Category Archives: Stacey Campfield

Campfield does ‘constituent communication’ via TV, other legislators via mail, transfers, etc.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield has become the first state legislator to use his taxpayer-funded “constituent communications” account to cover the cost of cable TV ads as well as a more traditional direct mail piece sent to voters on the last day permitted prior to the Aug. 7 election.

A review of communications accounts indicates that legislators who face opposition in this year’s elections, such as Knoxville Republican Campfield, generally are more likely to spend their allocated funds than those who do not. In several cases, legislators who are retiring or who have no opponents have transferred money from their communications accounts to legislators who do have opposition.

Dick Williams, president of Common Cause in Tennessee, said use of the accounts sometimes falls into “a gray area” between informing constituents about legislative activities, which is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars, and political promotion, which is not.

“It’s all perfectly legal,” Williams said. “But it can be an advantage to an incumbent, and timing can be a part of that. The closer you get to an election, the more likely that the intent may be electioneering.”

Under state law, each of the state’s 33 senators has $6,832 per year placed into an account for postage, printing and other constituent communications purposes. Each of the 99 state representatives gets $2,016 per year.

A review of state records shows that use of the money varies widely.

Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson, rarely uses the account and had accumulated a balance of $105,230 as of Thursday. But several legislators overspent their accounts and had to reimburse the state, typically with checks written on their campaign accounts.

Campfield had allowed his balance to accumulate to $25,901 before this year’s $6,832 was added, records show.

He began airing “legislative updates” on Comcast cable TV in February and continued them into May. Altogether, 11 updates were aired at costs ranging from $819 to $2,264. The total billed to the account for the ads was $16,666.

The senator said cable TV is actually less expensive than large-scale mailings to constituents because “the market is changing and the technology is changing.” The Legislature now has an office where legislators can produce a video in “a matter of minutes,” he said, and avoid printing costs.

The script for Campfield’s last TV update, billed to his account May 20, says:

“Hello, I’m Sen. Stacey Campfield and this is your legislative update. This year, Tennessee was recognized nationally for many great strides forward. We’re number one in education growth. Number two least taxed. Number three most wanted to visit. Number two for best roads and infrastructure. Number four best state for business. And number three in overall state freedom.

“While not perfect, we are quickly becoming that shining city on the hill that others look up to. If you have any questions on this you can contact me at the number or address listed below.”

Each script, whether for mailing or TV airing, must be approved in advance by Connie Ridley, director of the Office of Legislative Administration. She said the information need not refer to legislative activity in any specific manner.

“The statute says ‘constituent communication,’ ” Ridley said. “In that, he is communicating with constituents. It doesn’t have to be about legislation.”

Ridley also screens the communications for any political references, which are prohibited. And she makes sure there are no taxpayer-paid mailings for 30 days prior to an election.

On that point, Campfield contacted her and was advised that the last date a communication could be sent prior to the Aug. 7 election was July 8. The mailing had to be postmarked on that date or earlier.

Campfield said he had intended the direct-mail “legislative update” to go out earlier, but there was a problem getting it printed that caused some delay. According to constituents contacting the News Sentinel, it arrived in Knoxville mailboxes starting July 10-12. (Note: Front of the mailer is HERE.)

The senator has not yet submitted the bill for that mailing. He had $13,209 in his account as of Wednesday, which Campfield said would be “way more” than enough to cover the cost, though he did not have an exact figure when interviewed.

Some mailings do cost more than that, but most are considerably less.

For example, Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, another incumbent facing opposition in the August primary, spent $14,833 on a mailing headlined “Report for the People” in late June. Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, did a late June mailer at a cost of $2,992.

Johnson, unopposed in the primary but targeted by Republicans for defeat in November, was among legislators benefiting from transfers into her account by other lawmakers. Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, transferred $1,300 into Johnson’s account, while House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, and Rep. JoAnn Favors, D-Chattanooga, transferred $1,000 each for a total of $3,300. Stewart, Fitzhugh and Favors are unopposed in their elections this year.

Fitzhugh also transferred $1,000 to Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Nashville, who has November opposition. Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, sent Jernigan another $500 and Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, $200.

Some other transfers:

n State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, who is running for the U.S. Senate instead of reelection, transferred $500 each from his account to Reps. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, and Tim Wirgau, R-Buchanan. The four are among 20 state legislators who have endorsed his Senate campaign. Shipley and Wirgau have opponents this year; Butt and Sanderson do not.

n Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, received $4,000 in transfers from Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, $1,500 from Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, and $500 from Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville for a total of $6,000. Ragan is facing a challenge from Catlin Nolan in the Aug. 7 primary and has done two mailers this year, one costing $5,375 and another at $3,630.

