A Democratic activist from Monteagle, Tenn., says she’s eyeing a potential run in Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District in 2014, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Lenda Sherrell, a retired CPA who worked last year as a Tennessee volunteer for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, said she is in a “very early exploratory” stage of seeing whether to run in the sprawling district, which takes in all or parts of 15 counties.
“Frankly, I’m just not far enough along to know for sure that’s what I’m going to do,” said Sherrell, who formerly lived and worked in Chattanooga. “But it’s a possibility.”
The district is now held by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., a South Pittsburg, Tenn., physician, who already faces GOP primary opposition in 2014 from two announced candidates — state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas.
“I’m a wife, a mother and grandmother, all of my life I’ve spent a lot of my time volunteering in the community,” said Sherrell, who spent some three decades in Chattanooga where she worked for a local accounting firm and once served as the private McCallie School’s controller.
Veteran lobbyist and political consultant Tom Ingram is being paid $5,000 per month by Gov. Bill Haslam’s re-election campaign, a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.
David Smith said the monthly payments began on July 1. Before that, Haslam had been paying Ingram with personal funds and had refused to disclose the amount of his personal payments.
Asked if the $5,000 monthly campaign payments are the same as the undisclosed personal payments that proceeded, Smith declined to comment.
The campaign payments would eventually have become public, but disclosure would not be required until Jan. 31, 2014, the next date for filing a campaign disclosure in a non-election year.
The $5,000 payments will be at a considerably lower level than payments to Ingram and the Ingram Group, a consulting and lobbying firm he founded, during the intense 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Total payments to Ingram and the Ingram Group by the 2010 Haslam campaign totaled more than $600,000, according to a review of Registry of Election Finance records, starting with a $20,000 payment to Ingram on June 2, 2009, and ending with a payment of $20,834 to the Ingram Group on Jan. 27, 2011.
Smith said the payments by the 2014 campaign will be made to the Ingram Group.
On a sorta related note, see Gail Kerr’s column, which heaps praise upon Ingram while giving him a bit of a lecture, too, for failure to register as a lobbyist. An excerpt: Ingram’s a pro. These are dumb, little mistakes he shouldn’t have made. Whether he’s playing small ball with the council or long ball with the big boys, he needs to play by the rules.
Tom Ingram knows better
The lone Democrat to voice interest in running against Gov. Bill Haslam for governor said he’ll stick to running for re-election to his West Tennessee House district instead, reports The City Paper. “I’m committed to continuing as leader and trying to run for my representative position again. That’s what I’m going to do, I believe,” House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh told The City Paper.
“I certainly hope that we can find somebody who will step forward because I do think some of the things that are happening in our state are not going the way that they could,” he said.
Fitzhugh first raised the possibility of a run for governor in December. (Previous post HERE)
See also, The Tennessean story.
In his latest campaign finance disclosure, state Sen. Stacey Campfield lists former Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale as providing an in-kind contribution valued at $1,000 to Campfield’s re-election campaign.
That’s because, Campfield said in an interview Wednesday, Ragsdale was reported as giving $100 to Richard Briggs, who has announced he will oppose the incumbent senator in next year’s Republican primary. In-kind contributions are those made other than in cash or check. Typically, they involve things like furnishing food for a reception or providing a room rent-free for a campaign event. Campfield says he believes Ragsdale, by donating to Briggs, effectively made an even bigger contribution to his campaign.
“I think it was a gift to me that he was endorsing my opponent,” Campfield said. “I’d honestly say that’s worth $1,000 to me. … Most people know the things that Mike Ragsdale represented and supported when he was in office … (and) that’s a clear distinction between my opponent and me.”
Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2014 reelection campaign netted only about a $120,000 gain in the first six months of the year because of expenditures that included payments to three campaign workers who were also on the state’s payroll.
The campaign reported $347,913 in contributions from Jan. 15 until July 1 of this year, along with $226,968 in spending. Thanks to earlier fundraising and an $8,320 carryover from the 2010 campaign, the governor’s re-election fund still had a balance of more than $2 million cash on hand.
The disclosure also shows Haslam is continuing to list $3.5 million that he personally put into the 2010 campaign as a loan to the 2014 campaign, meaning he can use surplus funds from the 2014 effort to repay himself with campaign money if he chooses.
So far, Haslam has no announced opponent to his reelection.
Top donors on the contributor list include Tom Beasley, a founder of Corrections Corporation of America, and his wife, Wendy, and Joseph Gregory of Piney Flats, part of a family that became wealthy through King Pharmaceuticals, and his wife, Lucinda. Each donated $7,600, the maximum permitted by state law for an individual.
After a conversation with Sen. Stacey Campfield, District Attorney General Randy Nichols said Wednesday he is asking the TBI to proceed with an investigation into whether state anti-harassment laws were violated by automated calls to voters asking their opinion of the senator.
Campfield told Nichols, according to interviews with both men, that he believes the calls were intended to make people mad at him and that a possible source of the calls was Ben Farmer, who owns Cyragon LLC, a political consulting company that has been paid $7,000 by the campaign of Richard Briggs, an announced opponent to Campfield in the 2014 Republican primary.
Briggs said he had nothing to do with the “robo poll” made late last month. Farmer has acted as a consultant to his campaign, he said.
Nichols said that preliminary inquires left it apparent that some people receiving the calls “felt they were harassed” and “we’re going to go a little deeper into it to see if we can determine who caused the calls to be made.”
Some people reported receiving repeated call backs – as many as 37 – and Campfield contends the calls appeared programmed to keep calling back the same number until the respondent gave an unfavorable opinion of Campfield.
