A Tennessee Democratic Party press release criticizing a new state law declaring that only Republicans can serve as county election commission chairs included a line that says Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, “had a local Weakley County election administrator fired and then replaced her with his inexperienced friend.”
Holt has responded to that with a missive to state Democratic Chair Mary Mancini, declaring in part the “disgraceful & slanderous accusations are baseless, and serve as a reminder that the modern Democratic Party is wrought with corruption.” He included a copy of former Weakley County Election Administrator Barbara Castleman’s letter of resignation to show she left of her “own volition.”
And TNDP’s communications director, Spencer Bowers, has in turn responded to Holt with a “correction” to the press release acknowledging that Holt did not fire the election administrator, then adding, “What he did was much worse. By recommending the removal and replacement of three members of the 5-member election commission he manipulated the system until he got what he wanted, the job for his inexperienced friend.”
Holt includes a link to the blog post (HERE) that included the TNDP press release. TNDP includes a link to a Jackson Sun story describing event leading to Castleman’s departure.
(Note: The Sun story quotes Castleman as blaming Holt’s activities for her decision to quit and avoid “the hassle of the representative calling my shots and things.” Link to full story below with TNDP release; short blog version HERE.)
The Holt letter and the Bowers response are both below.
Letter from Rep. Andy Holt:
Attached, you will find a copy of a resignation letter written by Mrs. Barbara Castleman dated June 10, 2015. This letter was presented to the Weakley County Election Commission for consideration on the same date.
I hope that this document will suffice as evidence that your willful misrepresentation of the facts regarding Mrs. Castleman’s departure from her previous post as Weakley County Administrator of Elections, was of her own volition, and not as a result of actions taken by me.
Your disgraceful & slanderous accusations are baseless, and serve as a reminder that the modern Democratic Party is wrought with corruption. Reaching from your party’s criminally-suspect presidential nominee (Hillary Clinton), and then all the way down to your position (the purveyor over an anemic, super-minority political party), the modern-day Democratic Party homogeneously represent dishonesty, disingenuousness & danger from top to bottom. Your untruthful statements certainly embody this unfortunate reality.
I hope that you will see fit to correct your false & willfully misleading statements regarding my association with the voluntary resignation of Mrs. Barbara Castleman, included in your press release dated August 29, 2016 and linked here: http://knoxblogs.com/humphreyhill/2016/08/29/tns-democratic-election-commission-chair-ousted/
Statement from Spencer Bowers, Tennessee Democratic Party, under the headline, ‘Correction to previous TNDP press release’.
This afternoon we received a call from Rep. Andy Holt asking us to retract the statement we made yesterday that he fired the Weakley County Election Administrator. Our retraction statement is below.
“Our recent press release stated that Rep. Andy Holt fired the Weakley County election administrator. He did not. What he did was much worse. By recommending the removal and replacement of three members of the 5-member election commission he manipulated the system until he got what he wanted, the job for his inexperienced friend. [Source: http://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/local/government/2015/06/24/election-administrator-weakley-county/29245451/” (Note: The Sun article quotes Castleman as blaming Holt’s actions for her decision to step down and avoid “the hassle of the representative calling my shots and things”)
This is just another example of the unrestrained power that Republicans have cultivated in the State Legislature. They make secret deals, sweep bad behavior under the rug, and bully local governments. Andy Holt is the poster boy for this culture. A group that lobbies him directly awarded him a trip to Hawaii and brand new truck. One of his legislative staffers got fired because he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contracts while working for the state. And, yes, he manipulated a local governmental body until he got what he wanted. Andy Holt has never seen a rule he didn’t want to break. He has little concern for the people of his district or the effective and accountable operation of local and state government.”
And here’s Castleman’s resignation letter as provided by Holt in his letter/email.