By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Sen. Jim Tracy has raised more than four times as much as the embattled congressional incumbent he is challenging in the Republican primary next year.
According to campaign disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, Tracy raised more than $436,485 in the first quarter, compared with U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ net of $104,532.
DesJarlais, a Jasper physician, won a second term in November despite revelations that he once urged a patient with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion.
Transcripts released after the election revealed that DesJarlais made a mutual decision with his first wife to have two abortions.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Andrew Tillman as chancellor of the Eighth Judicial District Chancery Court effective immediately.
Tillman replaces late Chancellor Billy Joe White who passed away in November 2012 after serving on the bench for 35 years. The Eighth Judicial District includes Campbell, Claiborne, Fentress, Scott and Union counties.
“The Eight District is gaining an experienced legal mind with Chancellor Tillman,” Haslam said. “His career has been spent in both the public and private sectors, and I appreciate his willingness to serve.”
Since 2009, Tillman has worked as the senior law clerk for Judge Charles Susano, Jr. of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, preparing opinions for cases from all counties in the eastern section and all courts of record, including chancery court. He worked at the Knoxville firm, Paine, Tarwater, Bickers and Tillman from 1991 through 2009 and worked almost exclusively in litigation, providing advice, counseling and advocacy on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in a broad range of cases.
“I want to thank Gov. Haslam for this unique opportunity, and I look forward to serving as chancellor of the Eighth Judicial District,” Tillman said.
Tillman is a 1974 graduate of Northeastern Oklahoma State with a bachelor’s in mathematics. He earned his J.D. at the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1989 with numerous accolades. He has taught at the UT College of Law as an adjunct professor and lectured as a presenter of CLE programs.
Tillman, 61, also has practical skills as a mechanic, welder, carpenter, millwright and heavy equipment operator. He attends White Rock Baptist Church in Huntsville. He and his wife, Claudia have two children, Andi Marie and Tony.
Senate Judiciary Committee members on Thursday directed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to let them view files of the agency’s probe into allegations involving 10th District Attorney Steve Bebb of Cleveland, reports Andy Sher. Seven members, including Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, voted in favor of the resolution. Two members, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney, of Jackson, abstained.
A similar effort in the House stalled at least temporarily after Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, blocked approval of nine bills and resolutions on various matters, only one of which involved Bebb, by the three-member Delayed Bills Committee. Approval requires all three members.
House GOP leaders say they intend to put that back on track today.
Reached by telephone Tuesday night, Bebb said, “I really don’t want to make any comment right now.”
The effort to obtain the TBI’s investigation of Bebb comes after Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper on March 25 released his long-awaited report on Bebb and alleged misconduct in the 10th Judicial District, which includes Bradley, Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties.
Relying on the TBI investigation, Cooper criticized Bebb’s office for poor judgment, mismanagement and deficient record keeping. But Cooper said he found no prosecutable evidence against Bebb on allegations of prosecutorial and financial misconduct, speaking untruthfully under oath and other offenses.
Bell and Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, had called on Cooper to investigate following questions raised about Bebb last year in a Times Free Press series.
“This is not an issue I take up lightly,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, told colleagues late Tuesday afternoon. “It is not an issue that is meant to reveal information that is confidential. But it is a serious issue and it’s important for the Judiciary Committee to exercise its oversight ability.”
News release from Rep. Joe Carr exploratory campaign:
(Lascassas, TN) – Local businessman and state representative Joe Carr announced today his Exploratory Committee for Congress raised over $200,000 in his effort to become Tennessee’s next congressman from the 4th district. The Rutherford County native remarked how humbled he was for the outpouring of support.
“This certainly sends a great signal that Tennesseans are interested in a Joe Carr for Congress candidacy,” Carr said. “I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of friends and neighbors who believe in me, and I don’t take their trust in me lightly.”
In just six weeks the Joe Carr for Congress Exploratory Committee led by prominent Republican businessman and fundraiser Lee Beaman, raised a total of $205,479. “These strong numbers prove that people are devoted to Joe Carr, just as Joe Carr is committed to the conservative movement,” said Beaman.
