On the eve of the election of a new chairman for the Tennessee Democratic Party, there’s a bunch of commentary on the race among Democratic-oriented bloggers. Much of it is themed on concern about Roy Herron’s apparent lead over Dave Garrison – and Herron’s credentials as a ‘progressive’ Democrat — in the contest that will be decided Saturday. A good summary with links is HERE.
I would add a link to the Pam Strickland perspective, HERE. And maybe David Briley’s email, HERE.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester says the party is filing its own separate medical ethics complaint against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais to ensure state health officials have the physician’s own sworn testimony that he had sex with patients, reports Andy Sher. “We … are doing what we do to protect Democrats and Tennesseans,” Forrester said shortly before heading to the state Department of Health to file the complaint (on Thursday).
He said, “I want to be sure that this agency has, in Scott DesJarlais’ words, the fact that he had sex” with at least two patients and gave one of them prescription drugs.
During the Jasper lawmaker’s fall campaign, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a similar complaint against DesJarlais based on his actions a dozen years ago. That complaint was based on reports from the Times Free Press and other news outlets
News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Democrats are calling for state auditors to investigate a $10 million purchase of a property that county officials valued at $4.4 million.
In a letter to the Comptroller of the Treasury’s Division of Investigations, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said the business deal may have defrauded state taxpayers of more than $5 million dollars.
“Tennesseans deserve absolute disclosure on this suspicious land deal and a full explanation for why we paid $10 million for a property the county assessor valued at $4.4 million,” Forrester stated in the letter. “If citizens are to have faith in their government, there must be complete transparency on high-dollar transactions and accountability if abuse or fraud is found.”
According to The Tennessean, state taxpayers purchased a distressed and unusable Knoxville office building on March 9, 2012 for $10 million to expand Pellissippi State Community College. The building required more than $16 million worth of repairs and, according to the article, the county property assessor valued the building at $4.4 million at the time of the sale.
The chief financial benefactor was a Knoxville developer who has business dealings with Governor Bill Haslam and is a personal friend of the governor’s father, the article said.
“To any casual observer, it appears taxpayers overpaid — by more than $5 million — for a distressed office building and that the financial benefactor was a businessman with deep political connections to Governor Haslam, whose administration advocated for the purchase,” Forrester stated in his letter.
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Embattled Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester has decided not to seek a third term in charge of the state party, a spokesman confirmed Thursday.
The decision opens the door to new leadership for the party that has in recent years suffered deep losses in the Statehouse and the state’s congressional delegation. There has been little sign that Democrats will be able to reverse that trend in November.
Forrester was elected chairman amid a wave of discontent over the 2008 elections in which Democrats lost control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in 140 years.
But Forrester fared no better, overseeing the even more disastrous elections in 2010 that saw Democrats lose 14 seats in the state House and three in Congress, while also dropping governor’s race in a landslide.
Democrats are on the defense again this year, with Republicans aiming for supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. The only Republican congressman who faces a serious challenge is Rep. Scott DesJarlais, but only because of the emergence of a transcript of a phone conversation in which he once urged a mistress who had also been under his care as a doctor to seek an abortion.
Tennessee Democrats said Monday they sent a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam and “every elected Republican” in the General Assembly “rebuking” them for the GOP’s “continued support” of U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, reports the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. Party Chairman Chip Forrester also challenged elected Republicans “to take action” in the wake of revelations that DesJarlais, a physician, had an affair a dozen years ago with a woman who had been his patient.
…”Do you deem this acceptable behavior, fitting of a Tennessee Congressman? Or will you be the first elected Republican to stand up for the values you proclaim and denounce the hypocrisy of Rep. DesJarlais?” Forrester’s letter continued.
In a statement, the 4th District congressman’s campaign manager, Brandon Lewis, retorted, “The Tennessee Democratic Party wants to elect a pro-choice, pro-Obamacare, pro-Obama, borrow and spend liberal using a 12-year-old smear campaign to distract from the resulting unemployment, exploding deficits, and rising health care costs that have been brought about by their party’s policies.”
That is a reference to Democratic challenger Eric Stewart, of Winchester, who has attacked DesJarlais following the publication by the Huffington Post of a partial transcript from the physician’s messy 2001 divorce.
News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney distanced himself from scandal-plagued Congressman Scott DesJarlais, the Tennessee Republican Party said it would stand behind the self-described “pro-life” and “family values” Republican, who reportedly pressured one of his mistresses to have an abortion. Chairman Chip Forrester issued a statement Friday denouncing the GOP’s apathy toward DesJarlais’ habitual dishonesty and hypocrisy.
“I’m truthfully shocked Chairman Chris Devaney has not already withdrawn his party’s support for the disgraceful Scott DesJarlais and that any Republican official would refuse to condemn unethical and immoral behavior of this magnitude,” Forrester said. “Scott DesJarlais could not deny that he had an affair with a patient and, when faced with the consequences of his actions, he subsequently pressured her to have an abortion.
