A nationwide analysis of contributions to political causes indicates that the Haslams are the leading family of “elite donors” in Tennessee.
The Sunlight Foundation last week released a list of the “1 percent of 1 percent” — 31,385 people nationwide who represent just .01 percent of the nation’s population but who made 28 percent of all political contributions involving campaigns for president and congressional offices in 2012. (Link HERE)
In Tennessee, 430 individuals made the list, contributing almost $17.3 million as a group.
Eight of the “elite political donors” in Tennessee are members of the Haslam family, including patriarch James “Jim” Haslam II, who founded Pilot Corp. as a young man. He and his son James III, or “Jimmy,” made the top 10 for Tennessee.
Jimmy Haslam was No. 5 with $176,550, his father seventh with $159,450.
Wednesday was an emotional day for the Burks family as they learned the about the death of the man convicted of the murder of one of their influential family members, reports the Cookeville Herald-Citizen. Byron “Low Tax” Looper was found unresponsive in his jail cell late Wednesday morning in Wartburg in East Tennessee, where he was serving life in prison for the 1998 murder of state Senator Tommy Burks.
“We’ve got a lot of different emotions running right now,” Kim Blaylock, Tommy Burks daughter, said Wednesday afternoon a few hours after the news broke.
Blaylock found out when the TBI came by her office when they couldn’t reach her mother, state Sen. Charlotte Burks.
“They wanted to tell her before it came out in the media,” she said. “It’s been an emotional day for all of us.”
Charlotte Blaylock Looper, granddaughter, said on Facebook, “I would like to say thank you very much to everyone for the calls, messages and prayers. It is very nice to know my family and I have been blessed with so many supportive friends.”
Bill Gibson was the district attorney at the time of the murder and prosecuted Looper.
“It was the highest profile case that I ever handled as DA,” he said. “I’m just feeling a lot of mixed emotions at the news of his death. We lived that case for many months. We knew he would die in prison one day.”
Deputy District Attorney Tony Craighead was on the prosecuting team with Gibson and feels this is the closure of one of the most tragic cases in Tennessee history.
“I’m proud of the fact that I had a part in putting him in prison, although I can never take satisfaction in that because of Senator Burks’ death,” he said. “I knew Tommy. He was a wonderful man. It was a horrible tragedy. I’ve been prosecuting cases for 21 years now and I’ve done dozens of murder cases, and this was one of the most well-investigated and complete cases I’ve ever been involved in.”
Now that Looper’s dead, Craighead said maybe it will be a time to remember all the good that Burks did.
Tennessee’s child and family programs receive huge shares of their funding from the federal government, but the state still misses out on some competitive grants, reports the Tennessean. Whether short-staffed, pressed for time or unable to drum up matching state dollars, Tennessee’s government grant writers encounter many hurdles to pulling in more federal funds that could help families, according to the report by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. (Link HERE)
Still, the state spent $3.9 billion in federal dollars on kids and families last fiscal year, and more than $9 billion overall. The report did not attempt to quantify the lost opportunities.
“The departments are fairly aggressive about (grants) that meet their main mission, but because we are a fairly lean government, we don’t have additional staffing and time to branch into other areas,” said Linda O’Neal, commission executive director. “There are opportunities that they see from time to time that they think are good ideas but realize just aren’t practical.”
The commission wants to examine how best to fund programs and reduce waste, so the analysis captures spending on everything from education and health care to arts and reading programs.
“There’s always this perception that there’s this huge duplication of services in government,” O’Neal said. “Through this process, we have not been able to identify substantial duplication.”
The 18-page-report describes Tennessee as “heavily reliant” on federal funds, with more than 90 percent of child spending built on federal dollars or state matching dollars required for federal grants.
“We’re very reliant on federal funds. All states are,” O’Neal said. “We may be more reliant than some.”
News release from governor’s office:
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Major General Terry “Max” Haston of the Tennessee Military Department to pay tribute to three Tennesseans killed in action, including a soldier previously missing in action for 62 years.
Sergeant Jacob M. Schwallie of Clarksville, was fatally injured by a roadside bomb on May 7, 2012 in the Ghazi Province, Afghanistan. Schwallie graduated from Rossview High School in 2007 and enlisted in the United States Army in 2008.
Private First Class Glenn Shely Schoenmann reportedly died as a Prisoner of War (POW) on December 29, 1950. The Grundy County native was involved in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea on November 28, 1950 when he went missing. The United States Army Soldier was 20-years old when he was killed. Navy veteran Raymond Schoenmann accepted the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of his older brother.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn.– Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on Monday acknowledged a massive hit to the credibility of the family-owned Pilot Flying J truck stop chain following FBI allegations of the widespread fraud of customers at the country’s largest diesel retailer.
Haslam announced at the company’s Knoxville headquarters that he has suspended several members of the sales team after an affidavit filed in federal court disclosed secretly recorded conversations in which Pilot staff boasted about taking advantage of less-sophisticated trucking company customers.
“I, more than anybody, understand the damage that’s been done to our reputation, our brand and our relationships in the trucking community,” Haslam said. “Eight days ago I think we had the best relationships, the best trust in the trucking industry. And we now have the worst. I understand that, I accept responsibility for it.”
Privately held Pilot Flying J posted $29 billion in revenues in 2012. Haslam, who bought the Browns last year, is the brother of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who also maintains an undisclosed stake in the company founded by their father with a single gas station in 1958.
Jimmy Haslam didn’t name the people placed on administrative leave, specify how many have been suspended or whether they are still being paid. He gave a statement to reporters but refused to take questions.
