Five years after University of Tennessee student David Kernell made national headlines when he was charged with perusing through the personal email account of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, then a 2008 vice presidential nominee on the Republican ticket, in search of politically damage material he never found, Kernell is a free man — truly free.
So reports the News Sentinel. More: Although Kernell wrapped up a year in federal prison in November 2011, he remained under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office through November 2014. But earlier this month, in one of his last acts before retiring in August, U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips freed Kernell from that final requirement.
Phillips’ ruling came after Kernell’s defense attorney, Wade Davies, filed a motion in which he stated Kernell had paid an adequate price for what Davies’ has long termed a youthful prank, has now completed his degree at UT and qualifies for the extraordinary move to release him from supervision.
The U.S. attorney’s office did not resist the move.
And Phillips did not tarry long in making his decision.
Although Phillips is a Republican appointee and Kernell is the son of a longtime Democrat (state representative from Memphis), Phillips did not want Kernell to go to prison in the first place. When a federal jury rejected all but one felony charge filed against Kernell in the case, Phillips ordered Kernell to spend a year and a day in a Knoxville halfway house. But the U.S. Bureau of Prisons refused and instead sent Kernell, by then 22, to prison. Judges can recommend at which facility a defendant should go, the bureau makes the final call.
Although the case has been dubbed the “Palin hacker case” in the media, this was no sophisticated computer hack, testimony showed.
After reading reports that Palin may have used her personal account for official business in her role as Alaska governor, Kernell, the son of longtime Memphis Democratic state lawmaker Mike Kernell, decided to go surfing the Web in search of the answer to her password security question.
After successfully guessing the password, he changed it and posted it online along with screenshots of some Palin family photographs and a few email messages.
He declared on the 4 Chan discussion board that he had found nothing politically damaging in the account.
News release from Congressman Jim Cooper:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) announced three new additions to his Washington office.
Chris Carroll, a Tennessee native and most recently the Washington correspondent for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, will join as Cooper’s new press secretary on August 5. At the Times Free Press, Carroll reopened the Capital Hill bureau and won several awards for his reporting. He is a graduate of East Tennessee State University’s Honors Program.
Carroll replaces Katie Hill, who has taken a job as communications director for former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Cooper also announced the addition of a new staff assistant, Vic Goetz, a Nashville native and former intern, who graduated from Bucknell earlier this year. Goetz replaces another Nashville native, Kathleen Ambrose, who joined the staff of Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7) this spring.
Cooper is also pleased to welcome a new health care legislative fellow, Paul Shorkey. Shorkey is a Rhodes Scholar and current candidate for M.Sci. in Global Health Science at the University of Oxford with a focus on U.S. health policy and health systems. He also holds a M.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Oxford and is a Morehead-Cain graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Shorkey will work with Cooper on health care issues until the end of the year.
Shorkey succeeds Ruth McDonald, Cooper’s health care legislative aide, who will begin graduate school this fall.
Victor Ashe’s departure from a federal board that oversees the government’s foreign broadcasting agency is causing almost as much conflict as his tenure on the panel, reports Michael Collins. President Barack Obama is looking to replace Ashe on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent federal agency that watches over government-supported broadcasters such as Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe.
But Ashe’s removal has brought howls of protest from conservatives and some broadcasting groups, who note that he is the only Republican on the board, even though by law the panel is supposed to be evenly split among Democrats and Republicans. Obama has nominated another Republican, former Ambassador Ryan Crocker, as Ashe’s successor. But Ashe’s backers argue he should be allowed to stay on as well given the dearth of GOP representation on the panel.
What’s more, some of Ashe’s defenders suspect he is being replaced because his attempts to ferret out waste and mismanagement have rankled the broadcasting agency’s top executives.
“He has upset a lot of people who were used to having the board rubber stamp what they want to do,” said Timothy Shamble, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1812, the union that represents broadcasters and journalists at Voice of America.
Shamble and others have written letters to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asking him to help keep Ashe on the board.
Ashe, a former Knoxville mayor who also served as U.S. ambassador to Poland, said he is not seeking another term on the board. Obama appointed him to the panel in late 2009 to fill an unexpired term. Ashe’s term ended in August 2010, but by law he is allowed to continue serving until his successor is nominated and confirmed.
“I will continue serving until replaced and work on those issues which I have previously worked on,” Ashe said via email, citing openness in government, less waste, fairness to employees and outreach to people living under repressive regimes that censor objective news.
Ashe said Crocker is “an excellent nominee” to serve on the board. But he, too, believes it’s important to have four Democrats and four Republicans on the nine-member panel. (By law, the ninth board member is the sitting secretary of state.) A bipartisan split on the board “helps to assure an objective, honest approach to news reporting,” Ashe said.
Right now, five of the nine board seats are vacant.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press will start charging to read the newspaper online next week for those who don’t subscribe to the print edition. From the newspaper: The system will be a metered paywall, where readers will be allowed a number of free articles per month before having to pay. Breaking news stories, under the website’s “latest news” section, will remain free. Video and Associated Press stories also will be available on the Times Free Press website free of charge.
