The Senate Wednesday launched an effort to amend Tennessee’s constitution to allow the Legislature to select the state attorney general.
The proposal (SJR196) would repeal a provision in the current state constitution, in effect since 1870, that requires the state Supreme Court to appoint the attorney general.
Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, sponsor of the resolution, said Tennessee is the only state in the nation with such a system and it creates a conflict of interest for the attorney general to present cases to the body that hired him.
Green also argued that the attorney general is “twice removed” from being answerable to the people since justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the governor rather than elected by voters.
“In essence, we have appointees appointing,” he said.
The sponsor cited current Attorney General Bob Cooper’s refusal to file a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act – as did many elected attorneys general in other states – as an example that “clearly our present system is not working.
Green also argued that popular election of the attorney general, the system in place for 43 states, makes the position too political. In 2010, he said, 10 of the 43 elected state attorneys general were campaigning for governor while serving.
The sponsor’s arguments were sharply disputed by Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, and Doug Overbey, R-Maryville.
Overbey said no Tennessee attorney general has ever gone on to be elected governor, showing the present system results in attorneys general providing “honest and objective” legal advice “without regard to political winds.”
Kyle said a legislator-selected attorney general would be obliged to “kowtow to us.”
The resolution was approved 22-9 in the Senate. It now goes to the House. If approved there during the 108th General Assembly, it would then face approval again by the 109th General Assembly before being scheduled for a statewide referendum in 2018.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Five projects across the state have been awarded grants totaling $127,500 to fund green infrastructure and low-impact development projects.
Awards from Tennessee’s Green Development Grant Program include $25,000 to install rain gardens for three Memphis schools.
A $28,000 award will help Knoxville separate its stormwater runoff from its sewage, remove pollution from the runoff and help it infiltrate the ground.
Chattanooga’s $28,000 grant funds its Low-Impact Development Excellence Award program to recognize projects using innovative green technologies.
Athens will use its $28,000 grant to test experimental cleaning technologies on local roads, trails and parking lots.
The Southeast Tennessee Development District will receive $18,000 to help 15 municipalities and five counties develop land use regulations to improve stormwater runoff quality.
The grants require a 20 percent local match.
Republican Mark Green unseats Democratic Sen. Tim Barnes in Senate District 22, HERE.
Republican Steve Dickerson defeats Phil North in Senate District 20, HERE.
Democrat Bo Mitchell defeats Charles Williamson in House District 50, HERE
Republican Todd Gardenhire wins Senate District 10, HERE
Kent Williams, the state’s only independent legislator, wins a new term, HERE
Democratic Rep. John Tidwell wins a new term in House District 74, HERE.
Promising to turn the White House “into a greenhouse,” Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein brought a passionate message to a Nashville audience Thursday, reports Michael Cass. She urged listeners not to “waste” their votes on the major-party nominees. Stein, who was arrested on a trespassing charge Wednesday while protesting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas, said neither President Barack Obama nor Republican candidate Mitt Romney would do what’s necessary to halt climate change, repair the economy or solve other pressing national problems.
“Who are things getting better for? The CEOs, the 1 percent,” she said.
Stein, a physician who ran against Romney for the Massachusetts governor’s office in 2002, spoke to more than 50 people — including at least two other Green Party candidates — at a house party in Bellevue. She visited a Pleasant Hill church, Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville earlier in the day.
She arrived during the first election cycle when the Green Party has had a line on the ballot in Tennessee, and Green candidates are seeking congressional and state legislative seats as well as the presidency.
…While the Green Party and other third-party groups have no chance of matching Obama and Romney in Tuesday’s election, Stein said the party’s followers need to stand up for their beliefs at the polls and convert as many people as possible to give the party greater standing in future elections. She said Democrats and Republicans are “bought and paid for” by Wall Street firms, oil and gas companies, and other special interests.
The board that enforces Tennessee’s campaign finance law voted Tuesday against imposing any penalties in two cases where political action committees were accused of illegally sidestepping limits on how much money can be given to candidates for the state Legislature.
In one case, Andrew Miller Jr., a Nashville businessman, set up Truth Matters PAC in July and gave it $71,000. The PAC then contributed to 10 legislative campaigns, including eight that had already received the maximum allowable donation from Miller as an individual.
Registry of Election Finance staff had raised the possibility that the PAC had been used as an illegal “conduit,” allowing Miller to bypass the limits on campaign contributions he could give the candidates as an individual.
