Tag Archives: andy holt

Holt vs. TNDP on election administrator’s exit

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. Continue reading

New AG opinion: Cities not violating TN traffic camera law

Expanding on an opinion released in July, the Tennessee attorney general says cities that contract with red-light camera companies are not violating state law, reports the News Sentinel.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery, in his opinion Monday, said the state’s statute that requires a certified police officer determine whether laws were broken does not mean that others cannot examine video images. (Note: Full opinion HERE.)

“Vendors engaging in sorting or pre-screening of the video footage are not making a determination that a violation has occurred,” Slatery wrote. “Rather, they are simply ensuring that the law enforcement officers who make those determinations do so efficiently by reviewing only usable information.”

He concluded: “In short, the statute does not prevent a city from contracting with a private vendor to sort or screen the video information for footage that cannot form the basis for a citation.”

Knoxville earlier this month opted to extend its current red-light camera contract with Lasercraft Inc. for 60 days to give city staff time to study Slatery’s first ruling and wait for subsequent opinions. Continue reading

Rep. Andy Holt’s legislative staffer fired

Michael Lofti, state Rep. Andy Holt’s legislative assistant, was fired Thursday morning amid questions about work he’s done through his personal political company for several state lawmakers, reports The Tennessean. .

(Connie) Ridley, who is the director of Legislative Administration, confirmed that she met with Lotfi on Thursday and informed him that he would not be retained for the upcoming 110th General Assembly. When asked for an explanation about the decision, Ridley said she is not allowed to discuss personnel actions.

…Lotfi said Thursday that Ridley told him some legislators and staff members working at the Capitol were “uncomfortable” with him being in the statehouse and working on legislative campaigns.

Since 2014, Lotfi’s company — BrandFire Consulting — has been hired by several state lawmakers, including Holt, R-Dresden; Reps. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin; Sheila Butt, R-Columbia; and Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro; in addition to Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville.

BrandFire has received nearly $200,000 in payments for providing everything from advertising and consulting to web development related to political campaigns, according to state records. Lotfi says he didn’t pocket all of that money, instead using it to pay employees and for ads for some of his clients.

Lotfi, who made $2,858 a month as Holt’s assistant, said when he met with Ridley she handed him a sheet of paper outlining the history of BrandFire’s business. He said she told him he was “making too much money.”

Trying to further explain what he believe led to his firing, Lotfi said there also were rumors circulating around the Capitol that he was involved in Rocky Top Politics, an anonymous conservative blog.

“I had done my best to dispel those (rumors),” he said, denying any involvement with the blog.

“He’s not Rocky Top Politics, I know, for sure,” Holt said.

Lotfi said when he was first hired in January 2015, it was clear that he was not allowed to have BrandFire work with any candidates challenging GOP incumbent lawmakers. Lotfi also said he understood that he couldn’t do any work related to his political consulting company during the hours he worked as Holt’s assistant.

Holt said the firing was “100 percent” politically motivated. “Everybody up there is attracted like a moth to a flame to politics. Nobody that’s working in those offices got there by happenstance,” Holt said, explaining that he and Lotfi delayed any campaign-related discussions until after their daily legislative work was done at the end of the day.

“It’s all to do with the speakers’ race. I work for Mark Green. Harwell wants to run for governor,” Lotfi said, adding that Holt frequently butts heads with Republican leaders, be it House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, or Gov. Bill Haslam.

Harwell spokeswoman Kara Owen referred questions to Ridley.

Holt says AG Slatery agrees with him on traffic camera companies violating TN law

News release from state Rep. Andy Holt (with the headline, ‘Attorney General Sides with Rep. Holt)
NASHVILLE, Thursday, July 07, 2016– Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) has been on a crusade against the use of photo-enforcement cameras for many years, citing that they are illegal and turn the American justice system on its head. Giving a boost to Holt’s argument, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery responded to a request by Holt to opine on whether or not out-of-state traffic camera companies contracted by Tennessee cities were in violation of state law on Wednesday afternoon.

(Note: The opinion is HERE.)

At the heart of Holt’s issue, is the fact that out-of-state photo-enforcement companies contracted throughout the state of Tennessee have utilized non-law enforcement employees to preliminarily review video footage of supposed traffic violations, and are then making determinations regarding whether or not a violation has occurred. The scrubbed footage is then sent back to local law enforcement agencies with violations that are simply rubber-stamped by a POST-certified officer. Local law enforcement agencies often claim that an officer “witnessed” the supposed violator and by placing their signature on the ticket claim to validate the supposed violation. For all practical purposes, actual law enforcement personnel have been removed from the current photo-enforcement process, with the single exception of simply placing the signature of an officer on each ticket that has already been processed by the employees of these private companies.
Continue reading

Kelsey wins straw poll at Holt’s gun giveaway ‘Hogfest;’ Democrats bash ‘media circus’ event

News release from Rep. Andy Holt
DRESDEN, Tenn., June 28, 2016– Last Saturday, Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) hosted the first Holt’s HogFest & Turkey Shoot at his family farm in the rural town of Dresden in West Tennessee. The event garnered world-wide attention as Holt ‘stuck to his guns’ in his plan to give away two AR15s and drew attendees from all across the State of Tennessee.

“It was an incredible evening. At one point, we had more than 50 people waiting in line to register. We had folks coming from as far east as Johnson City and all the way west from Memphis,” said Holt. “We raised more than $16,000, not a single person was injured, and there were probably more firearms there than there were people. It was a fantastic celebration of the 2nd Amendment, God, and country.”