Johnson and Womick have no opponents this year. Floyd, who is not seeking reelection, also transferred $300 to Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, who has a primary challenger.

n Rep. Dennis “Coach” Roach, R-Rutledge, who is challenged in the Aug. 7 primary, received $2,705 in transfers from Rep. Michael Harrison, R-Rogersville, who has no opposition.

-House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, D-Nashville, who is retiring from the Legislature, transferred $3,400 from his account to Rep. David Shepard, D-Dickson, who faces a Republican opponent in November.

Under account rules, if a retiring legislator does not transfer his or her account money before leaving office, the entire balance goes to the legislator next elected to fill the seat. That is a factor in some legislators, such as Watson, accumulating large balances.

In most cases, the transferred monies let the recipient legislator cover the cost of a mailings that would have otherwise put him or her in the red on the “constituent communications” accounts. Several legislators, including some without opponents this year, also had to cover overspending in their accounts by writing a check to the state.

Legislators can also the fund to cover costs for items such as state and American flags presented to schools or civic groups, pens, business cards, framing photographs or legislative resolutions and similar things.

Lawmakers reimbursing the state for excess expenditures from the accounts this year were Reps. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville; Joshua Evans, R-Greenbrier; Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough; Art Swann, R-Maryville; Joe Towns, D-Memphis.

The largest reimbursement check was from Hill, for $3,274, though his account still showed a $46.05 deficit on Wednesday. Three other legislators officially had deficits – Ragan $303.77; Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, $42.14, and retiring Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, $10.21.

Campfield compared his use of the state accounts to U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr.’s use of his office to provide regular taxpayer-funded newsletters from Washington to constituents.

“It’s a good way for a congressman or a state representative to get feedback from constituents on what he’s doing,” said Campfield. “Nothing was political. It was all approved by the lieutenant governor’s office and Connie Ridley.”

Bonnie Brezina, campaign manager for Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, the incumbent’s primary opponent, disagreed. She said Campfield’s handling of his account is “the latest in a long pattern of unethical behavior” by the senator, who is “continuing to put his own selfish interests above the taxpayer.”

Negotiated rules keep things civil at Briggs-Campfield forum

Georgiana Vines reports that Sen. Stacey Campfield and his primary opponent, Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, were “polite and civil” to one another at a Knox County Republican Women’s Forum. Rules set for the forum pretty much required it.
Campfield called them “new kiddie rules” on his blog. Briggs says his campaign manager, Bonnie Brezina, negotiated the conditions because “I don’t want to be set up.” He says Campfield “lied” about his At a previous forum, Campfield “lied” about his positions, Briggs said.

Campfield said the two candidates were not to mention each other’s records nor was videotaping or recording to take place. The media was not given any ground rules.

…. Briggs said he can propose solutions to issues, including on health care, but this doesn’t mean he supports the federal Affordable Care Act, or what’s commonly called Obamacare, as Campfield has stated. Campfield said after former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist — who does support the program and its implementation at the state level — endorsed Briggs this week, that the endorsement “speaks volumes.”

Briggs said he has a health plan that would have all Tennesseans covered, with recipients bearing some of the responsibility.

At the forum, the two candidates discussed education, job skills training and business recruitment, with Campfield taking credit for some of the improvements and changes that have taken place in these areas.

They were asked a question about how the state should handle immigration in terms of any young people who might come here in the present flow from Central America that is creating problems on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Briggs said Tennesseans are not hostile to immigrants, nor are there any sanctuary cities that protect illegal immigrants. He said illegal immigrants cannot receive any benefits except emergency health care, and for those who want to provide other services, “we have to say no.”

Campfield said the Legislature approved in-state college tuition for U.S.-born Tennessee high school graduates whose parents are in the country illegally, although he opposed it.

“We don’t need to be encouraging illegal aliens to come to Tennessee,” he said.

Bill Frist endorses Briggs over Campfield

News release from Richard Briggs campaign:
Knoxville, TN-­‐ Former Republican Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist today endorsed Dr. Richard Briggs for state Senate in District 7.

“Dr. Briggs will bring a strong and unique skill set to the Senate. He’s a principled conservative with a solid ethical backbone,” said Senator Frist. “Dr. Briggs has a long history of fighting for both our state and our nation. I’m honored to support Richard so he can start fighting for the people of District 7.”

Frist is the latest in long line of conservatives across the state voicing support for the Briggs campaign.

“I am honored to receive Senator Frist’s endorsement today. Senator Frist is someone that I have always admired and respected both politically and professionally. I am very grateful for his support,” said Briggs.

Early Voting begins July 18th. Election Day is August 7th.

About Bill Frist
Dr. Frist is a nationally acclaimed heart transplant surgeon and former Republican Majority Leader of the United State Senate. His leadership in the United States Senate was instrumental in passage of prescription drug legislation and revolutionary funding to fight HIV/AIDS at home and around the world.

