi, Emily Reynolds to lead TN museum fundraising

Gov. Bill Haslam’s chief campaign fundraiser, Kim Kaegi, and Emily Reynolds, who for years was the top staffer for former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, were picked Monday to lead efforts to raise $41.775 million in private funds for the new $160 million Tennessee State Museum building.

Further from Andy Sher’s report:

The state’s private nonprofit Museum Foundation unanimously approved the two with Reynolds, a Museum Foundation board member, resigning her position prior to the vote.

A formal contract for their services is expected to be ready for action by Museum Foundation members to approve by Sept. 1 at the latest.

Over the past 20 or so years, Kaegi has raised tens of millions of dollars in campaign cash for Republican politicians including Haslam and U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

Reynolds served as a chief of staff for Frist and was later secretary of the U.S. Senate and later headed the Tennessee Valley Authority’s public and government relations office.

“The fundraising team that is being proposed is a great combination,” Haslam Chief of Staff Mark Cate earlier told Museum Foundation members. “This was an idea the governor came up with.”

…Upon the governor’s recommendation this spring, state lawmakers approved $120 million in state funds for the project. Another $40 million will be privately raised through the nonprofit Museum Foundation, where contributions will be tax deductible.

During Monday’s presentation, Cate, whose last day as Haslam’s chief of staff is Friday, said the additional $1.775 million will cover three years worth of expenses related to staffing for fundraising, project coordination and communications as well as fundraising events like meals and venues and development of material to encourage large donors ranging from companies and private foundations to individuals to support the project.

Of that amount, staffing and consultants would account for $1.26 million.

The effort will include a project coordinator and there has been widespread speculation that Cate would be in line for that.

“My hope is somehow to be involved in the project because I think it’s a project I have a lot of experience in,” Cate later told two reporters.

But Cate, who in the past has been involved in real estate development and once worked on capital projects and raising money for Maryville College, said no decisions have been made on that for the museum project.

“My hope is there will be a place for me, but that hasn’t been determined yet,” Cate said.