News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Here’s a quick trivia question: Can you name five Tennesseans who became president?
If you’re a good student of the state’s history, you probably won’t have any trouble naming former U.S. presidents Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson or James K. Polk. But a fourth or fifth?
It’s a trick question, because there were also Tennesseans who later became presidents of foreign countries, such as Sam Houston, who led the briefly-independent Republic of Texas, and William Walker, who was inaugurated as president of Nicaragua on this date in 1856.
Walker’s life is highlighted in one of the Tennessee State Library and Archives’ online exhibits. The exhibit can be found at http://tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/walker/index.htm.
Walker isn’t as famous as some Tennesseans chronicled at the State Library and Archives, but in his day, he was quite infamous for his efforts to colonize Central America.
Three years before he became president of Nicaragua, the Nashvillian led a group of 45 men who landed in Baja California, Mexico. Walker declared the land to be the Republic of Lower California and proclaimed himself to be the new country’s president. Mexican forces soon threw him and his troops out of the country and he was tried (but acquitted) for violating U.S. neutrality laws when he returned.
Walker then led a group of 57 soldiers into Nicaragua. After fighting a number of battles and eventually becoming president, he launched a plan to “Americanize” the country by declaring English the official language and encouraging U.S. residents to immigrate there. He was later ousted by the combined forces of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. After unsuccessfully attempting to regain the presidency of Nicaragua, he was eventually captured and turned over to the Honduran government, which executed him for piracy.
“The story of William Walker is one of thousands that can be found at the Tennessee State Library and Archives,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Because his life is chronicled in one of our online exhibits, it is accessible to Tennesseans free of charge, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. I encourage people to visit our web site and learn more about the resources that are just a few mouse clicks away.”
A nationwide analysis of contributions to political causes indicates that the Haslams are the leading family of “elite donors” in Tennessee.
The Sunlight Foundation last week released a list of the “1 percent of 1 percent” — 31,385 people nationwide who represent just .01 percent of the nation’s population but who made 28 percent of all political contributions involving campaigns for president and congressional offices in 2012. (Link HERE)
In Tennessee, 430 individuals made the list, contributing almost $17.3 million as a group.
Eight of the “elite political donors” in Tennessee are members of the Haslam family, including patriarch James “Jim” Haslam II, who founded Pilot Corp. as a young man. He and his son James III, or “Jimmy,” made the top 10 for Tennessee.
Jimmy Haslam was No. 5 with $176,550, his father seventh with $159,450.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Andrew Tillman as chancellor of the Eighth Judicial District Chancery Court effective immediately.
Tillman replaces late Chancellor Billy Joe White who passed away in November 2012 after serving on the bench for 35 years. The Eighth Judicial District includes Campbell, Claiborne, Fentress, Scott and Union counties.
“The Eight District is gaining an experienced legal mind with Chancellor Tillman,” Haslam said. “His career has been spent in both the public and private sectors, and I appreciate his willingness to serve.”
Since 2009, Tillman has worked as the senior law clerk for Judge Charles Susano, Jr. of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, preparing opinions for cases from all counties in the eastern section and all courts of record, including chancery court. He worked at the Knoxville firm, Paine, Tarwater, Bickers and Tillman from 1991 through 2009 and worked almost exclusively in litigation, providing advice, counseling and advocacy on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in a broad range of cases.
“I want to thank Gov. Haslam for this unique opportunity, and I look forward to serving as chancellor of the Eighth Judicial District,” Tillman said.
Tillman is a 1974 graduate of Northeastern Oklahoma State with a bachelor’s in mathematics. He earned his J.D. at the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1989 with numerous accolades. He has taught at the UT College of Law as an adjunct professor and lectured as a presenter of CLE programs.
Tillman, 61, also has practical skills as a mechanic, welder, carpenter, millwright and heavy equipment operator. He attends White Rock Baptist Church in Huntsville. He and his wife, Claudia have two children, Andi Marie and Tony.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Brian Kelsey, comparing himself at one point to Andrew Jackson in 1832, managed to delay Tuesday a vote on legislation that declares Tennessee has a right to nullify federal gun laws and charge federal agents enforcing them with committing a felony.
The committee voted 5-4 to grant Kelsey’s call to postpone a vote on the proposal (SB250) for one week while he seeks a legal opinion from state Attorney General Bob Cooper on whether it would violate the U.S. Constitution.
Sponsor Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, said the U.S. Constitution authorizes states – through their legislatures – to decide the validity of federal laws.
