Category Archives: Stacey Campfield

Campfield drains ‘constituent communications’ account with letter, transfers

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Before leaving office, former Sen. Stacey Campfield drained a taxpayer-funded account by sending a farewell letter to constituents and transferring funds to three other senators.

The Knoxville News Sentinel ( reports Campfield spent $2,248 on the letter to 7th District residents and records show he split $1,000 between three Republican senators.

The letter begins by thanking constituents “for the great privilege of serving you,” goes on to “share some thoughts and triumphs with you” and then outlines “some of my personal highlights” while in office.

Under rules for “constituent communications” accounts, if Campfield hadn’t spent the money it would have gone to Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, who defeated Campfield in the primary. Briggs won the seat on Nov. 4 by defeating Democrat Cheri Siler.

A state law provides the accounts so that lawmakers can mail materials to constituents. Campfield left $15.39 in the account for Briggs, but he, like all state senators, will get $6,832 each year for the account, and that begins immediately.

Briggs said he disagreed with how the money was used.

“I just hate taxpayers’ money used that doesn’t benefit the taxpayer. It doesn’t matter if it’s for this or anything. This is not how I plan to do business,” Briggs said.

In a phone interview, Campfield declared well-wishes for Briggs, but declined to answer questions about the account.

“I wish Senator-elect Briggs every success in the world and hope he does great things for the state,” he said.

Under state law, Campfield’s last day in office was Nov. 4, and Briggs’ term commenced at midnight that day, though he won’t take the formal oath of office until January.

Court of Appeals reinstates defamation lawsuit against Sen. Stacey Campfield

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The state Court of Appeals on Monday reinstated a defamation lawsuit against Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield for publishing false information on his blog about a Democratic candidate for the state House in 2008.

The panel found that the lower court erred in throwing out the $750,000 lawsuit filed by former candidate Roger Byrge last year, and that the case could result in a finding of “actual malice” by Campfield. (Note: Full opinion is HERE.)

“Politics may be a rough and tumble endeavor, but, contrary to the vintage Cole Porter song, ‘anything goes’ will not suffice when it comes to publishing factual falsehoods about political rivals,” Judge D. Michael Swiney wrote in the opinion. “A public figure, even a politician, is neither totally immune from nor totally unprotected by the law of defamation.”

Campfield, who had a long history of provocative statements, was defeated in the Republican primary last month. His term doesn’t end until after the general election in November.
Continue reading

On defeat of incumbent Republicans Campfield, Daniel in Knox County

From the News Sentinel’s report on Knox County legislative races, including Sen. Stacey Campfield’s loss to Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs:

Briggs took 67 percent of the vote in unofficial results Thursday, while loser Campfield finished with 28 percent. A third candidate, Mike Alford, took less than 6 percent of ballots.

Excited screams came from inside of the suite where Briggs awaited results in the Crowne Plaza Hotel downtown as early voting figures came through.

Briggs said he next hopes to win in November against Democrat Cheri Siler.

“But I’ll be honest with you,” Briggs said, “I haven’t thought past tonight.”

He was calm but clearly excited as he posed for photos with friends and family in the room. The heart surgeon was not just focused on his victory in the primary, though.

“I’ve got to be on call Friday through Sunday,” he said, speaking about his day job, “so I still have to go to bed at some point.”

Meanwhile, Campfield ally Steve Hall also lost his seat in the 18th District of the Tennessee House of Representatives to Martin Daniel.

Daniel won with a narrow margin, carrying 51 percent of the vote. He will be unopposed in the November general election.

Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe said incumbents haven’t been beaten in a (Knox County) primary for the state House in 20 years, and it’s been 37 years since an incumbent lost a primary in the 7th Senate District.

Campfield took to his blog after the results came in, posting “That was fun” at with a link to Frank Sinatra singing “My Way.”

Hall, a former Knoxville city councilman, did not attract the kind of national attention that Campfield became known for.

“We can do better,” Daniel said after running a campaign that focused on several debated votes by Hall, including his move to take away a scenic highway designation along Middlebrook Pike while Tennova announced plans to build a hospital there.

Some West Hills residents were against the hospital plans, and continue to be vocal.

On policy matters, Daniel said that he hopes to propose a plan to limit bureaucratic power in government once he’s in Nashville.

On the Campfield-Briggs race in Senate District 7

Tne News Sentinel has a review of the Senate District 7 Republican primary campaign, probably the most-watched legislative contest in the state. Excerpts from the article:

Sen. Stacey Campfield says he is facing the “dirtiest” campaign encountered in a dozen years of campaigning, exemplified by a direct-mail ad with the senator’s grinning face posted atop a bare-chested, leaping man wearing pale blue tights with a flaming red cloak draped behind him.

