A prominent business owner and political fundraiser has not paid property taxes on his corporate headquarters in at least eight years, reports WTVF-TV. Garry McNabb is the CEO and owner of Cash Express LLC, which has locations across the South. He has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to democratic and republican candidates. The corporate office of Cash Express LLC. is in Cookeville.
But Putnam County property records have listed the office building as being owned by the state of Tennessee — which is exempt from all property taxes.
No one has paid property taxes on the building since McNabb and three others bought it in 2004.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked McNabb “Why haven’t you paid property taxes on that property?”
McNabb responded, “Because the state has never sent me a bill.”
The property deed shows McNabb and others bought the building, which used to be an unemployment office, from the state of Tennessee.
But neither McNabb nor his partners registered the deed, so the building kept appearing on the tax rolls as state property.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration on Tuesday rolled out its amendment to the appropriations bill, which includes nearly $45 million to increase the amount of cash grants available to companies looking to invest in Tennessee.
The measure allows the state to provide Fast Track grants for retrofitting, relocation, office upgrades or temporary space for companies investing in Tennessee.
“The money is linked to two or three potential employee expansions or new locations here,” Haslam told reporters after a speech to the state Chamber of Commerce. “We’re not there yet, but we wanted to put something in the budget.”
The state has appropriated more than $200 million to the program over the last three budget years and Haslam proposed pouring another $80 million for last year and this year.
Other items in the budget amendment include:
— $5 million from the tobacco settlement for health programs.
— 3 million for planning for the State Library and Archives and State Museum.
— $1.4 million for peer support centers run by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
— $1.3 million for infrastructure at Rocky Fork State Park;
— $1 million for a nursing program at Parsons Center of the University of Tennessee-Martin.
— $1 million for the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
Sen. Stacey Campfield cast the sole vote against Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to begin giving corporations cash grants for expanding or locating in Tennessee after declaring they could be a step toward “crony capitalism.”
The bill (HB2344) was approved by the Senate 29-1 and now goes to the governor for his signature. It was approved 96-0 in the House. The “FastTrack” grants would be in addition to tax credits and infrastructure improvements that no go to companies moving into Tennessee.
Campfield, R-Knoxville, defined crony capitalism in a floor speech as “when governments start using taxpayer dollars to gamble with.”
Couching some of his comments in the form of questions to the bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville, Campfield compared the proposal to the national controversy over Solyndra Inc., which received huge federal grants and then went bankrupt.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s effort to close off public access to company information used to decide economic development grants was withdrawn Wednesday.
Republican Sen. Bo Watson of Hixson said that the decision followed a failure to reach a compromise.
“I just don’t think we could get the language right to satisfy everybody’s needs,” Watson said. “The administration sort of recognized that they were kind of at an impasse in trying to get the language right, and said we’ll just try this next year.”
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — House Republicans insist their vote Wednesday for a plan to expand a state economic development inventive program does not conflict with their mantra that government can’t create jobs.
The chamber voted 96-0 for the measure proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam and carried by Republican Rep. Tim Wirgau of Paris, who said the expanded cash grant program would help spur investment in economically distressed areas of the state.
“Let me make it very clear that we’re not going to be standing on the Capitol steps and just doling out checks,” Wirgau said.
The measure, which awaits a vote in the Senate before it can head for Haslam’s signature, would allow the state to provide Fast Track grants for retrofitting, relocation, office upgrades or temporary space for companies investing in Tennessee.
The current Fast Track program is limited to jobs training and infrastructure improvements. The state has appropriated $217 million to the program over the last three budget years and Haslam has proposed pouring another $80 million for the current and upcoming budget year.
Scott McNutt lampoons the governor’s push for cash grants to businesses – and the lieutenant governor’s push for unlimited PAC donations – in his Sunday satire column. Excerpts: Gov. Bill Haslam, R-One Percent, recently announced a plan to lure businesses to Tennessee by throwing massive amounts of cash at them without public knowledge.
Haslam’s proposal would change the focus of Tennessee’s FastTrack program from tax incentives and infrastructure installment to simple bribery to draw companies to relocate or expand in the state. The program would be renamed the FastCash program.