Legislation declaring that student counselors can reject clients with religious beliefs differing from their own is advancing over the objections of psychology professors who say the bill is counter to the profession’s ethical code and could threaten academic accreditation.
The bill (SB514) is similar to a Michigan law enacted last year after courts upheld the dismissal of Julea Ward from an Eastern Michigan University counseling program when, based on her Christian beliefs, she refused to counsel a homosexual student.
The bill is pushed by the Family Action Council of Tennessee, a Christian activist organization headed by David Fowler, a former state senator from Signal Mountain.
The measure declares that public colleges and universities “shall not discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student, if the student refers the client to a counselor who will provide the counseling or services.”
Dr. Brent Mallinckrodt, a professor in the University of Tennessee’s psychology program, was joined by four other past or present academicians in urging defeat of the measure in testimony before the Senate Education Committee.
The Knoxville nonprofit that Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kate O’Day led for 10 years amassed numerous state rule violations before she left the agency, according to records obtained by The Tennessean.
Some of the violations that occurred while O’Day was CEO of Child and Family Tennessee were minor – personnel files missing dates that reference checks were completed — but others were far more serious.
On March 15, 2010, just nine months before becoming Gov. Bill Haslam’s pick to lead the state’s child welfare agency, O’Day was put on notice that DCS had “concerns for the safety and well-being of custodial youths placed at Child and Family Tennessee.” The nonprofit was a contractor hired by DCS to care for kids in foster care or residential treatment facilities.
DCS suspended all admissions to Child and Family, a step taken only for the most serious agency violations. In the case of Child and Family, those included inappropriately doling out group punishments for the actions of a single youth, missing medication records and a failure to focus on youths’ “needs, strengths and permanence,” among the eight serious findings outlined in a letter from DCS.
O’Day’s agency was one of three statewide that year whose admissions were frozen in 2010, but records obtained by the newspaper outline serious violations at the agency for annual inspections from 2006 to 2009. Pre-2006 inspection reports were not available.
Family Action of Tennessee, a conservative Christian organization, today declared 16 state senators and 37 state representatives — all of them Republicans — as “Champions of the Family.” That means they had a record of voting the way the organization wanted 100 percent of the time.
The most notable absence from the list, perhaps, is House Speaker Beth Harwell. A check of her voting record by FAT standards shows her with a 92 percent rating; she was absent when one of the votes in question was taken.
The group’s voting record report on all legislators is HERE. The list of ‘champions’ with 100 percent records is HERE. Here’s the news release:
David Fowler, President of Family Action of Tennessee, Inc., today announced the names of those state legislators designated by the organization as Champions of the Family. Champions of the Family are those state legislators who had a 100% voting record on various pieces of state legislation followed by Family Action during the 2011-2012 General Assembly.
“Those legislators who have received our highest designation as a Champion of the Family are those whose votes have shown that they understand the critical importance of marriage, family, life, and religious liberty to the future well-being of our state. We heartily applaud their unwavering stand on behalf of the families of Tennessee,” said Mr. Fowler.
News release from Family Action Council of Tennessee:
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Family Action Council of Tennessee, Inc. announced today the launch of its non-partisan 2012 Voter Education Headquarters.
“With voters heading to the polls tomorrow, we want to do our part to make sure that they know as much as possible about the candidates running for the state legislature,” said David Fowler, President of the Family Action Council of Tennessee. Mr. Fowler said that the website’s information is nonpartisan, including answers from every candidate, Democrat and Republican, who responded to their survey, as well as links to the candidates’ websites.
Mr. Fowler said that he believes “the Voter Education Headquarters page on our website is a great tool for anyone looking for information about those running in the state legislative primaries because of the multiple features it offers.”
With redistricting shifting voters to new legislative districts, Mr. Fowler said that one important feature is that voters will have at their fingertips the tools they need to quickly find out what district they are in.
The website also allows citizens to find the surveys of just those candidates who are running for office in their district, along with an easy to read side-by-side comparison of the candidates’ answers. “We want to eliminate the frustration I’ve experienced myself of having to read through a long list of candidates in an effort to find the ones in your district, and then having to read small, jammed together lines of answers requiring you to remember what each numbered question was about.”
Another feature Mr. Fowler noted was direct links to every state legislative candidate running in the primary that has a website or Facebook page. “We think this feature is important to help voters easily find out additional information about a particular candidate without having to spend time surfing the web. With our great team of volunteers, we’ve been able to do that surfing for them,” Mr. Fowler said.
The 2012 Tennessee Voter Education Headquarters website is available at www.FACTn.org
Following through with an intention announced earlier, Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday vetoed the so-called “Vanderbilt all-comers bill” passed by the Legislature earlier this month, according to his press secretary.
David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, had drafted the legislation, lobbied it in the General Assembly and then led a campaign to conviince the governor to change his mind and not veto the bill.
Here’s a statement issued by Fowler on the veto: Although we have not been able to obtain confirmation from the Governor’s office itself, it is our understanding that on Monday Governor Haslam vetoed Senate Bill 3597.
Obviously the outcome is not what had been hoped for by our organization, national conservative organizations, the bill sponsors, the campus ministries that will probably be disbanded, and the nearly sixty percent of the legislature that voted for the bill.
We share the Governor’s desire that government regulation of private businesses be held to the minimum, but our civil rights laws are a prime example of government regulating a private business when fundamental values are at risk. And there is no doubt that religious liberty is a fundamental American value.
In our view the bill was effectively a 13 month “temporary injunction” designed to protect these student religious organizations while the law applicable to Vanderbilt’s all-comer’s policies was being sorted out. Under the circumstances, we thought the bill was an appropriate course to take to avoid irreparable harm to organizations that will now most likely be disbanded.