Twenty-seven Republicans state representatives have called for the firing of the state GOP’s political director, whose wife heads a consulting firm working for challengers to incumbents in the August Republican primary, reports The Tennessean.
Lawmakers also want any GOP party superiors who knew about or condoned the “engagement” of the consultant to resign.
They say trust with the party has been violated. And until action is taken, the lawmakers believe there is “widespread concern that the future integrity of the Tennessee GOP hangs in the balance.”
The group, which includes House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, sent a letter dated Monday to Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes demanding the immediate termination of the party’s political director, Walker Ferrell.
Ferrell’s wife is Taylor Ferrell, founder of Southland Advantage, a Hendersonville-based political consulting and fundraising firm that works with Republicans.
Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, said he wrote the letter in consultation with others.
“I signed the letter because the Republican Party is destroying the trust between candidates, incumbents and the party apparatus by allowing its employees and subcontractors (in this case the political director and his spouse) to work against incumbent office holders,” Matheny said in a text to The Tennessean.
Matheny is one of 21 House Republicans facing primary challenges this August. It’s an unusually large number of primary challengers, reflecting the ongoing divide among Republicans nationally and locally.
The letter alleges that Taylor Ferrell is working for two of the challengers, but it does not identify which candidates or races. This arrangement, the letter says, represents a “gross conflict of interest” for Walker Ferrell, who they contend stands to gain financially from the defeat of Republicans in office because of his wife’s role.
… GOP Executive Director Brent Leatherwood said the party wouldn’t be terminating Walker Ferrell, who he called a valuable member of the party’s staff. Leatherwood said neither Walker Ferrell nor any Tennessee GOP staffer is involved in any legislative primaries.
“Chairman Haynes considers all these individuals good friends and would in no way allow his staff be involved in their primaries,” Leatherwood said. “TN GOP bylaws prohibit staff members from being involved in primaries, so it has never happened and it never will. Voters are the ones who decide who nominees are and then we work with those individuals to go beat Democrats.”
…The state party recently contracted Southland Advantage to help with the travel, organization and other arrangements for Tennessee’s delegates at this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Note: A copy of the letter (not a good one, but legible) is below, along with a list of legislators signing it.
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver
Rep. Jeremy Faison
Rep. Courtney Rogers
Rep. Judd Matheny
Rep. Curtis Halford
Rep. Bill Sanderson
Rep. Jimmy Eldridge
Rep. Timothy Hill
Rep. Mark Pody
Rep. Bryan Terry
Rep. Jay Reedy
Rep. Dawn White
Rep. Mary Littleton
Rep. Mike Sparks
Rep. Gary Hicks
Rep. Micah Van Huss
Rep. Jimmy Matlock
Rep. Billy Spivey
Rep. Glen Casada
Rep. David Byrd
Rep. Dennis Powers
Rep. Matthew Hill
Rep. Sheila Butt
Rep. Rick Womick
Rep. Susan Lynn
Rep. David Hawk
Rep. Ron Lollar
*Leatherwood tells the Tennessean that Reps. Lollar and Sanderson, after talking with him, have asked their names be removed.