Haslam explained that lots of cold, hard cash, preferably in small bills secretly delivered in discreet brown paper bags, is the surest way to incentivize businesses.
“Businesses don’t care about tax breaks or infrastructure,” he said. “I’m from business; I know what businesses want. We want money — gobs of money, oodles of money, geysers of money, money coming out of our noses. Companies will only be lured by an avalanche of cash — a cashalanche.”
In defiance of the just-ended Sunshine Week, which celebrates open government and freedom of information, Haslam said the public should remain in the dark about his business cashalanches.
“If you ask other states, they’ll tell you, ‘We don’t tell the little people about our big-business cashalanches,'” he said.
Haslam proposes building giant cash slides to direct money across the state to companies he has targeted. He noted that these slides might overrun existing infrastructure and services.
The governor’s plan prompted the Tennessee Buyway Patrol to issue a statewide cashalanche watch. The TBP said citizens should be alert for waves of bills sweeping past the state’s crumbling infrastructure and underfunded services on their way to the targeted businesses.
…Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey was not pleased with Haslam’s proposal. He said the FastTrack program should entail “doing for businesses what they don’t care to do themselves.
“By that I mean, when new employers come in, we ought to pick up their dry-cleaning, provide valet service, maybe shine their shoes and bring them breakfast in bed,” he said. “We shouldn’t just throw money at them. That will make them feel cheap.”
Ramsey’s opposition to Haslam’s FastCash proposal may stem from his support of a bill repealing limits on how much of itself politically active cash (PAC) can throw at legislative candidates.
Under current law, PACs can throw no more than $107,200 of themselves per election at a House or Senate candidate — or $214,400 for a primary and general election combined.
Ramsey wants to eliminate all limitations on political contributions and simply require that recipients disclose amounts received by scribbling a note on the refrigerator door.
“Limits are silly because government officials’ appetite for money is limitless,” he said. “Businesses should throw us money, not vice versa. If the governor gives cash to private employers, then we must make them funnel it back to us via PACs. It’s like E=MC2, where matter is neither created nor destroyed; only this formula decrees employers’ cash equals our money. We need an endless money-back feedback loop.”
Gov. Bill Haslam listed two possible beneficiaries of his legislation to authorize more payments of state cash for business expansions that create jobs during a visit to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. And he said some information involved in such dealings needs to be kept secret.
The prospects: Audi, a division of Volkswagen, and Nissan, which is eyeing expansion of its Decherd, Tenn., engine plant. If the governor’s proposed legislative package of 55 bills passes, the German and Japanese automakers could receive both state grants and protection for business secrets revealed during negotiations.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said the privacy allowances won’t make deals less transparent and won’t apply to existing records.
“It’s to increase [companies’] confidence in sharing information with us,” he said.
But critics complain the legislation undermines public confidence in the process.
“Our politicians should not consider themselves the gatekeepers for the private economy,” said Ben Cunningham, a tea party activist and spokesman for Tennessee Tax Revolt. “It’s a slap in the face to the whole idea of open government.”
Haslam said cash grants under the state’s Fast Track business development program must go through the State Funding Board and must be budgeted in an open process.
“If there are things that are part of the companies’ proprietary business operations, that shouldn’t be open for review because we do think that opening those records would have a chilling effect on companies that want to apply with us,” Haslam said.
…The broader thrust of the plan, Haslam said, is a push to give negotiators increased flexibility in what activities they can fund.
State grants previously could only go toward infrastructure and training. If lawmakers embrace his plan, state money could also pay for some site work and relocation expenses.
But those extra qualifiers only apply under special circumstances, primarily if an employer is looking to create a large number of jobs in a small community, he said.
“This is targeted at unemployment in rural areas,” Haslam said.
The proposal will de-emphasize tax credits and boost the state’s ability to give grants on the front end, which he said have proven more popular among businesses looking to build on Tennessee’s ample acreage.
News release from Scott DesJarlais campaign:
(Jasper, Tennessee) – Representative Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) today announced that his recently filed FEC report will show in excess of $606K in total receipts for the 2012 election cycle and over $436K cash on hand.
The report is available online.
