State Rep. Curry Todd lived rent-free for an undisclosed amount of time in the expensive Nashville home of a prominent lobbyist in 2011, according to The Tennessean. State ethics law forbids lobbyists from providing gifts, including housing, to lawmakers. The lobbyist, Chuck Welch, regularly worked on legislative issues that passed through the House State and Local Government Committee, which Todd, R-Collierville, chaired until he was removed in late 2011.
That came after Todd, who had sponsored legislation allowing guns in places that serve alcohol, was arrested on DUI and gun charges in October 2011. He was pulled over by Metro police less than a mile from the lobbyist’s Green Hills home.
Todd acknowledged last week that he has stayed at Welch’s house on a number of occasions, but wouldn’t clarify how long he lived at 2004 Lombardy Ave. in 2011. The home sold last year for $460,000, and rent for a four-bedroom house would have been in the range of $2,000 per month.
Welch, who did not respond to a request for comment, is the managing director for the Nashville office of the influential lobbying firm Farris, Mathews and Bobango. Until his arrest, Todd wielded significant power at the capitol in his role as chairman of the House committee.
Thanks to a generous carve-out in the state ethics law, the free housing may not constitute a violation because Todd and Welch are long-time friends.
Both Welch and the firm regularly lobbied on bills considered by Todd’s committee, including the ongoing issue of how utility poles are regulated across the state. The lobbying firm’s clients include the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association. Welch’s other lobbying clients include tw telecom, the American Legal Finance Association and the Tennessee Development District Association.
Todd said his close personal friendship with Welch “has not affected my independent judgment as a lawmaker.”
Todd declined to answer questions regarding his living arrangement with Welch. His prepared statement referred to the carve-out in the state ethics law that allows for gifts to be exchanged between lobbyists and lawmakers in cases of close personal friendships. Such gifts are not required to be reported annually.
…Todd said he met Welch over 45 years ago when he was a student at Treadwell High School, where Welch’s dad coached Todd’s basketball team.
“To this day, I consider Chuck Welch a true and close friend,” Todd said in his statement to the newspaper. “In addition, I have interacted with Mr. Welch on a professional basis related to my duties as a state representative multiple times. Like any lobbyist in Nashville, Mr. Welch visits with all legislators on a regular basis.”
Shelby County’s suburban Republican state legislators filed new bills Thursday that they hope will remove court barriers to the creation of new municipal school districts in Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington, reports Richard Locker. The main bill would repeal the 1998 statewide ban on new municipal school districts. The suburban lawmakers said they believe that and three other bills will win legislative approval, including in the House of Representatives where reluctance to allow new school districts outside of Shelby County last year led to passage of a Shelby-only law that was later struck down as unconstitutional.
A federal court ruling last November halted the movement toward the creation of six new municipal districts in the suburbs, even after they were approved by voters in local referendums in August. Suburban voters also elected their first school board members in November, before the court ruling, and the boards would have worked to open the new municipal schools late this summer when the merger of the old Memphis City and Shelby County school systems will be complete.
“I expect the House to pass it,” said Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, who is sponsoring the main bill with Senate Majority Leader Mark Morris, R-Collierville. All five suburban Republican House members from Shelby are co-sponsoring all four bills.
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, said that from his conversations with lawmakers from elsewhere, “the rest of the state would really like for Shelby County to get its school situation settled.” White chairs the House Education Subcommittee, the bill’s first stop in the House.
State Rep. Curry Todd served his required sentence on a Davidson County DUI conviction in a Madison County jail, reports Jackson Baker (who initially thought Todd, R-Collierville, had been jailed on a new offense). Todd was incarcerated from Thursday, January 31, to Saturday, February 2, at the Madison County Penal Farm.
…His 48-hour stay at the Madison County Penal Farm was, in fact, the time he was obliged to serve as a result of last year’s conviction in Nashville — the one and only on his record.
The change of venue and place on the calendar were at Todd’s request, and it was all worked out between the court and law-enforcement authorities of Davidson and Madison counties, explained Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork.
“That sort of thing happens all the time,” said Woolfork, who described Todd’s time at the penal farm as uneventful. What did he do there? “Oh, he tore up uniforms,” said Woolfork, who went on to elucidate that the Sheriff’s Department was in the process of revamping the uniforms of its officers and that Todd labored away at the redesign of several.
That meant, among other things, removing the chevrons from one place on a sleeve and re-stitching them somewhere else.
And why did Rep. Todd choose Madison County as the place of his incarceration? “Oh, probably because he heard what a great sheriff I was,” Woolfork said.
Or it may have been because Jackson is a place on the map between Nashville and Memphis, both the latter places housing ample numbers of inquisitive media people.
In any case, Todd was quickly free to go.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Curry Todd pleaded guilty Friday to drunken driving and gun charges and was sentenced to 48 hours in jail and the loss of his firearm for a year.
The Collierville Republican was arrested in October 2011 in Nashville after failing a roadside sobriety test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found stuffed between the driver’s seat and center console.
Todd, who is best known for sponsoring a law that allows people with handgun carry permits to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, told reporters after the court hearing that he has no plans to resign.
“I’ve always found that we’re molded and shaped by experiences in life, both good and bad,” Todd said. “And it’s my intention to use this experience over the last 15 months to become a more knowledgeable and effective representative of the people of this state.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A delay in state Rep. Curry Todd’s court case on drunken driving and gun charges will move proceedings until next month.
