Complaint: Tracy used state campaign money to pay fed campaign expenses

A Petersburg man has filed a complaint Tuesday against Sen. Jim Tracy claiming he may have used state campaign funds to pay federal campaign expenses for media work on his 2014 congressional race, reports Sam Stockard.

In addition, the complaint says Tracy made a $1,000 contribution from his state Senate campaign fund in March 2014 to his congressional campaign.

“At the end of the day, right is right and wrong is wrong, and everybody should be held to the same standard,” said Corey Smith, who filed the complaint but noted he has known Tracy his entire life and isn’t mad at him.

Tracy, a third-term Shelbyville legislator representing eastern Rutherford, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore counties, says the accusations are “absolutely false” and calls the matter a “typical election-type deal, 23rd hour, trying to throw something out there.”

Wrapping up a third four-year term, Tracy is being challenged by Steve Lane of Murfreesboro in Thursday’s Republican primary. Smith said he is familiar with Lane but declined to call himself a supporter.

Filed with the Registry of Election Finance by Smith, of South High Street in Petersburg, a town straddling Marshall and Lincoln County lines, the sworn complaint says Tracy paid $18,000 to Harris Media in 2015 for “Media Services” and “Consulting” from his state campaign account.

Harris Media is one of the nation’s top firms for creating and managing websites, the complaint notes. Yet Tracy’s website hasn’t been updated since 2014, according to the complaint, when he challenged U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and lost by only 38 votes after a recount. The complaint points out Tracy’s donation page continued to show federal donation limits and disclosure rules in late July.

A review of the web page shows Tracy for state Senate and several recent social media postings that link to Tracy’s Facebook page, but it also has several mentions of his congressional race and two-year-old media items.

In addition, Federal Election Commission reports show Tracy made a $50,000 loan to his congressional campaign on July 3, 2014, and on Aug. 5, three days before the election, he held a fundraiser with U.S. Rep. Diane Black as “special guest.”

…Tracy says he signed a contract with Harris Media after the congressional race to have the company convert his congressional campaign web site to a state Senate website containing social media items and other work.

“We just looked at it. It looks like they switched everything over except the … it looks like they switched most everything over.”

…Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, confirmed the Registry of Election Finance received the complaint, which will be presented to the Registry at the next meeting after its Aug. 10 meeting.

The complaint was filed too late for the Aug. 10 meeting, but the Registry will make a decision on whether to issue a “show cause” notice or to dismiss the complaint, Rawlins said. Tracy would be given a chance to respond before action is taken if the Registry issues a “show cause” notice, he said.