These fundraising totals are far more than former Democrat Congressman Lincoln Davis ever had at the end of a non-election year and are historically high for Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District.
The report will also show the DesJarlais campaign raised $154,127 for the fourth quarter – the campaign’s best fundraising quarter to date.
Said Representative DesJarlais. “I ran for Congress because I wanted the people of Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional district to have an independent, conservative voice in Washington. From the beginning, I promised my constituents that above all else, I would never lose sight of the fact that I work for them. I’m committed to continuing my efforts to bring common sense, conservative solutions to meet the challenges that our nation faces.”
On Friday, the DesJarlais campaign launched a district-wide radio ad buy highlighting Congressman DesJarlais’ conservative record, including votes to repeal Obamacare and his work to reduce spending and our national debt.
The radio ad is available at: www.scottdesjarlais.com/radio
— UPDATE: Andy Sher has some details on the donations: His FEC report shows donors including leadership political action committees affiliated with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. Each contributed $5,000. Prosperity PAC, associated with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., gave $5,000.
Kock Industries PAC, which is associated with the controversial Republican conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch, gave $2,500 to DesJarlais.
Jimmy Haslam III, the brother of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, gave $3,500 while Jimmy Haslam’s wife, Susan, gave $2,000 to DesJarlais. Colleen Welch, Vanderbilt University’s director of nursing and wife of Republican developer and fundraiser Ted Welch, gave $850.
News release from comptroller’s office:
Riverdale High School’s football team has had tremendous success on the field over the last two decades – winning four state championships and finishing as state runner-up five times.
However, a review by the Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Audit found a number of off-the-field problems not with the championship players, but with a group of adults that raises money to support the Rutherford County football powerhouse.
The investigative audit uncovered numerous problems with the collection and accounting of funds by the Riverdale High School Quarterback Club that appear to have led to thousands of dollars in missing or misspent fundraiser profits.
Also, auditors found that the club paid at least $7,000 to the school’s athletic director, an assistant football coach and a volunteer wrestling coach in violation of school board and Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association rules. Auditors were unable to find any documentation that the club issued IRS Form 1099 for tax purposes to those three individuals.
The audit, which covers the period from January 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, was launched in the fall of 2008 but its completion was delayed by a year because club officers refused to produce documents auditors needed to finish their work.
The findings of the audit, outlined in letters sent to Riverdale High School Quarterback Club and Rutherford County school officials today, also disclosed that the Quarterback Club ran its concession stand in violation of state law for the 2008 football season by not maintaining proper documentation of expenses and profits. Because records were inadequate, state auditors were unable to determine whether the lower-than-expected profit was the result of theft, mismanagement or other reasons. The audit noted that the former club president, who was in charge of ordering products for the concession stand, was also the salesman for the company from which most concession products were purchased.
Documentation of other fundraising activities by the club was also inadequate, making it impossible for auditors to determine if fundraising proceeds were properly deposited or misappropriated. The club’s treasurer didn’t issue any receipts for collections between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009 and documentation was insufficient to determine if deposits were made for at least two of the fundraising activities.
Auditors also discovered that the Quarterback Club’s debit card was used to purchase alcoholic beverages and that the club received and deposited collections from season ticket sales which, according to state law, belonged to the school.
“It is obvious that the students, parents, teachers and administrators at Riverdale High School have a great deal of pride in their football team,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “It’s very unfortunate that poor record-keeping and accounting practices by the Riverdale High School Quarterback Club could distract from the on-field accomplishments of the team and its student-athletes. Also, in the future, I hope club officials will be more mindful of the requirements they have to provide certain financial information to our auditors.”
To view the report online, go to:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Bob Corker raised $2.6 million in the second quarter and has a $5.3 million balance on hand for bid to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate.
The former Chattanooga mayor has yet to draw a serious opponent from either party for next year’s race.
Corker chief of staff Todd Womack said in a statement that the senator’s campaign is “grateful for the overwhelming generosity of citizens across Tennessee.”
Corker in 2006 defeated Democrat Harold Ford Jr. by fewer than 3 percentage points in what was the most expensive race in Tennessee history. Corker spent nearly $18.6 million in the successful bid to succeed fellow Republican Sen. Bill Frist.