The Collierville Republican was arrested in October 2011 after failing a roadside sobriety test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found stuffed between the driver’s seat and center console.
Todd is best known for sponsoring a law that allows people with handgun carry permits to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of drunken driving, possession of a firearm while under the influence and refusing a breath alcohol test.
Todd had been scheduled to appear in court on Friday, but the hearing was moved to Jan. 11. His attorney said he was still in talks with prosecutors.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Curry Todd is pleading not guilty to drunken driving and gun charges.
The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/Ov70Ck ) reports that attorney Worrick Robinson entered the plea on behalf of Todd, who did not attend the hearing in Nashville on Friday.
The Collierville Republican was arrested in October after failing a roadside sobriety test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found stuffed between the driver’s seat and center console. Todd faces charges of drunken driving, possession of a firearm while under the influence and violating the state’s implied consent law for refusing a breath alcohol test.
Todd was a main sponsor of a state law allowing handgun carry permit holders to bring firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. It’s unclear where Todd was coming from at the time of his arrest.
Further, from The Tennessean: “I’ll be speaking with the district attorney’s office,” Robinson said. “We’ll be seeing if there’s any way we can find some common ground to see if we can settle this matter.”
…The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security has said that Todd can keep his handgun carry permit, though it could be suspended for a year if he is convicted of the DUI charge.
In April, Todd announced that he had been diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
NASHVILLE, TN – Today, the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee, acting in its role as the state primary board voted to uphold the primary election results in State House District 71 and Congressional District 9.
Election contests from Shirley Curry in State House District 71 and Charlotte Bergmann in Congressional District 9 were reviewed by a state primary board subcommittee which was appointed by Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
(Note: Curry lost to Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, by four votes, according to unofficial returns. Bergmann lost to George Flinn by about 7,000 votes.)
The subcommittee unanimously recommended to the full committee that both election contests be dismissed based on their review of the election contests.
“I appreciate the hard work and diligence of the state primary board subcommittee in reviewing these contests thoroughly and fairly,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
“This review process proved that our procedures work when it comes to ensuring that we maintain the integrity of our electoral process. We are all united in our goal to defeat President Obama and Tennessee Democrats as we head toward November,” concluded Devaney.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Curry Todd’s arraignment on drunken driving and weapons charges has been delayed until next week.
The Collierville Republican was arrested in October after failing a roadside sobriety test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found stuffed in a holster between the driver’s seat and center console.
Todd was scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of drunken driving, possession of a firearm while under the influence and violating the state’s implied consent law for refusing a breath alcohol test. But the hearing was delayed until Sept. 14.
Todd was a main sponsor of a state law allowing handgun carry permit holders to bring weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. It’s unclear where Todd was traveling from at the time of his arrest.
The Jackson Sun has some details on arguments presented by Shirley Curry to a subcommittee of the state Republican Executive Committee in challenging her four-vote primary loss to state Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. One involves supposedly false campaign advertising. A decision on the challenge is still pending. Curry, who is a member of the committee, says a number of factors, including Dennis allegedly misleading voters and voter confusion over redistricting, contributed to her loss in the primary.
Dennis disputes Curry’s claims, though he does not want to address Curry’s specific arguments while the issue is pending before the committee.
“It is unfortunate that the loser in this race is asking a group, of which she is a part, to overturn the will of the voters,” said Dennis, of Savannah. “But I am confident the board will see this election contest was hard fought but fair in every way.”
In Curry’s written arguments, she said Dennis sent a piece of mail to voters in Wayne, Lewis and Lawrence counties that said he was “your representative,” even though Dennis did not represent those counties when the legislature was in session.
The counties have been added to the district through redistricting and will be represented by the winner of the election when the legislature reconvenes. Curry, of Waynesboro, also said Dennis illegally franked the campaign mailing with the state seal.
Another piece of mail displayed photos of Dennis, state Rep. Joey Hensley and Gov. Bill Haslam, calling them the “Lewis and Lawrence Counties’ Team!”
According to Curry, Hensley did not know his name was used until he received the mailing.
Hensley’s cousin put up Dennis signs until Hensley talked to him, Curry said.
Two people told Hensley that they voted for Dennis because they thought Dennis was Hensley’s choice, she said.
Hensley confirmed the accounts. He said he did not want to speak on the race publicly, but when asked privately, he told people he was voting for Curry.
“When Vance sent this mail piece out, it really was disconcerting to me that he would do that when I had told him that I did not want to publicly endorse either one of them,” Hensley said. “… It made it appear I was endorsing Vance when that really wasn’t the truth.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A special panel of members of the state Republican Party’s executive committee is meeting behind closed doors to consider an election challenge in a legislative primary race.
The six-member subcommittee appointed by Chairman Chris Devaney was scheduled to meet in Nashville on Thursday morning to evaluate the challenge brought by Shirley Curry, who wants to overturn her four-vote loss in the House District 71 primary.
Adam Nickas, the executive director of the party, wouldn’t say why the public wouldn’t be allowed to follow the hearing and declined to elaborate on the basis for Curry’s challenge.
The special panel will make recommendations to the full executive committee on Sept. 5.
Messages seeking comment from Curry and Dennis were not immediately returned on Wednesday.
— Note: The six members of the subcommittee are Rob Ailey of Seymour, chairman; Betty Cannon of Nashville; Beth Campbell of Nashville, Kurt Holbert of Decaturville; Paula Sedgewick of Arlington and Ken Gross of Knoxville.