She understands that lawyers believe the Supreme Court is the “ultimate arbitrator” of constitutionality, Beavers said, and that has allowed justics “setting themselves up as a dictator” and “generation after generation we have just accepted that.”
But that is wrong, she said, and the 10th Amendment lets states decide what laws are constitution and which can be ignored or nullified.
Beavers’ view was reenforced by June Griffin of Dayton, who heads the Tennessee Commission on the Bill of Rights. Griffin said Tennessee’s own constitution cast upon legislators – and sheriffs around the state – a duty to resist federal intrusion by supporting the bill.
If one Tennessee legislator gets his way, federal agents could be arrested for enforcing any potential assault weapons ban. But the concept of a state trying to cancel out federal measures was already tried 180 years ago, observes WPLN’s Nina Cardona. And the president who squashed that effort was one of Nashville’s most famous residents. In 1832, the hot-button issue wasn’t guns, but tariffs-taxes on imported goods which many Southerners considered constitutionally suspect. South Carolina went so far as to declare the tariffs null and void, bar anyone from collecting them within that state, and even threatened to secede.
President Andrew Jackson responded with a proclamation taking apart the maneuver point by point.
“Near the end of it he appealed to South Carolinians directly and he said, ‘you’re Americans. You’re not just South Carolinians, you’re Americans,’ told them it was wrongheaded to consider national legislation merely from the point of local or state interest.”
University of Tennessee History Professor Daniel Feller says Jackson ultimately won that battle, showing that the Constitution simply doesn’t allow states to pick and choose which laws to follow. But Jackson also reminded states of a place they can protest: the Supreme Court.
The News Sentinel takes a trip down Tennessee history lane with a Steven Harris story on Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans, which includes commentary from a descendant of Andy and Rachel Jackson’s adopted son and various scholarly people. A recommended read for history buffs. “It is really cool to know that you are related to someone who played such an important role in not only Tennessee history, but American history,” said Knox County General Sessions Court Judge Andrew Jackson VI, the great-great-great grandson of the former president.
Jackson VI has visited the site, which is now just a field, just outside New Orleans and likes to reflect on what it was like 198 years ago for his ancestor to deal with the preparations and the fighting.
“His army was a true melting pot army in that he had regular army, militia, frontiersmen that were volunteering, Indians, freed blacks and even pirates,” Jackson VI said. “You had everybody fighting the British in that army.
“I always thought that could show you what can happen in this country when you have everybody working together toward a common goal, because they sure did beat the tar out of the British.”
…Prior to the War of 1812, Tennessee was regarded as a frontier state and a non-factor on the national scene, according to Brown.
At the call of Gov. Willie Blount, some 3,000 volunteer soldiers joined the Tennessee militia, which in turn was to join the members of the U.S. Army in the southern theater, which involved a subset of the War of 1812 known as the Creek War.
This action first earned the state its nickname as the Volunteer state.
“Had Tennessee not participated in the southern fighting, there is no doubt the war might have taken a different direction,” said Tom Kanon, an archivist at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
“Most of the fighting in the so-called Creek War was performed by Tennesseans, even though the overall plan called for a coordinated effort between some of the other Southern states and territories and federal troops. Although the ultimate outcome would probably have been the same, Tennessee sped up the process by conducting aggressive campaigns into the Creek Nation and ending the conflict by March 1814.”
The limitations on contributions to political candidates in our fair state have become so meaningless that maybe it’s time to just get rid of them.
The thought is inspired by last week’s Registry of Election Finance decision to dismiss contentions that two political action committees violated the limits law. The facts were similar, but the case involving Truth Matters PAC perhaps is the best illustration.
Andrew Miller Jr., a politically astute Nashvillian of substantial wealth, started talking up establishment of a PAC with friends sharing his views a year or so ago. The views, it seems, are more conservative than those of many Republicans, and Miller has become known as “a RINO hunter.” Or, perhaps more properly, as a supplier of ammunition to RINO-hunting candidates. RINO, of course, stands for “Republican in name only.”
Truth Matters was set up in July with Miller giving the PAC $71,000. With the Aug. 2 Republican primary looming, the PAC — which consisted then of Miller and his brother, who was listed as treasurer — promptly distributed money to conservative Republican legislative candidates trying to unseat suspected RINOs or, in other cases, prevent their election.
The board that enforces Tennessee’s campaign finance law voted Tuesday against imposing any penalties in two cases where political action committees were accused of illegally sidestepping limits on how much money can be given to candidates for the state Legislature.