It’s an edited movie poster from the 2006 Jack Black comedy “Nacho Libre”with Campfield’s face superimposed over Black’s.

Below the picture is the declaration the senator “has brought the wrong kind of attention to Tennessee.” Open the foldout from Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs’ mailer and there’s a list of Campfield’s “top 10 most embarrassing moments.” (Note: A copy of the mailer is ava

Though it’s a three-man primary — Mike Alford also wants the win — the spotlight is on who will emerge between Campfield and Briggs.

“I think when you start photo-shopping stuff, that’s beneath the office,” Campfield, 46, said as he sat in a parking lot last week greeting voters headed to the Downtown West early voting precinct.

A couple of days earlier, Campfield posted on his blog: “People keep asking me about the polls. As I sit at the polls, I get more thumbs-up than middle fingers so I guess the polls are OK.”

In an interview, Campfield said he gets an obscene gesture “maybe once a week” and an occasional remark such as “I’d vote for bin Laden before I’d vote for you.” But those are a rarity compared to dozens who tell him something like “Keep it going — you’re the best,” he said.

Campfield, then, has inspired an extraordinary amount of passion among voters on both sides. And he has gained national attention for what supporters see as cutting-edge conservatism coupled with willingness to confront politically correct liberals and for what critics see, at best, as embarrassing moments.

He is a political phenomenon, said Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor, in attracting attention throughout the state and nation despite holding a relatively low-level state office.

“That’s great if you believe there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” Oppenheimer said.

But that is not always the case. It’s one thing to be regarded as a “maverick, willing to buck the system,” another to be viewed as someone whose behavior is “an embarrassment” or who has become “a joke.”

“The question is whether Campfield stepped across the line from being an independent, freethinking conservative to being ineffective — I don’t want to use the scientific term ‘whacko’,” he said.

Campfield contends that on issues and personality he is “completely different” from Briggs, a Knox County commissioner and heart surgeon. He casts the contest as between “a regular guy and a millionaire heart surgeon” who is relying on personal attacks that will backfire because “people don’t like that kind of thing.”

Why does he attract such negative attention?

“I’ll stand up and speak out on issues and there are a lot of people who don’t like that; they’d rather you sit, be silent,” he said. “I went to the Legislature to get things done and to get things done you have to speak out.”

…”He’s done many things that people consider to have embarrassed Knox County,” Briggs said. “And from some of the national attention he’s gotten, he’s embarrassed the entire state of Tennessee.”

Some of that attention, also on the list, came from Campfield’s comparison of Obamacare to genocide under Nazi Germany. So did Campfield’s assertion about the origin of AIDS coming from a pilot having sex with a monkey.

“Why he said AIDS came from a gay man having sex with a monkey — I don’t know,” Briggs said.

…”(Campfield is) harming the conservative cause by much of what he was done,” Briggs said. “He makes conservatives look like they have these off-the-wall ideas, and that all conservatives should be dismissed, and unreasonable, and embarrassing.”

Meanwhile, Briggs has answered Campfield’s assertion that he doesn’t live in the district, based on utility bills showing little water use in his Farragut condo.

Briggs said he hasn’t been rattled by what he called false accusations.

“He was complaining about it being dirty. If you can’t take the heat, maybe you shouldn’t do it,” Briggs said.

…While Briggs and Campfield have sparred, another candidate entered the primary — on the last day of the filing period.

Alford said he joined to fight a Campfield bill that would hurt newspapers. Alford’s wife is an administrator for the Tennessee Press Association.

Briggs said that Alford, who has collected and spent no money in his campaign, was put up by Campfield to dilute the vote.

“He’s a good friend of Stacey Campfield, his name starts with an ‘A,’ and Mr. Campfield didn’t want my name at the top of the ballot,” Briggs said.

Alford said he considers Campfield a friend, with a “likable” personality.

…Campaign observers say accessibility makes Campfield a formidable political opponent.

“Sometimes people talk as if Stacey Campfield is some sort of an alien from another planet that has been forced upon us by an all-powerful overlord,” University of Tennessee political science professor Anthony Nownes said. “He is who he is and where he is because a lot of people like him.”

Campfield is known in campaigns to blanket neighborhoods door-to-door, almost tirelessly, according to Nownes.

The person to beat Campfield in an election will have to be the same kind of shoe-leather, door-to-door politician, he said.

“For me it is less complicated than most people would want it to be,” Nownes said. “I’ve lived in Knoxville for almost 20 years, and every single person I’ve ever known who has lived in his district has met (Campfield).”

Briggs said he’s knocked on more than 10,000 doors in the district personally, and his staff has reached out to 30,000 households.

