Tag Archives: expenditures

Niceley: Washington-based Independent Expenditures Backfired

While independent expenditures of out-of-state organizations may have achieved their goal in some state legislative races this summer, Frank Niceley says attacks by two Washington-based groups against him backfired and likely helped his state Senate campaign.
Direct mail attacks on Niceley by one group, the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), may also have run afoul of state law. And a post card from the NRA that accused him of lying, Niceley says, has transformed him from a friend of the gun owners group to an enemy.
Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said the HSLF political action committee failed to register with the state as required by the law. Dane Waters, a spokesman for the group, says attorneys advised the fund that registration with the Registry of Election Finance was not required.
The mailers attack Niceley for supporting legislation to allow slaughter of horses for food, for opposing legislation to make cockfighting a felony and for supporting “canned hunting” with legislation that would allow whitetail deer farms in Tennessee.

Continue reading

Legislators Fret About Impact of Independent Expenditures

State lawmakers in both parties are worried about the flood of independent expenditures by outside groups during Tennessee’s Aug. 2 legislative primaries, reports Andy Sher.
They see it as the first wave of a trend that could transform elections in Tennessee.
“It kind of perverts the system,” said state Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. He was caught in a crossfire in his Senate primary by PACs run by the National Rifle Association and the Humane Society of the United States.
The two groups, often at each other’s throats, attacked Niceley for different reasons. Niceley survived and won his East Tennessee GOP primary.
But several other incumbents who lost also were hit by independent expenditures, and lawmakers say the groups are having an outsized impact.
Mike Turner, the Nashville Democrat who heads his party’s House caucus, said it is “scary that the average person will not be able to influence the elections as much as they once could because they could be overwhelmed by the super PACs.”
Turner played down the impact on House Democratic incumbents in the general election but fretted the independent expenditures “have the potential to impact some of our challengers.”
Vanderbilt University political science professor John Geer said such spending is common in federal elections since a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision.
In a presidential campaign, the spending may have less impact because voters know the candidates and their positions, he said.
“As you go down the ladder, they’re going to have more and more effect,” he said. “At the state legislative level, you can imagine them having huge effects” because even incumbents are not that well known.
The effect is most strong in party primaries where there is “not a strong anchor,” Geer said.