Tag Archives: Democrats

More TN partisan sniping over misbehavior

The Tennessee Republican Party has cited the theft charges filed against Hamblen County’s Democratic Party chairman in a news release that declares “misbehavior by Democratic officials has become a theme in 2016.”

The Tennessee Democratic Party has cited domestic violence charges filed against Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold, already facing trial on federal corruption charges, as an another example that “Tennessee Republican corruption goes all the way to the core.”

The Morristown Citizen-Tribune reported last week that Timothy Wayne Woodard of Talbott, Hamblen County Democratic chairman and a member of the county election commission, has been indicted by a grand jury on nine misdemeanor counts of theft and illegal removal of documents from the Circuit Court office where he once worked.

The newspaper quoted an investigator as saying there were actually 57 files missing from the court office and all were recovered — 55 from the lawyer’s office where Woodard now works and two from his brief cases. Continue reading

Harwell: DUI mistake not my fault

Responding to criticism from Democratic legislators, House Speaker Beth Harwell is defending her efforts to speed up lawmaking at the state Capitol, reports WPLN. She says spending more time on a new drunken driving measure — virtually certain now to be repealed — would not have made any difference.

Harwell says next week’s special session was not caused by Republicans rushing through the law at the end of the regular session in April. She says the new DUI law actually didn’t move all that fast, noting that 14 months lapsed from the time it was introduced to when it was passed.

“So there was sufficient time to look at this,” she says. “Attorneys reviewed it. Research analysts reviewed it. The commissioner of Transportation reviewed it, and none of them thought this was going to be in violation of federal law.”

Harwell blames federal authorities for the special session, saying they’re being inflexible.

Democratic lawmakers have frequently complained about the brisk pace of the legislative session since Harwell became speaker in 2011. And the special session has seemed like the perfect example of haste leading to a waste of tax dollars.

New group to recruit, train Democratic women as candidates

News release from Emerge Tennessee
Nashville — Emerge Tennessee, a statewide organization that will recruit and train Democratic women to run for office at all levels of government in Tennessee, launched last (week) in Nashville with trailblazers from the Volunteer State as well as a newly elected state representative from Kentucky, who in May became the first African American woman to be elected to the state legislature there since 2000.

A collection of quotes from last night’s speakers:

Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan first ran for the Tennessee General Assembly in 1993 and has won all 15 times she has run for elected office since. Mayor McMillan was the first female mayor of a Tennessee city with a population greater than 100,000 and was the first, and only, woman to serve as House Majority Leader.

“What I needed was an organization just like Emerge Tennessee when I first ran for office,” she said. Continue reading

Democrats blame Harwell for DUI snafu

State House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart is blaming Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell for creating an environment that has recently put the state in jeopardy of losing $60 million in federal highway funds.

Further from The Tennessean:

“This was not an accident,” the Nashville Democrat said Wednesday. “This was the direct result of specific policies put in place by Speaker Beth Harwell.”

Stewart said Harwell, R-Nashville, is responsible for accelerating the pace of legislative sessions, placing a cap on the number of bills lawmakers can introduce and ignoring concerns about the state’s fiscal review process.

The combination of those things is what has led the state to what Stewart called a “catastrophic failure” which arose after the state approved a new DUI law.

In August, federal authorities told state officials the new law, which changed penalties for 18- to 20-year-olds found driving drunk, could result in the state losing $60 million.

Federal authorities say the state’s law is not in compliance with a federal zero tolerance law, which forces states to set 0.02 as the allowable blood-alcohol level for drivers under 21.

…A spokeswoman for Harwell did not respond to questions about Stewart’s comments, instead pointing out that the legislation in question was approved by an “overwhelming bipartisan vote.”

…Although he did not disagree with Stewart’s call for slowing the pace of the session down, (Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, chairman of the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee) took issue with the Democrats’ pointed criticism of Harwell.

“Blaming the speaker for is just playing political football,” White said.

Note: The Democrats’ press release is below. Continue reading

Only TN Democratic election commission chair ousted

The State Election Commission has voted to remove Democrat Michael Fitzgibbons from the Sevier County Election Commission after he refused to step down as chairman in compliance with a new state law mandating that only Republicans serve as county election commission chairs.

In a letter to Fitzgibbons, state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins says the commission decided “in a bipartisan 5-2 vote” to remove him from office “as a result of your violation of Tenn. Code Ann. 2-1-111 and 2016 Public Chapter 1069.”

The cited law, enacted earlier this year by the Legislature to take effect on July 1, declares that all county election commission chairmen must be members of the political party representing a majority of the commission. Under separate state law, Republicans have a majority on all county election commissions and on the State Election Commission as well.

Fitzgibbons was elected chairman of the Sevier County panel in April of 2015, becoming the only Democratic chair in the state on a 3-2 vote when a Republican member voted for him by mistake, Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, told the News Sentinel earlier. The change of law to require Republicans only be chairs came in the form of an amendment to a bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon. (Note: Previous post HERE.)

According to State Election Commission correspondence on the issue, provided on request by a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, the Sevier County Election Commission voted to reorganize Aug. 12 and chose Jack Ogle as the new chairman, but Fitzgibbons the vote out of order and continued to describe himself as chairman.

The Tennessee Democratic Party issued a press release on the matter Monday. It’s below. Continue reading

TN lottery jackpot winner donates to Democrats, picked as elector

Knoxvillian Roy Cockrum, recently designated as one of Tennessee’s 11 presidential electors by the state Democratic Party, has become a major donor to Democratic political causes since winning a Powerball lottery jackpot in 2014, a review of financial disclosure records indicates.