The event was open carry and was attended by most of the top-tier candidates running for U.S. Congress in Tennessee’s 8th District which includes Holt’s State House district. Congressional candidates Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Dr. George Flinn were scheduled to attend, but did not show, although Flinn did send a representative from his campaign to speak on his behalf.
Continue reading

Sunday column: On legislators in the summer spotlight

Tennessee’s legislative session may be gone, but legislators are not forgotten in the state media spotlight this summer — especially Reps. Jeremy Durham of Franklin, Andy Holt of Dresden and Martin Daniel of Knoxville.

Though getting out-of-session attention for different reasons, the three have some things in common. They’re Republicans who present themselves to voters as staunch conservatives unafraid to take controversial positions and who face opposition in seeking re-election to new terms.

In the Legislature, the three have been prominent for different reasons. Durham’s most prominent claim to fame was what he called “the Stop Obamacare Act,” a measure that required legislative approval of any Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. Gov. Bill Haslam had already promised not to act without legislative approval, but after his Insure Tennessee plan was killed, Durham and his co-sponsors claimed credit. Continue reading

Holt to pay for 5 gun permits; says other legislators should do same

News release from state Rep. Andy Holt
Nashville, Tenn., June 16, 2016—In wake of the Orlando Terror Attack, Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) has announced that he will personally pay for the first five people that contact his office to get their handgun carry permits.

“I want people to arm themselves,” said Holt. “Why am I doing this? It’s very simple. People need to be prepared, and we’ve got a situation where government and those on the left are trying to disarm people in the middle of some of the most dangerous times we’ve faced in decades. It’s literally crazy. Furthermore, I think members of the LGBT community are starting to realize how crazy it is that Democrats want to leave them completely defenseless, no less in the wake of a terror attack that explicitly targeted them. People have a right to defend themselves.”

Holt says the first five people that contact his office will be directed on how to apply for their permit, and he will cover the cost for a 3-year permit.

“Look, it’s no secret that I’m a conservative, and I may not necessarily agree with the LGBT lifestyle, but I would never have these people become sitting ducks for those that wish them harm,” said Holt. “That goes for anyone that may disagree with me politically. I want every last person in the State of Tennessee to be prepared to defend themselves should the need arise.”

Holt says he is also calling on other legislators to follow along and offer to pay for 5 others to get their permits to help raise awareness.

Andy Holt is a Republican State Representative for District 76, which includes Weakley, as well as parts of Carroll and Obion counties.

Holt to press charges against ‘Democrat activist’ caller (UPDATE: Caller ‘freaked out’?)

News release from Rep. Andy Holt
NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 14, 2016— On Tuesday, the office of Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) was able to identify the caller who made multiple calls on Monday evening threatening the life of staffer Michael Lotfi and Holt himself as Democrat activist Michael Barrach.

“We spoke with law enforcement and other staffers here at the capitol and they say the number and behavior matches that of Mr. Barrach,” said Lotfi. “In fact, we learned this isn’t the first time Mr. Barrach has made threats to Republican legislators and staffers at the Capitol. According to other staffers, he’s called at least 3 other Republican legislators recently and made similar threats.”

Holt plans to press charges and move forward with a criminal investigation. Continue reading

Holt, staffer report phone threats over gun giveaway

News release from Rep.Andy Holt
NASHVILLE, June 13, 2016—On Monday evening, the office of State Representative Andy Holt received multiple phone calls from a Memphis, Tennessee phone number. The caller on the other end of the phone, who did not identify himself, made multiple threats to Rep. Andy Holt’s executive legislative assistant, Michael Lotfi and Holt himself. The caller made the threats in response to comments Holt made earlier in the day regarding his intentions to give away an AR-15.

“The caller dialed our office multiple times starting at around 5:00 PM and asked whether or not Representative Holt was in the office and when he would be returning,” said Lotfi. “He then went on to threaten to ‘beat our asses’ and made multiple mentions of the fact that he had many guns and knew how to use them. I told the caller that I was not at liberty to discuss Representative Holt’s campaign and that he should not call the Capitol regarding such issues. However, he continued to call and started to make threats. Holt is a big guy, as am I, and we can both take care of ourselves, but we felt the need to report this to the state troopers considering that there are many children and women here at the capitol on a daily basis.”

Lotfi began recording the phone conversations after the caller continued to dial the office. Continue reading

Rep. Holt sticks to gun giveaway plans

State Rep. Andy Holt is firmly standing behind his decision to give away a semi-automatic rifle of the same model used in the Orlando shooting massacre, reports The Tennessean.

While announcing his plans last week to hold his first annual “Hog Fest and Turkey Shoot,” Holt, R-Dresden, said he will give away an AR-15 as a door prize to an attendee of his June 25 fundraiser.

The event is also scheduled to include a turkey shoot — participants are encouraged to bring their own rifle and ammo.

Holt said despite Sunday’s massacre in Orlando that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded, he remains stalwart in his belief that the weapon used in the mass shooting is not to blame.

“It has nothing to do with the style of weapon. It has everything to do with who’s behind the weapon,” said Holt, who has sponsored several gun bills, including one recently enacted law that allows full-time employees at Tennessee colleges and universities to carry weapons on campus.

Holt said the weapon is the type that can be used for multiple purposes including hunting, target shooting and self-defense.

He said the only thing wrong with the AR-15 is that “it’s black and it looks real scary” adding, “If I beat somebody to death with a hammer that’s just a hammer. But if I was to take and wrap it up in electrical tape and make it black I guess that would make it an assault hammer.”

Holt said there is no functional difference between any semi-automatic weapon and an AR-15, and argued that it didn’t matter that an AR-15 had been used in various American mass shootings in recent years, including the 2012 shooting in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater and last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. “It’s not about the gun. It has everything to do with the position and condition of that person’s heart that’s behind the gun behind pulling the trigger,” he said.

UPDATE/Note: TNDP Chair Mary Mancini says Holt is a “reckless and irresponsible gun owner.” Release below. Continue reading