Frist annually leads medical mission trips to Africa and quick response teams to disaster areas around the globe. Frist currently services as an adjunct professor of Cardiac Surgery at Vanderbilt University where he was the founder and Director of the first of its kind Vanderbilt Multi-­‐Organ Transplant Center. Frist founded and is the current chairman of SCORE, an independent, nonprofit, and non-­‐partisan advocacy and research institution supporting Tennessee’s work to prepare students for college and the workforce.

About Richard Briggs
Dr. Richard Briggs, was appointed to the Knox County Commission in February 2008 and currently serves District 5. Briggs holds a B.S. degree in Mathematics. Upon graduation in 1978 from the University of Kentucky College Of Medicine, Dr. Briggs immediately entered active military service with the U.S. Army with rank of Colonel serving in combat with the 1st Armored Division in Operation Desert Storm. Colonel Briggs was awarded the Bronze Star. With over 30 years of active and reserve military service, Colonel Briggs has served in Korea, Central and South America, and in Egypt during the crisis in Somalia.

Dr. Briggs practices cardiothoracic surgery at Tennova Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has held academic appointments at the University of Texas-­‐San Antonio, the University of Louisville and the University of Tennessee-­‐Knoxville. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Tennessee Medical Association.

Dr. Briggs and his wife of 40 years, Stephanie, make their home in Knoxville.

Note: Senate District 7 is currently represented by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville

‘Casey Stampfield: The Musical’ gets a favorable review

In a review of Music City Theatre Company’s brassy “Casey Stampfield: The Musical,” The Tennessean praises the performances and scripting of the musical parody of state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.

Created by Michael McFaden, Mark Beall and Bradley Moore, “Casey Stampfield” is an entertaining musical lampoon of East Tennessee’s most talked-about politician, who was first elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2004 and to the State Senate in 2010. Written in the style of old vaudeville, “Stampfield” leads the audience through just a few of the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your point of view) from the senator’s career. And though the humor is spot on, there’s an unmistakable cringe factor as “Stampfield” reminds us why Tennessee so often ends up being used as a punchline on late-night television.

Chad Webb is hilarious in the title role, mugging it almost as shamelessly as the man who inspired this cheeky romp. Whether kicking up his heels to “Carrot Top” (a snappy parody of “Rocky Top”) or showing off his penchant for public spectacle (“Kicked Out”), Webb’s Stampfield works the crowd for plenty of laughs.

…In between the songs, the actors run through some of the more controversial legislation that Campfield has introduced over the years — including the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill and a proposal to reduce welfare benefits for families with children who fail to meet specific academic requirements.

Such legislation is just the sort of thing that screams out for satire. But it’s a tough balance. After all, we don’t want the factual elements to slow down the show’s lively pace. It’s a fairly minor concern, however — particularly since the show runs just about an hour with no intermission.

Nashville theater group to satirize state senator with ‘Casey Stampfield: The Musical’

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A Nashville theater group, Music City Theatre Company, is planning an “original political satirical show” centered on state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, reports The Tennessean.

“Casey Stampfield: The Musical” debuts June 27 at Vibe Entertainment Complex on Church Street and runs through July 12, with a special performance on primary day, Aug. 7. Tickets are $9.99.

The show is a 45-minute, five-player revue, said co-writer and co-director Michael McFadden. Promotion materials depict the lawmaker dancing in a tuxedo and American flag top hat, though we wouldn’t be shocked if at least one luchador mask comes out.

…The show will touch on many of the episodes that have earned Campfield national fame and notoriety, including his “Don’t Say Gay” bill and his proposal to tie welfare payments to grades. McFadden said he is working now on how to add the senator’s recent analogy comparing Obamacare to the Holocaust.

Campfield took news of the production with good humor when told about it Tuesday.

“This is the third musical and fifth production about me. I’m glad Nashville has a thriving arts community, and I’m always for taking a step back and enjoying good political satire.

“I’m just disappointed they didn’t ask to make a cameo. But I’ll be happy to take as a consolation prize a signed poster with that American top hat.”

Campfield’s opponent signed Campfield’s qualifying petition

Mike Alford, a candidate for State Sen. District 7, signed incumbent Sen. Stacey Campfield’s candidate qualifying petition back in March, reports WATE-TV.

According to the Knox County Election Commission, Alford’s petition was picked up April 2 and submitted April 3, the deadline for submitting petitions. (Campfield’s petition was filed March 28. Richard Briggs is also running against Campfield in the August Republican primary.)
Alford said when he signed Campfield’s nominating petition, he (had not yet decided) to run.