“I have a good idea what it takes to get your message out to the people; hard work, smart planning and enough gas in the tank to make a campaign of this magnitude successful,” Carr remarked. “We’re a step closer to making a final decision on whether to jump in, but I can tell you one thing, all indications point to that direction.”
Carr, a 1981 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with 60 hours of graduate work is a consultant assisting industrial companies in the reduction of their electrical energy costs. In addition he and his wife Ginny own Cedar Snag Farms in Lascassas.
Carr was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly in 2008 and currently serves as Chairman of the Government Sub Committee. He is a member of the National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee Right to Life, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raider Athletic Association, and Greenhouse Ministries. Carr is also an accomplished private pilot and member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association.
Carr has been married for 30 years to his wife Ginny, and they have three children, Erin, Maddie, and Joe, Jr. In addition he is a proud grandfather. Joe has lived in Rutherford County since he was a young boy and his family roots go back five generations in Rutherford County. Joe, Ginny and Joe Jr. are members of Believers Chapel in Murfreesboro.
The state attorney general has found no prosecutable criminal acts by 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Bebb, reports the Chattanooga TFP. A report by Attorney General Robert Cooper criticizes Bebb’s office for poor judgment, mismanagement and deficient record keeping but finds no prosecutable evidence against him on allegations of official misconduct, theft, bribery, extortion and other offenses.
Prosecutable evidence against employees in Bebb’s office or current or former officers of the district’s drug task force would be handled by someone other than the attorney general’s office, Cooper’s report states.
The Times Free Press obtained a copy of the report late Monday afternoon.
Contacted by phone Monday evening, Bebb said he had not yet read it and would reserve comment for now.
State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, and Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who called for the attorney general to investigate allegations raised in a Times Free Press series last year, also said Monday they haven’t read the report and declined to comment immediately.
The newspaper investigated allegations that under Bebb, the prosecutor’s office botched important cases through ineptness or misconduct, misused taxpayer money and played favorites in criminal prosecutions in the 10th Judicial District of Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk counties. The Aug. 12-17, 2012, series of stories drew calls from state lawmakers and others for an investigation.
On Aug. 28, Cooper called for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the state comptroller’s office to begin a joint probe.
In the middle of the debate over the hotly contested guns-in-trunks legislation, Rep. Joe Carr was heading to a Franklin fundraiser to boost his congressional campaign, reports The City Paper. Shortly before the final vote on the bill, Carr was excused for the day and left for a gathering at a country club of what he calls “close personal friends” supporting his bid for Congress.
“I made a calculated decision based on the votes that were necessary for passage,” Carr told The City Paper about his decision to leave before casting his vote on the controversial bill. “I don’t think it was an unreasonable choice that I made. Not unreasonable at all.”
He missed more than half the votes — including the final vote — on the guns-in-trunks bill that makes it legal for handgun carry permit holders to store their gun in their locked car in parking lots, including those of their employer.
…”I did not cast a vote on the final bill because I was not present, because I had left the chamber as a result of this prior commitment,” he said, adding he was confident the legislation would pass without him. “I think I made the right decision.”
Carr would not confirm the event for him on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Old Natchez Country Club in Franklin that morning was a fundraiser or how much money he raised. He said the gathering was “organized by some people who are asking me to take part in a 4th Congressional race.”
Meanwhile, from the Daily News Journal:
State Rep. Joe Carr has filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission to run for Congress in the 4th District, but he is still hedging on official candidacy. Carr, a Lascassas Republican, filed a Joe Carr for Congress statement Feb. 19, listing Troy Brewer of Nashville as campaign controller and Murfreesboro dentist Nate Schott as treasurer.
In December, Carr formed an exploratory committee and began raising funds. The committee raised more than $5,000 toward a race, Carr said Friday, and he was required to file with the FEC.
“This means we are taking a serious look at it because the exploratory phase headed by Lee Beaman has gone better than expected,” Carr said, adding he expects to make an announcement in April.
News release from state comptroller’s office:
Around Easter, some employees at the Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities received Easter eggs with notes inside, informing them that they would be receiving special bonuses. Bonuses were also routinely doled out around other holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July – or, for some of the more favored employees – almost weekly.