“He’s a big Hillary (Clinton) supporter,” said Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini in a telephone interview.

When he won the Powerball jackpot in June of 2014, Cockrum opted to collect the lump sum payout of $153.5 million rather than the $259.8 million payout that would have applied if spread out in annuitized payments.

In a news conference at the time, Cockrum, a 58-year-old bachelor, said he left his native Knoxville for college and after graduation spent 20 years as an actor and stage manager before taking a vow of poverty to serve in a religious order, the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an Episcopal religious community in Massachusetts. He left the order and returned to Knoxville in 2009 to care for his aging and ill parents.
Continue reading

Shelby County Democratic Party disbanded

The Shelby County Democratic Party was forcibly disbanded Friday, punctuating years of bitter in-fighting that have recently revolved around former chairman Bryan Carson, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini said she notified SCDP chairman Michael Pope in a letter Friday that she had chosen to “de-certify” the state’s largest county party, effectively disbanding it.

“Shelby County is very valuable to the Democratic party because there are some good and active Democrats in this county,” she said. “The decision was made because the Shelby County Democratic Party was not supporting, engaging and encouraging all those good and active Democrats.”

In the letter, she said the TNDP would work with local Democrats to “determine their own needs, evaluate the effectiveness of past bylaws and leadership, elect officers and executive committee members, and enact reforms that bring in new people and build a strong grassroots organization.”

Corey Strong, a state party executive committee member representing Memphis, said a party whose main purpose was to organize support around electing Democratic candidates had been rendered ineffective by internal issues, as displayed in past elections.

Most recently, county party members have quarrelled about how to handle allegations that former chairman Carson embezzled more than $25,000 in his tenure. At the direction of Mancini, SCDP chairman Pope approved a $6,000 settlement with Carson, even though the county executive committee had already approved a resolution to file charges against Carson, leading to shouting matches at recent committee meetings.

Strong said the party was being disbanded because it wasn’t “living up to its purpose.”

“This is not about an individual,” he said. “This is about a systemic inability to meet the party’s own charter and the minimum requirements of the state party.”

He said state executive committee members from Memphis were the ones who pushed Mancini to decertify the party because they didn’t want the party to “flounder on the local level.”

Carson and his mother, Gale Jones Carson, are both members of the state executive committee.

Strong said the party would be reorganized, possibly as early as November, under the supervision of local elected Democrats. The party’s money would be moved into a trust until the party is reconstituted. A meeting with party stakeholders is scheduled in two weeks, Mancini said.

TNDP chooses slate of 11 presidential electors

The Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee has chosen a slate of 11 members of the Electoral College who will cast their votes for Hillary Clinton should the Democratic nominee carry the state in the November election – a prospect, of course, generally deemed unlikely.

Two of the Democratic electors, Richard Eskind of Nashville and Gale Jones Carson of Memphis, are designated as statewide electors representing Tennessee’s two U.S. Senate seats. (Eskind was husband of the late Jane Eskind, the first woman to win a statewide elective office in Tennessee – the old Public Service Commission – and once the party’s nominee for a U.S. Senate seat.)

The other seats are designated as representing each of the state’s nine congressional districts. Here’s a list of the Democratic electors by congressional district, as provided by the Tennessee Democratic Party:

Nancy Fischman of Johnson City, 1st Congressional District
Roy Cockrum of Knoxville, 2nd Congressional District.
Annie Hall of Signal Mountain, 3rd Congressional District
John T. Bragg Jr. of Murfreesboro, 4th Congressional District
Andrea Conte of Nashville, 5th Congressional District. (Note: Conte is the spouse of former Gov. Phil Bredesen.)
Aubrey T. Givens of Lebanon, 6th Congressional District
Michael T. Cartwright of Franklin, 7th Congressional District
Michael McWherter of Dresden, 8th Congressional District (Note: McWherter is the son of the late former Gov. Ned McWherter)
State Rep. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis, 9th Congressional District

Democrats renew bashing of Haslam outsourcing

News release from Sen. Lee Harris and Rep. John Ray Clemmons
NASHVILLE, TN—Today, Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, joined the United Campus Workers on a telephone call with statewide press to discuss the status of Gov. Bill Haslam’s plans to outsource thousands of state jobs, including facility maintenance jobs at Tennessee’s colleges and universities.

“Sen. Harris and I didn’t come to our position on this issue in blind opposition to the governor’s plan,” state Rep. Clemmons said. “After learning about his intentions through media reports, we followed up on the public’s concerns with roundtable discussions at UT Knoxville and UT Chattanooga. These were well-attended, public discussions where people who would be directly affected were overwhelmingly opposed to Gov. Haslam’s outsourcing agenda.

“This is about jobs and families, and this governor has consistently conspired to eliminate the jobs of thousands of Tennesseans. By trying to sell anything that isn’t nailed down, Haslam has negatively impacted the lives of thousands of Tennessee families. There’s no proof that government will operate more efficiently, but there is a track record of failed attempts that have cost Tennessee taxpayers millions of dollars.” Continue reading

‘I am more than Joe Armstrong’s wife’

LeTonia Hardin Armstrong was politicking Saturday, passing out a resume of her qualifications to serve in the House District 15 seat at a Democratic women’s gathering, reports Georgiana Vines. The Knox County Democratic Executive Committee meets Thursday to choose a replacement nominee for Joe Armstrong, who was convicted of filing a false federal income tax report.

“I am more than Joe Armstrong’s wife,” she said following the luncheon at the Foundry.

…(She) distributed to some Democrats and the media a copy of an email she has written to 15 members of the Knox County Democratic Party who will make the decision. Continue reading