In one case, Andrew Miller Jr., a Nashville businessman, set up Truth Matters PAC in July and gave it $71,000. The PAC then contributed to 10 legislative campaigns, including eight that had already received the maximum allowable donation from Miller as an individual.
Registry of Election Finance staff had raised the possibility that the PAC had been used as an illegal “conduit,” allowing Miller to bypass the limits on campaign contributions he could give the candidates as an individual.
Miller, attorney James Weaver and Tracy Miller, Andrew’s brother and treasurer of the PAC, told the Registry board they could understand the suspicion. But they said that, looking outside the “snapshot” period of the covered by the Truth Matters’ first report, the PACs activities showed Miller had obtained pledges of contributions from others before the filing and they did, in fact, contribute to the PAC after the filing.
“If I’m guilty of anything, it’s getting in a rush,” said Miller, referring to his failure to wait until others contributed to the PAC before sending PAC donations to candidates he supported.
Registry board member Lee Anne Murray said she understood that an intent to bypass campaign limits was necessary to impose a penalty and the statements by Miller and a man who intended to contribute earlier showed their was no intent to act as a conduit. Member Henry Fincher disagreed, saying the PAC had actually acted as a conduit bypassing campaign donation limits though Miller appeared “a nice guy” who was not trying to act illegally.
Fincher said that :when the next guy, who is not so nice,” does the same thing, he will be able to argue as a precedent, “Well, Andy Miller did it. Why not I?”
The board voted 4-2 against imposing any penalties. The board’s newest member, Norma Lester of Memphis, joined Fincher in voting no on the motion to dismiss.
In the other case, Green PAC was set up by Mark Green, a candidate for state Senate from Clarksville. The PAC had three donors – Green making a $250 contribution and two other men making a total of $8,000 in donations. The PAC then donated $8,000 to Green, the only candidate to get a contribution during the PAC’s first reporting period.
Rachel Barrett, treasurer of the PAC, told the Registry that Green PAC received contributions from other people after the reporting period and also gave money to multiple candidates later. Only Fincher voted no on the motion to dismiss a complaint that had been filed by Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais expects a vote today on the “Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act,” inspired by a soldier from Columbia, Tenn., who was killed in Afghanistan. The bill would prohibit the IRS from collecting taxes on forgiven student loans held by veterans whose active-duty injuries led to death.
From the Chattanooga TFP: The bill is retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001 — the start of the war in Afghanistan. Families who already have paid taxes on such loans would be eligible for a refund, according to DesJarlais’ office.
A freshman congressman seeking re-election, DesJarlais said the bill represents an easy way to fix a baffling tax code issue. It’s the first of DesJarlais’ five bills to get a standalone House vote.
“Committee chairmen, the majority leaders, veterans in Congress — everybody felt this was the right thing to do,” he said.
UPDATE: The bill passed. Here’s the resulting news release:
WASHINGTON, DC – The Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act, introduced by Representative Scott DesJarlais, M.D., (TN-04), passed the United States House of Representative today with a vote of 400-0. “I’m incredibly grateful to the many people that played a part in securing passage of this incredibly worthwhile legislation. But most importantly, I want to thank the Carpenters both for bringing this issue to my attention and for raising such an extraordinary young man,” said Representative DesJarlais. “In learning about Andrew throughout this ordeal, I’ve come to know a selfless individual who loved his country. He is truly a hero. Passing the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act is the least we can do in repaying the debt that we owe to Lance Corporal Carpenter and his family.”
A Nashville businessman told the Registry of Election Finance board Wednesday that he had counted on others to join him in financing a political action committee and conceded that their failure to do so raised the appearance that he has violated state law.
Disclosures filed prior to the Aug. 2 primary election show Andrew Miller as the sole contributor to Truth Matters PAC. The PAC was created July 10 and Miller, president of HealthMark Ventures, gave it $71,000.
At the time, Miller as an individual had already given the $1,400 maximum contribution allowed under state law to eight candidates for the state Legislature. The PAC then gave contributions of up $7,100 to the eight candidates.
Recipients in East Tennessee included Reps. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and Jeremy Faision, R-Cosby; along with Republican primary winning candidates Timothy Hill of Blountville and Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough.
Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, told the Registry board that his staff believed the moves raised the question of whether Miller used the PAC as an illegal “conduit” to circumvent the limits on how much money can be given to candidates.