Jason Taylor, president of the Times Free Press, said metered access will help the newspaper cover the costs of maintaining the region’s biggest newsgathering team. The other major daily newspapers in Tennessee either already have moved or are moving this year to charge for their online content.
“We’re the market leader for information, but the content we produce is very expensive and we want to price that in a way that makes sense and reflects the value of what we offer,” Taylor said. “As much as we’ve been able to grow our print and online circulation, we also need to show solidarity with the industry as it moves toward charging for online content.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — As Tennessee lawmakers consider a proposal to crack down on ticket scalping, a Nashville lawyer who opposes the bill alleges that a manager of The Black Keys tried to persuade him to change his position in exchange for tickets to a performance by the band.
Attorney John Ray Clemmons said in a letter that he was disturbed by the repeated efforts by Fielding Logan, who also manages country star Eric Church, to give him tickets.
“I took time out of my schedule to come share my concerns with your committee about legislation as a member of the general public, not to be harassed by a supercilious entertainment manager,” Clemmons wrote in the letter to Senate Commerce Chairman Jack Johnson, R-Franklin. The letter was first reported by WTVF-TV.
Logan acknowledged in his own follow-up letter to Johnson that he offered the tickets to Clemmons. But he said the gesture was only meant to demonstrate how easily paperless tickets can be transferred to charities.
“I never asked — not verbally and not in writing — that (Clemmons) refrain from giving testimony in front of the Senate Commerce Committee that day,” Logan wrote. “In fact, I only said that I believed the premise of his testimony to be incorrect.”
Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey forwarded Clemmons’ letter to Nashville District Attorney Torry Johnson.
Spokeswoman Susan Niland said the prosecutor’s office had not yet received the letter and couldn’t speculate on whether any laws might have been broken.
Logan didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Opponents of the bill backed by Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Worldwide Inc. argue it would affect the legitimate transfer of tickets by individuals and organizations. Supporters say it targets online hoarding, price gouging and forgeries
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Members of a new coalition say they plan to assist with a statewide campaign to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion scheduled to be on the ballot next year.
That amendment would allow the state to enact laws requiring a 48-hour waiting period for abortions and requiring all but first-term abortions to be performed in hospitals.
Members of Healthy and Free Tennessee spoke to reporters at a news conference on Monday. They didn’t specify their strategy in the campaign.
However, they did say regardless of what happens with the amendment, the coalition plans to “promote sexual health and reproductive freedom” throughout the state.
Earlier this month, Republican sponsors of a measure that would have required abortion providers to perform an ultrasound and show or describe it to a woman seeking an abortion decided to withdraw the legislation and support the constitutional amendment.
In the third break with tradition for major Tennessee newspapers this election season, the Free Press side of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press is not endorsing the Republican nominee for president. Instead, the newspaper is editorially endorsing Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee who is on Tennessee’s ballot as an independent.
The News-Free Press maintained separate editorial boards after the Chattanooga Times and the Chattanooga News-Free Press combined a few years ago. The Free Press is traditionally conservative, the Times more liberal.
Earlier, the Tennessean, which traditionally has always endorsed Democrats for president, endorsed Romney in 2012. And the News Sentinel, which has varied its partisan preference for president over the years, decided not to endorse anyone this year.
Excerpt from the Free Press editorial: This election, however, the Republican Party nominee has failed to demonstrate a consistent commitment to conservative principles. As a result of his failure to provide clear methods for reducing the size and scope of the federal government, unwillingness to address structural flaws with entitlement programs, reliance on government to intervene in issues best left to families and individuals, and sporadic support of the Constitution and America’s founding principles, Mitt Romney is too flawed to earn the Free Press’ endorsement.
Romney may be less eager to tax, spend, attack personal freedoms and disregard the constitutional limits on government than his Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama, but only slightly.
To the extent that Romney offers an alternative to Obama, the difference is in degree, not in kind.
As a result, the Free Press editorial page endorses Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson for President of the United States.
Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, has more administrative experience than Romney, who served just a single term as Massachusetts governor.
While serving as governor, Johnson slashed New Mexico’s gas tax, fought to reduce the state’s income tax and championed school choice. Romney, on the other hand, implemented a myriad of new fees on Massachusetts taxpayers and famously enacted a compulsory health insurance scheme which became the framework for Obamacare.
Unlike Obama, Johnson understands that government spending, unsustainable bailouts and stimulus schemes only lead to more unemployment, a higher national debt, a weakened dollar and a less stable economy.
Johnson’s platform includes presenting a balanced budget to Congress every year he’s in office, completely overhauling America’s ridiculous federal tax structure, and fundamentally restructuring entitlement programs to allow Americans more choice in health care and a greater opportunity to retire with dignity.
The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday rejected a bill by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, that would have prohibited delivery of free newspapers to people who don’t want them.
Only two senators voted for the bill (SB2670) while seven voted against it.