Campfield loans his campaign $40K; Opponent Briggs loans his campaign $122K

State Sen. Stacey Campfield has loaned his campaign $40,000 while Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, his leading opponent in next Thursday’s Republican primary, has loaned his campaign $122,000, new financial reports show.

The self-financing, reported in disclosures covering the period July 1 through July 28, roughly match the overall $3-to-$1 spending advantage that Briggs holds over Campfield in the race since its outset.

Since Briggs launched his campaign last year, reports filed with the Registry of Election Finance show he had spent a total of about $334,000 going into the final days of the campaign. Campfield had spent just over $98,000 in the same period.

A third candidate in the race, Mike Alford, reported a total of zero receipts and zero contributions.

A breakdown of the Campfield and Briggs reports:

-Briggs has raised, during his entire campaign, $225,964 in contributions and added the $122,000 loan in July for total campaign receipts of about $348,000. About two-thirds of his total spending came last month. He still had $14,564 cash on hand on July 28.

-Campfield began last year with $10,431 in his campaign account. He has since added $55,320 in contributions and the $40,000 loan last month. At the end of the disclosure period, he still had $6,953 cash on hand.

During the July period covered by the reports, Campfield the two were somewhat evenly matched in collecting money, though both in modest amounts – Campfield raised $15,320; Briggs $16,095.

Typically in legislative races, incumbents raise far more money from political action committees than challengers. In the Senate District 7 race, however, both Campfield and Briggs have gathered PAC money and Briggs appears to have an edge in PAC money.

In the last period, for example, Briggs collected funds from PACs representing lobbying firms, hospitals, telecommunications, realtors, dentists and ophthalmologists – physicians who treat eye ailments . Campfield got money from PACs representing lawyers, bankers, gun rights advocates and optometrists, who regularly fight with ophthalmologists at the legislature over the extent they can treat eye problems even though not licensed physicians.

Both men have also benefited from independent expenditures.

Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and funded by billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch, is airing radio ads supporting Campfield and urging voters to thank him for voting to “stop Obamacare” and opposing Common Core standards. Because the ads do not explicitly ask that people vote for Campfield, they are not considered political ads under relevant campaign finance rules and the expenditures occurring after July 1 – as apparently all have — need not be reported until well after the election.

On the other hand, a newly-formed PAC called Advance Tennessee – funded by donations from traditional donors to GOP political causes – has spent about $8,000 on mailers criticizing Campfield and Nashville attorney Lewis Laska, editor of a book on Tennessee’s Constitution, has spent about $2,000 sending post cards to district voters urging them to vote against the incumbent.

An overlap for Briggs-Campfield, Halls-Daniels races in Knox County?

Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe has this report on overlap of the Campfield-Briggs race and the Hall-Daniel campaigns in Knox County:

State Rep. Steve Hall made news this weekend when he said on WBIR-TV he is supporting Stacey Campfield for reelection to the state Senate over Richard Briggs in the Aug. 7 GOP primary. He did this in response to a question from Knoxville attorney Don Bosch. No other Knox lawmaker has endorsed Campfield in the GOP primary.
It is no secret that Hall and Campfield are close personally and politically, but this is the first time Hall has publicly endorsed Campfield and made it clear they are a team in Nashville.
Martin Daniel, Hall’s opponent, said he opposed Campfield. Hall and Campfield sponsored legislation to sell Lakeshore Park, the most used park in the city.
The Daniel-Hall contest for state representative in West Knox County continues to heat up. It is fierce. Hall is also now under fire for accepting donations from Tennova PAC both before and after sponsoring legislation to remove the scenic-route designation on Middlebrook Pike to allow Tennova to move there so high buildings could be constructed against neighborhood wishes.
On WATE-TV, Hall said he was unaware Tennova had given him a campaign donation at that time. However, his treasurer is his son, Steve Hall II, which causes one to question the accuracy of that response since one assumes father and son talk to each other often.
Hall has attacked Daniel for being in the outdoor-advertising business. Daniel says he will recuse himself from voting on legislation impacting that industry. Daniel has questioned Hall mailing a legislative questionnaire at public expense just weeks before the primary. Legislative rules help incumbents in this area. Campfield has used his tax-paid communications fund for cable TV.

Note: Those interested in the Briggs-Campfield contest can see the two in a bit of back-and-forth with WATE-TV’s Gene Patterson as moderator HERE.

Briggs provides more documents, says residency is a ‘non-issue’

After a talk with Richard Briggs, Metro Pulse’s Cari Wade Gervin concludes that Sen. Stacey Campfield is almost certainly wrong in contending his opponent doesn’t live in the apartment listed as his residence (previous post HERE).

“This is a non-issue,” Briggs says. “It’s no one’s business where I shower or how often I flush my toilet—and I do flush it, by the way!”