The problem? The utility’s former superintendent didn’t have board approval to distribute nearly $300,000 in ratepayer money for bonuses from 2008 through 2011. And that was just one of many issues investigators from the Comptroller’s office found during a recent review of the utility’s practices.
Employees sometimes received bonuses for doing routine parts of their jobs, such as reporting water theft or scouting possible water intake sites along the river. Some employees received overtime pay even when they didn’t work extra hours. Employees also received bonuses through random drawings and marble handouts. One employee received a bonus for “adultery watch,” which apparently involved monitoring another employee during work hours.
Findings of the investigation, which were released today, document that the former superintendent also gave more than $13,000 in water adjustments – essentially, discounts on water bills and new water taps – to utility board members, employees and some customers. Nearly $4,000 of those adjustments were granted to volunteer firefighters who attended annual dinners held to foster good will between the utility and local fire departments. The rest of the adjustments were given at the former superintendent’s discretion.
The investigation also revealed that board members were overpaid more than $12,000 for attending board meetings, work sessions and “road trips.” And the former superintendent and former office manager made more than $10,000 worth of questionable credit card charges to the district, including more than $5,000 for meals for employees who were not traveling or conducting official business.
“Ratepayer money is public money, just as taxpayer money is,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “It is inexcusable for public officials to distribute or spend public money for unauthorized bonuses, water bill discounts or travel and purchases that do not serve work-related purposes. I hope the Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities will take appropriate steps to ensure that these types of abuses don’t occur in the future.”
To view the Comptroller’s report online, go to: http://comptroller.tn.gov/la/SpecialReports.asp
To view scanned images and photographs related to the investigation, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/CA/2012/lcbpupictures.pdf
Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy’s first major fundraiser for his 4th Congressional District bid is set for March 14 in Murfreesboro, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
Former Gov. Winfield Dunn; Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, R-Hixson; and Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, are among the honorary hosts. The per-person price of a ticket is $250 while tickets for members of the sponsor committee are $2,500 per person or couple and $1,000 for host committee members.
Dr. Warren McPherson and his wife, Beverly, are holding the event in their home.
Tracy, of Shelbyville, is running against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., a physician whose past personal controversies have made him vulnerable to challenge, Republicans say. State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lacassas, also is weighing a bid, but Tracy has been the first challenger to announce officially
The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, which represents the state’s 31 DAs, has issued the organization’s 2013 legislative agenda, reports the Commercial Appeal. Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich is quoted. “In 2013, we’re focused on continuing our push to protect our kids, strengthen sentencing guidelines and fight drugs,” Weirich said. “If the legislature approves these proposed changes, I’m confident we will be able to accomplish these goals and more.”
The district attorneys are asking lawmakers to require people convicted of aggravated child neglect to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences before they are eligible for parole — the same as for aggravated child-abuse cases — rather than the current 30 percent minimum.
“Right now, there are individuals who are convicted of extremely serious child neglect — cases in which children suffer as much as those who are victims of physical abuse — who end up serving very short sentences. We need to change that to send a message that the state takes all offenses against children seriously, even if they fall short of the legal definition of abuse,” said Guy Jones, deputy director of the conference and its chief lobbyist.
DAs also want changes in state law that would allow them to prosecute a serial child-sexual abuser with a single trial even if the abuses occurred in multiple judicial districts. Currently, a defendant charged with multiple counts of child-sexual abuse involving different victims in different Tennessee jurisdictions must be tried separately in each of those jurisdictions.
– Note: See also the Kingsport Times-News, quoting Sullivan County DA Barry Staubus.
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (AP) — The Sevier County Election Commission has voted to ask the district attorney’s office to investigate people who improperly cast ballots in a problematic liquor-by-the-drink referendum.
Commissioners made the decision Thursday after earlier attributing voting mistakes to poll worker confusion. The referendum came on the same day as the general election, which produced the largest turnout ever in the county. Nearly 300 people who did not live in Pigeon Forge were allowed to vote on the liquor issue.
A judge tossed the election results, and the commission has scheduled a revote for March 14.
The Mountain Press (http://bit.ly/WmQMKN ) reported Election Commission member Darrell Whitchurch made the motion to send the names to prosecutor Jimmy Dunn. He said if anyone is attempting fraud from either side, they should be prosecuted.