Campfield told the committee that throwaway newspapers create unnecessary litter and are “a crime hazard” because an accumulation of papers in a yard can tip off burglars that homeowner is away on vacation.
Frank Gibson, public policy director of the Tennessee Press Association, told the committee there are questions about the constitutionality of the bill, though Campfield contended changes made from the original version make the measure valid.
Gibson also said the measure would put a “new burden on newspapers” as they would go to “extra lengths to avoid even an inadvertent violation.” The measure would basically double the cost of newspaper distribution, Gibson said, and could mean the end of some free publications.
Some committee members also questioned Campfield’s proposal, including Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, who said free newspapers are a major source of information in her district. She mentioned the Mount Juliet News in her hometown.
“Is that the one you in an investor in?” asked Campfield.
“I’m not an investor in any newspaper,” replied Beavers.
Beavers has filed a lawsuit, recently receiving media attention, in which she seeks repayment of $50,000 that the senator characterizes as a loan to the publisher of the Macon County Chronicle. The publisher, in responding to the lawsuit, has characterized the $50,000 as an investment in the newspaper and, as such, not subject to the repayment demand since the money was at risk.
Campfield said later that his question to Beavers, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, was inappropriate and that he had apologized to her.
An “open letter” emailed by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office:
As you may be aware, a group known as Occupy Nashville has essentially taken up residence on War Memorial Plaza across the street from the Capitol. While describing themselves as protesters, they are actually something quite different.
Average protesters, usually on some defined day centered around a specific issue, march or congregate en mass to demand redress of a specific grievance. Normal protests can get loud and they can get rowdy. Frequently, they can last long into the night. On rare occasions, they can last a few days.
Occupy Nashville is quite a different animal. This protest is not really a protest at all. It is, as the name implies, an occupation. I value our constitutional rights — the freedom of speech most of all. Without the freedom to directly confront our leaders, our constitution isn’t worth the parchment on which it’s printed.
Whether from the left or the right, I appreciate people engaging their government.
However, to continue to ignore the reality of Occupy Nashville would be to shirk my duties as a public servant. I have to tell the truth and the truth is this: your War Memorial Plaza – a place dedicated to Tennesseans who paid the ultimate price in service to their nation and fellow citizens – is no longer a place for visitors. It is unsightly, it is unclean and, depending on the time of day, it is downright dangerous.
While the initial “Occupiers” may have started out with good intentions, their movement has been infiltrated and co-opted by the homeless in Nashville. Unsurprisingly, amongst the homeless population there is a distinct criminal element. In Occupy Nashville, this criminal element has found safe haven and justification for their lifestyle.
While the crimes committed in and around the Plaza run the gamut, several of the incident reports I have reviewed have alarmed me. From public sexual behavior to narcotics trafficking to assault, the criminal element surrounding Occupy Nashville has made a visit to our State Capitol more than unpleasant.
For example, a legislative employee standing in a bottom floor courtyard was recently urinated on by someone connected to the occupation.
This is disgraceful.
The Occupiers are not merely a nuisance with a blatant disregard for societal norms — they have become dangerous. I have reviewed paperwork from both Metro Police and the Tennessee Highway Patrol and seen reports that include threats of bodily harm by people with knives and other weapons.
One report I read particularly disturbed me because it affected young students here to learn about their Capitol: a homeless member of Occupy Nashville exposed himself in full view of students on a field trip.
A cursory glance at media coverage paints a very unsavory picture: a public brawl occurred on the Plaza on Christmas Day followed by a brazen act of arson in time for the New Year.
In essence, open acts of sex, drug use and violence you wouldn’t expect in an “R” rated movie are at times on full display on your War Memorial Plaza.
It saddens me because every year students from Tennessee schools visit our state capitol to learn about their government and see a very moving War Memorial dedicated to Tennesseans who died for their countrymen over the last 100 years. This year my advice to teachers looking to bring students here would be simple: stay home. I cannot in good conscience recommend the Capitol as a class trip destination at this time. I’m embarrassed to say it but it is the truth.
I hope and pray this situation will be resolved sooner rather then later and I can once again wholeheartedly recommend that visitors and students come to Nashville to learn how our government works.
Again, I support our constitution and embrace with open arms our rights of free speech and assembly. Liberal judges here in Nashville and on the federal bench can try and twist the law however they want but the reality is clear: this occupation has gone beyond speech and assembly and become an embarrassment — both to causes Occupy purports to support and the state of Tennessee at large.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Lee S. Anderson, who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press for 70 years, has announced his retirement.
Anderson is associate publisher and editor of the newspaper’s opinion page. He will retire on April 18, according to the newspaper (http://bit.ly/yGoH0Y ).
Anderson is 86 years old and said of his career that he wouldn’t change a thing. He said he was 16 when the paper hired him. When the surprised youth asked when they wanted him to start, the answer was “immediately.”
Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher and chairman of the Times Free Press, said Anderson has been inspirational because of his dedication, loyalty, work ethic and passion for newspapers.
Jason Taylor, president and general manager of the Times Free Press, called Anderson’s career “nothing short of legendary.”