“The silence and inaction of Chairman Devaney and the Republican establishment is tantamount to approval of DesJarlais’ unbelievable dishonesty and astonishing hypocrisy,” Forrester said.
Republican state House candidate Lauri Day suffered collateral damage in an attack sent by her own party against a Democratic candidate in Sumner County, reports the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said in an Oct. 2 news release that Steve Glaser, a Democratic candidate for state House District 44, should drop out of the race because of unpaid taxes. Devaney wrote that Glaser’s tax liens exhibited “a pattern of just refusing to pay his fair share.”
Glaser owes nearly $88,000 to the IRS, and at least 15 liens by federal and state tax collectors have been filed between 1988 and August of this year against him, according to the release.
“What arrogance for him to think he could run for office and actually serve in the Legislature. Instead of campaigning to have Tennesseans pay his salary, he should be working a second job to pay his bills,” Devaney said in the release. “Steve Glaser should do what’s right and suspend his campaign until his taxes are paid in full.”
The Tennessee Democratic Party pointed out Monday morning that Devaney’s attack should also apply to Day.
“There’s just one problem – in his zeal to attack a Democrat, Devaney has effectively said that candidate for state House Lauri Day should resign from her race in order to get a second job,” spokesman Sean Braisted wrote in a news release.
Day, who is running against Democratic Rep. John Tidwell in District 74, has a $46,000 lien against her home for unpaid federal income taxes.
“This is just blatant hypocrisy on the part of the Tennessee Republican Party,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester in the news release. “Either Devaney needs to call on his candidate, Lauri Day, to drop out of her race and get another job, or he needs to come clean and admit that he doesn’t actually mean what he says.”
…Tennessee Republican Party Executive Director Adam Nickas said the cases were different because Glaser had not been up front with voters.
“He came out with desperate and meritless attacks against his Republican opponent while ignoring his excessive amount of unpaid taxes, which is well-documented, even while his campaign touts more government spending just like John Tidwell,” Nickas wrote in an e-mail.
“Lauri Day, on the other hand, has been up-front with the voters and, unlike the Democrats, has been running a campaign based on the important issues facing our state.”
Day said on Monday that she may have mentioned her tax issues on a radio show prior to the Republican primary. The liens first received widespread attention following a Sept. 10 article in The Leaf-Chronicle.
Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Mark Clayton, in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, calls for an investigation into whether state Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester “and other Tennessee Democratic Party bosses” violated the federal Voting Rights Act Rights Act by disavowing his win in the Aug. 2 primary.
The proposition seems to be that, since many minority voters supported Clayton in the primary, their votes were compromised by the disavowal of Clayton as the party nominee.
Clayton was joined in signing the letter by Bishop Felton M. Smith, senior pastor of New Covenant Fellowship Church of God in Christ in Nashville, who – based on Internet media reports – previously joined a group of black ministers opposing re-election of President Obama because of his support for same-sex marriage.
Clayton and Smith signed the letter at a news conference, which apparently was poorly attended based on a Google check for coverage. In an email, Clayton advises: There would have been more leaders present and more signers to the letter, but the action was taken on short notice. Democrats want voter protection from the self-appointed state party bosses. There is deep and growing support for the investigation effort which will continue indefinitely as a voting rights issue beyond any particular political campaign. We feel that Attorney General Holder will do the right thing. If not, we will push for congressional hearings in Washington.
The letter is below.
News release from Tennessee Democratic party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester demanded state election officials remove state House candidate Charles Williamson from the ballot in light of evidence showing that Williamson submitted fraudulent information on his official nominating petition.
“For the past year, the Republicans have claimed they ‘want to protect the ballot box from voter fraud.’ They now have a chance to do the right thing and demand that Williamson be removed from the ballot based on the extensive evidence showing that he put a false address on his nominating petition, apparently thinking that living in the district he seeks to represent would help him politically,” Forrester said. “Adding insult to injury, Mr. Williamson has voted in the precinct where he apparently does not live.”
The evidence that Williamson does not in fact live in the address is extensively documented:
Michael Cass, in a blog post, is one up — well, two up, actually — on the New York Times in reporting on Tennessee bundlers for the Obama campaign. Obama campaign documents obtained by The New York Times show how much money the president’s “bundlers” had raised through May, including three men from Nashville.
But the newspaper’s list is incomplete, omitting the names of two other Nashville-based fund-raisers who have raised at least $250,000 combined.
The list published by the Times says real estate mogul Bill Freeman raised $489,483 in 2011 and the first five months of 2012, while Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester raised $362,475 and state party treasurer Dave Garrison brought in $316,050.
…it doesn’t include two other Nashville bundlers who are known to have raised a good bit more than $500 apiece: attorney Charles Robert Bone and venture capitalist Andrew Byrd.
A bundler list the Obama campaign released in late January showed Bone had raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for the re-election effort, while Byrd had brought in between $50,000 and $100,000.