Excerpt from a News Sentinel editorial on Gov. Bill Haslam hiring Tom Ingram with personal funds to serve as a consultant: Haslam has said he still consults Ingram on political matters but pays for that advice out of pocket. The campaign finance disclosure forms he has submitted since his election show no payments to Ingram.
But they should.
Drew Rawlins, who is the executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Election Finance, said in an interview that an officeholder’s out-of-pocket payments for a consultant are not necessarily required to be included on disclosures. If an officeholder seeks advice on governance, he or she might not have to report the payment. If the candidate receives campaign advice, Rawlins said, disclosure would be required.
The solution is simple. Haslam should file amended campaign finance disclosure forms that reflect Ingram’s pay for political advice. And he should transfer funds to his campaign account to cover the costs. Though not necessarily required by the letter of the law, disclosure would enhance the governor’s standing as a proponent of openness.
As governor, Haslam should be transparent about the money he spends on political matters. There is nothing wrong with paying Ingram — or anyone else, for that matter — for political insight. He just needs to divulge such transactions to the citizens of Tennessee so they know who is speaking into the governor’s ear.
For the second time, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is asking a Nashville judge to seal court records that would reveal his campaign’s inner workings, according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. The Ooltewah Republican’s goal is to prevent political opponents from seeing or distributing 1,800 pages of polling research, internal emails and strategy memos. Someone suing Fleischmann requested the documents as part of the civil discovery process.
In a filing, Fleischmann’s attorney said the congressman would supply the papers as long as they’re hidden from public view.
“The Court should order that any of these documents filed with the Court should be placed under seal, only to be opened in accordance with a subsequent court order,” the motion for a protective order states.
Fleischmann, an attorney, is joined in the motion by his co-defendant, Chip Saltsman, the congressman’s longtime political adviser and onetime Washington-based chief of staff.
Both men are fighting a defamation lawsuit stemming from claims in a three-year-old Fleischmann TV ad. Documents filed in Davidson County Circuit Court this week show the case is set for trial Feb. 24.
Political operative Mark Winslow filed the lawsuit. During the 2010 Republican primary, he worked for Fleischmann’s toughest opponent, former Tennessee GOP Chairwoman Robin Smith.
In an interview Friday, Winslow attorney Gary Blackburn said Fleischmann’s polling data motivated Saltsman to create “negative ads” that twisted the truth and ruined Winslow’s professional reputation.
“If a congressman’s tracking the success of lies,” Blackburn said, “shouldn’t the public be allowed to know that?”
Through a spokesman, Fleischmann declined to comment. He has described the lawsuit as “frivolous” and politically motivated. Saltsman, a well-known Republican strategist who managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign, did not respond to a request for comment.
Talk of U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ involvement in abortions and sex with patients have become more prominent in the media lately, but his challengers in next year’s Republican primary say they don’t foresee using the reports in negative campaigning, reports Chris Carroll. State Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, are challenging DesJarlais in next year’s 4th District Republican primary.
The second-term incumbent, a physician fined $500 last week by the state’s medical board, continues to battle charges of unethical behavior. According to the board’s findings, he had sex with two of his patients in 2000. Ten years later, he successfully campaigned as an anti-abortion advocate. Then in 2012, documents turned up showing he encouraged his ex-wife to get two abortions in the 1990s.
Voters last year knew about the Jasper Republican’s sex with patients and re-elected him. But they only found out about the abortion revelations after Election Day, meaning Carr and Tracy have the first crack at painting DesJarlais as a hypocrite.
To hear the challengers tell it, though, this is just your average Republican primary. In a recent interview, Carr said he “despises” and “loathes” negative campaigning. Those statements came a day after he hired Chip Saltsman, a GOP strategist known for his work in the political dark arts.
“We’re not running a campaign based on what happened to the congressman 12 or 14 years ago,” Carr said last week. “That’s not why we’re in this race.”
Tracy? For now, equally dismissive when asked about DesJarlais’ struggles.
“I’m focused on what I call a grass-roots, issue-oriented campaign — Benghazi, the IRS and restoring the public’s trust in government,” Tracy said. “People will be able to tell the difference between me and Congressman DesJarlais.”
Former Rep. Zach Wamp said it’s admirable — but probably unrealistic — to think that both candidates will uphold their positive pledges. Victory means everything, he said, and desperate candidates go to desperate lengths to get there.
“None of this means their campaign operatives are not planting seeds everywhere they go to try to raise the negatives of the incumbent while publicly touting their own positive platform,” Wamp said.
Wamp predicted that, throughout the campaign, debate moderators, media organizations and the challengers’ supporters will air DesJarlais’ troubles without Carr and Tracy ever lifting a finger.
“They’ll want to be as clean and positive as they possibly can be,” Wamp said, “and these revelations already will be on the table.”
News release from Joe Carr campaign:
Lascassas, TN- Rep. Joe Carr announced today that veteran GOP strategist Chip Saltsman has joined his team in his bid to win the GOP primary in Tennessee’s 4th Congressional district. The announcement follows Carr’s recent entrance into the race earlier this month and a highly successful fundraising period.
In just 6 weeks, Carr’s exploratory committee raised over $205,000 (nearly double the amount raised by incumbent Rep. Scott Desjarlais during the most recent filing period).
“We are excited that Chip will lead our team,” Carr stated. “Chip brings significant firepower and experience to our campaign. His excellent track record of managing both statewide and national campaigns is invaluable. Chip is a leader and proven winner in the conservative movement. I’m thankful for his friendship and for the opportunity to serve with him to advance the conservative principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility and state sovereignty that are among the pillars of American exceptionalism.”