“The idea was always there in the back of my mind but it was a last second split decision to decide even though I did sign his petition,” Alford said.

Alford said he did not pick up his own petition because he was in Nashville at the time. Instead, as first reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel, Bryan Dodson picked up the petition for Alford. (Dodson has worked as a legislative staff and as a campaign aide for Campfield.)
… “I called a couple people and nobody was available,” Alford said. “Somebody suggested I call Bryan and he wasn’t working for Stacey no more so I called him up because he could grab it walk in and walk right out.”

…Despite speculation that Alford is running to split the vote for Richard Briggs in Campfield’s favor, Alford told 6 News he is not running as a political tactic for Campfield.

“People that know me decided or talked me into throwing my name in the hat,” Alford said.

…In the 2010 primary, three candidates against Campfield (combined) received more than 50 percent of the vote (though Campfield won with a plurality).

Haslam vetoes ‘retail vandalism’ bill for ‘unintended consequence’ of helping polluters

Gov. Bill Haslam Thursday vetoed a bill that would have created the new crime of “retail vandalism” in Tennessee, saying it had the “unintended consequence” of reducing criminal penalties for some types of pollution.

The bill, drafted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden. During intense and lengthy House floor debate, Holt described the overall intent as protecting retail stores from “flash mobs,” allowing criminal prosecution of those organizing such events when property is vandalized.

Flash mobs typically involve a group of people — frequently teenagers — suddenly converging in one place, generally for entertainment or celebration of some event in response to social media postings.

Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, had pointed out the pollution provision during debate before the bill was approved on a 63-31 House vote — mostly along party lines with Republicans for, Democrats against. On Thursday, Stewart praised Haslam for the veto of “mislabeled legislation.”

“Hopefully, this is the last time we will be asked to vote for bills that would actually cut the penalties for criminal polluters who profit by ruining their neighbors’ land,” Stewart said in a news release.

Said Haslam in a statement:

“The original intent of this bill was to define and penalize retail vandalism. In a review of the amended legislation, it has been determined that the bill had the unintended consequence of reducing the criminal penalties for certain types of polluting in Tennessee.
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Campfield, Briggs meet in first forum

From WATE-TV’s description, the first forum featuring Sen. Stacey Campfield and his Republican primary opponent, Richard Briggs, sounds pretty bland – which may have been a good thing for the incumbent.

Both men say the education system needs to do more to prepare high school students for the workforce, like adding more trade schools.

“One of the things that I firmly believe is not every student needs to go to college,” Briggs said.

“If somebody has a low paying job, it beats a no paying job. We’ll take trade schools any day of the week. I think that’s something we’ve underdeveloped and underutilized here,” Campfield said.

Both men agree Tennessee should not have a state income tax and they both support gun rights.

But when it comes to choosing school superintendents, Campfield favors elections while Briggs says they should be appointed by school board members.

When asked whether some of his past controversial remarks will matter in this election, Campfield says he hopes voters and his opponent will stick to the issues. Republican Seth Hammond was at the forum and says he thinks Campfield has some hurdles to overcome.

“Unfortunately he’s said some things that people wonder, and so because of that it does affect him and it will hurt him. But I think he did really well tonight,” Hammond said.

Note: See also Brian Hornback’s report on his blog, HERE. It’s maybe slanted a bit toward the pro-Campfield side — as in describing the free college tuition legislation passed by the General Assembly this year as “the Norris/Campfield bill also known as the TN Promise Bill.” Or in stating, while describing one of Briggs’ responses, that the candidate “talked around another rabbit trail.” The former Knox County GOP chairman also notes that a third candidate in the race, Mike Alford, wasn’t present — apparently because the debate organizers didn’t know he was running.

Will Haslam back challenger in a GOP primary?

Gov. Bill Haslam may make Knoxville’s Richard Briggs the first challenger of an incumbent state legislator to receive his political endorsement in a Republican primary — and he has come fairly close already.

Briggs, a physician and Knox County commissioner, is opposing Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, in the Aug. 7 Republican primary. Haslam joined other Republican leaders last week in criticizing Campfield for likening “Obamacare” to the murder of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust in a blog post.

“It was wrong, inappropriate and insensitive,” he said. “When you’re in a public office, your words matter and when you use words like that that are insdefensible, I think it’s wrong.”

In a Memphis news conference, however, Haslam (questioned by the Memphis Flyer’s Jackson Baker, who kindly provided a tape) combined his declaration that Campfield’s comments were “flat-out wrong” and “indefensible” with praise of Briggs when asked if he would be neutral in the 7th Senate District primary campaign.

“In most primary races, I’ve tried not to be involved,” he said. “I think it’s a good principle for a sitting governor not to be involved.”

But then he indicated that Briggs could be an exception.
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