Briggs says that when the KNS’ Tom Humphrey called him yesterday, he was so taken aback that he didn’t know what to say and didn’t give the best-sounding quotes. For one, he doesn’t have a KUB account because his electric bill is with Lenoir City Utilities Board and his water is with First Utility District.

“KUB doesn’t even provide anything there! I couldn’t have a KUB account if I wanted,” Briggs says.

Briggs also brought along a bunch of documents he said would be “proof” of his official residence. Having seen said proof with my own eyes, I can tell you that either:

A) Briggs is telling the truth about moving out of his lakeside condo and into a Farragut apartment in August 2012; or,

B) Briggs has gone to a lot of trouble to pretend that he’s been living in an apartment in the 7th District for two years; or,

C) Briggs has a stellar future in forging documents, and every underage University of Tennessee student should be calling him up stat.

Briggs showed me copies of his federal and state tax returns from 2012 and 2013. Both were filed from his 11631 Lanesborough Way, Apt. 931, address. His 2012 and 2013 W-2′s were sent to that address. A county retirement savings statement was sent to that address in 2012. A different retirement account statement was sent to that address in early 2013. He is registered to vote at that address. His handgun permit is for that address. Oh, and his driver’s license is at that address.

The date it was issued? September 2, 2012.

Campfield questions whether his opponent resides in Senate district

State Sen. Stacey Campfield contends that utility bills indicate Richard Briggs does not really live at the Farragut apartment that Briggs, his Republican primary opponent, has listed as his residence on election documents, potentially violating state law.

Briggs, a heart surgeon and Knox County commissioner, said Campfield’s contention is “absolutely false,” while conceding the utility bills could present a confusing picture. Looking at his water bills during an interview Saturday, Briggs said they do seem low, even considering limited use of water at the apartment.

Campfield said his campaign staff has conducted some research and “either Dr. Briggs and his wife haven’t taken a shower or flushed a toilet in several months or they don’t live at that apartment.” He provided copies of a Knoxville Utilities Board statement saying there was no record of an account at the address and two other documents indicating minimal water usage. The senator said researchers had also been told there was little or no use of water by Briggs’ accounts.

The apartment at 11631 Lanesborough Way is listed as Briggs’ residence in documents including the qualifying petition to get him on the ballot as a candidate for state Senate District 7, the seat now held by Campfield.

If that is not his real residence, Campfield said, Briggs put false information on an election document — a felony under state law. Mark Goins, state election coordinator, said “knowingly” putting false information on a qualifying petition would indeed be a felony.

While not addressing the Knox County situation, Goins said bringing such a claim earlier could have led to a hearing, and if false information was proven, a candidate could have been barred from seeking office. If such a claim were filed against a candidate after winning an election, Goins said it could be used to contest the result.
Continue reading

In the Briggs-Campfield race: Sign theft, mask mailer and Nashville lawyer joins in

The race between Sen. Stacey Campfield and Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs has been marked by charges of yard sign theft and flyers attacking Campfield, reports Georgianna Vines.

At one location cited, signs for Briggs and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan disappeared and were replaced by a large Campfield sign. Later, the Campfield sign disappeared and was replaced by signs for Briggs, Duncan, state Rep. Steve Hall and Hall’s opponent, Martin Daniel.
In a blog post, Campfield is offering a $250 reward for anyone providing information that leads to arrest and conviction of someone stealing one of his signs from private property.

The campaign for Briggs, a county commissioner, physician and military veteran, mailed three fliers, including one that featured a military hat and a Mexican wrestler’s mask with the question, “Wresting With Whom to Trust?” The mask is a reference to Campfield being escorted out of a past University of Tennessee home football game on Halloween after being asked to remove it. (Note: A copy of the mailer is HERE.)

Voters also received a first-class postcard from Lewis Laska, a Nashville lawyer considered an authority on the Tennessee Constitution, asking them “DO NOT VOTE for Stacey Campfield during the primary” and should he win, “please vote for ANYONE ELSE during the general election.”

Laska wasn’t available for an interview but released a statement that he mailed 20,000 postcards urging voters not to vote for Campfield because “in my opinion he has demonstrated by his words and actions that he is not fit to hold public office.”

A new Stacey Campfield timeline

For Sen. Stacey Campfield’s fans – or foes – Metro Pulse has done a lengthy, or you might say exhaustive, review of his doings. The timeline starts with his birth on June 8, 1968, and runs through a July 13, 2014, Campfield comment on a Knoxville TV show: “I think everybody knows I don’t have any ill will in my heart towards anyone.” It has links to a bunch of old stories about Campfield (some by yours truly) It’s HERE.

Earlier, The Tennessean did a slide show listing of Campfield’s top ten ‘controversial moments.’ HERE.

And, of course, he’s the only legislator to be the subject of a musical, prior post HERE.