Here’s a sample of some of the direct mail pieces sent to mail boxes in state House District 5, where Republican Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, is in a tight race with former Democratic Rep. Eddie Yokley:
Democratic party mailer on Hawk’s domestic violence charge, HERE.
Republican party mailer on ‘Illegal Immigrants Support Eddie Yokley,’ HERE.
Republican party mailer, Eddie Yokley voted to use taxpayer dollars for abortions, HERE.
Republican party mailer: Eddie Yokley has a record ‘Barack Obama would be proud of,’ HERE.
Republican party mailer comparing Yokley’s ‘Obama liberal values’ with Hawk’s ‘Tennessee conservative values,’ HERE.
David Hawk and Eddie Yokley both say they have striven for civility in their Greene County competition for the right to represent citizens of House District 5, but political party powers in Nashville are pushing the campaign in a mean-spirited direction.
As of Friday, the Tennessee Republican Party had sent seven direct mail pieces into the district that Yokley says range from “terrible distortions” to “outright lies,” accusing the Democratic candidate of everything from “Chicago cronyism” to support for illegal immigrants and taxpayer-funded abortions. Hawk disavows them all.
The Tennessee Democratic Party last week sent voters in the district a direct mail piece outlining domestic violence charges that Hawk faces, which are adamantly denied by the Republican lawmaker. Hawk says it is “unfortunate that the Democrats have resorted to personal attacks.”
Yokley disavows the mailer, saying he and his local supporters have strictly avoided mention of allegations that Hawk attacked his wife. The charges against Hawk have been bound over to the Greene County grand jury. (Note: This has been corrected from the original post, which mistakenly said Hawk has been indicted.)
Still, both men say their party’s mailers are better than the other party’s attacks.
More than a year in advance of the 2012 Tennessee general election, some corporations have begun filing the necessary paperwork to make direct contributions to state political candidates as authorized by a law enacted earlier this year by the Legislature.
Also, the Registry of Election Finance has issued a memo, posted on its website, in response to “numerous questions” about the law, which says that corporations wanting to make a donation of more than $250 must register as a political action committee and file reports on the contributions they make.
Companies donating that amount or less to individual candidates need not register, according to Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Registry.
There’s another, larger exemption from registration for corporations that only want to give money to other PACs, including those operated by legislative leaders and the Democratic and Republican parties.
The contribution limits that apply to PACs also apply to corporations in the case of donations to candidates. For state Senate candidates, for example, the limit is $10,700 per election or $21,400 for the primary and general election combined.
But, as the memo says, “The amount of contributions the corporation may make to a PAC(s) is unlimited.” In theory, then, a corporation could donate millions of dollars to the state Republican or Democratic party if it wished and the party could then spend the money making contributions to legislative candidates.
The candidate, PAC or party receiving the money would have to report taking the donations from corporations. Any such contributions since the law took effect, however, will not have to be reported until January of next year.
The handful of corporations registering so far include Daiichi Sankyo Inc., the U.S. affiliate of a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company; gasoline-producer ConocoPhillips; California-based Allergen Inc., a health care company focused on pharmaceuticals; Comcast Corp., a cable TV company; and Swisher International, a Florida-based cigar producer.
A reporter’s inquiries to some of the companies last week were generally ignored. An exception was Joe Augustus, senior vice president of Swisher, who sent this email response:
“Swisher does not have state PACs so corporate contributions are our only way to support business-minded legislators who share our companies business philosophy in TN. This is not uncommon in other states where we do business.”
Comcast already has an active PAC in Tennessee. Curtis Person III, who represents the company as a lobbyist, said he could not speak for the company on why it would want both, but would relay the request for comment to corporate officials. There was no response from them.
While the Legislature has rejected the idea of wine sales in grocery stores, it has decided to allow all Tennesseans to order wine by mail and over the Internet.
The House approved and sent to the governor today a bill that will allow wine to be shipped directly to any address in the state.
Direct shipment of wine to consumers from wineries and retailers both inside and outside of Tennessee was authorized by a bill enacted in 2009. But that law declares that shipments can be made only addresses in cities that now allow liquor-by-the-drink sales.
The bill, SB1030, repeals that provision. It passed the House 70-23 under sponsorship of Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville. It passed the Senate 21-7 on March 28 and now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam for his expected signature.
Haynes described the bill as closing a loophole that is unfair to people living outside a city that has liquor-by-the-drink sales. Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, described the provision in current law as “a glitch” and the current bill as correcting it.
The measure drew limited discussion in floor debate. In committee, some objected that the measure is an unneeded expansion of alcohol sales into “dry” counties and cities that have chosen to prohibit alcohol sales.
Proposals to allow sale of wine in grocery stores and supermarkets have repeatedly failed in the General Assembly, most recently last month when a House subcommittee killed a the latest effort.
Wine could be directly shipped to all Tennessee addresses, not just those in cities allowing liquor-by-the-drink sales, under a bill approved 21-7 by the Senate Monday.
Enactment of the bill, SB1030, is projected by the Fiscal Review Committee staff to increase wine sales statewide by about 5 percent, resulting in the state collecting $1.77 million in new taxes and local governments collecting $430,009 in new revenue.
The bill spurred no debate beyond a brief explanation by its sponsor, Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro.
The Legislature two years ago enacted a law allowing direct wine shipments from sellers, both inside and outside of Tennessee, into the state. But the shipments were restricted to cities that have approved liquor-by-the-drink sales through refendum – and about two-thirds of Tennessee municipalities have not.
Ketron said the situation “creates a lot of confusion” for wineries and wine sellers. Passage, he said, will eliminate that confusion and benefit consumers who are “more of a wine connoisseur” wishing to buy special vintages not available locally.
The bill now goes to the House.
Ketron is also sponsor of legislation that would allow the sale of wine in grocery stores, which is scheduled for a Senate committee vote on Tuesday.