Miller, attorney James Weaver and Tracy Miller, Andrew’s brother and treasurer of the PAC, told the Registry board they could understand the suspicion. But they said that, looking outside the “snapshot” period of the covered by the Truth Matters’ first report, the PACs activities showed Miller had obtained pledges of contributions from others before the filing and they did, in fact, contribute to the PAC after the filing.
“If I’m guilty of anything, it’s getting in a rush,” said Miller, referring to his failure to wait until others contributed to the PAC before sending PAC donations to candidates he supported.
Registry board member Lee Anne Murray said she understood that an intent to bypass campaign limits was necessary to impose a penalty and the statements by Miller and a man who intended to contribute earlier showed their was no intent to act as a conduit. Member Henry Fincher disagreed, saying the PAC had actually acted as a conduit bypassing campaign donation limits though Miller appeared “a nice guy” who was not trying to act illegally.
Fincher said that :when the next guy, who is not so nice,” does the same thing, he will be able to argue as a precedent, “Well, Andy Miller did it. Why not I?”
The board voted 4-2 against imposing any penalties. The board’s newest member, Norma Lester of Memphis, joined Fincher in voting no on the motion to dismiss.
In the other case, Green PAC was set up by Mark Green, a candidate for state Senate from Clarksville. The PAC had three donors – Green making a $250 contribution and two other men making a total of $8,000 in donations. The PAC then donated $8,000 to Green, the only candidate to get a contribution during the PAC’s first reporting period.
Rachel Barrett, treasurer of the PAC, told the Registry that Green PAC received contributions from other people after the reporting period and also gave money to multiple candidates later. Only Fincher voted no on the motion to dismiss a complaint that had been filed by Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action.
After one term in the state legislature, state Sen. Tim Barnes knew he was going to be in a fight to come back to Capitol Hill, reports the Tennessean in the latest look at an intense state Senate campaign. “When the lieutenant governor says he wants 33 state senators and makes me a target and raises money for my opponent, believe me, I know it’s going to be a tough race,” Barnes said.
The District 22 contest between Barnes, D-Adams, and doctor and business owner Mark Green, R-Clarksville, has become negative enough to earn statewide attention.
These tactics have become more frequent in the past month, even though the major attacks haven’t been handled by the candidates. While the Tennessee Democratic Party and a nonpartisan progressive group have separately attacked Green’s record as a doctor and questioned a campaign funding issue, the state Republican caucus released a television ad criticizing Barnes’ record in the state legislature (and other stuff).
…At the same time, Republican officials outside of the Green campaign are going on the attack against Barnes. A television ad that tied the Democrat to liberal positions on federal issues, including cap-and-trade legislation and the Affordable Care Act aired on local stations and was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.
Three Knoxvillians who represent the Green Party are trying to make a point: If voters don’t like Republicans or Democrats, they are an alternative, reports Georgianna Vines. “I’d like to see a poll taken (to) ask the American voter or citizen at large, from the tea party to the Green Party: Do you think the two-party system is working well for us now?” Norris Dryer, candidate for the 2nd District congressional seat, asked rhetorically. He’s a retired WUOT program director and a violinist in the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
…Other Knoxville Greens seeking public office in the Nov. 6 election are Martin Pleasant, an engineer with Knox County, who’s running against U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Chattanooga Republican, and Calvin Cassady, a graduate student in public administration at the University of Tennessee, who’s seeking the seat held by state Rep. Joe Armstrong, a Democrat who represents the 15th District.
If Green Party candidates receive about 40,000 votes in the statewide Senate race this year, under a new Tennessee law they will be recognized and appear on future ballots. Green and Constitution Party candidates will be listed in November as a result of a federal lawsuit resolved this year.
Pleasant is working the hardest of the three local Greens. He’s talked and passed out cards to those walking to UT football games. Dryer, who is not seeking money in his race, said if anyone offers him any, “I suggest they give it to Marty Pleasant.”
Pleasant has some Democrats supporting him, he said. They have rejected the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat, Mark Clayton, after it was reported following the August primary that he is affiliated with an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a “hate group.” The Tennessee Democratic Party has disavowed Clayton.
“I’ve got interest and support from people who might not look otherwise. People really want to vote their values,” Pleasant said.
A nonpartisan watchdog group has filed a complaint against Republican state Senate candidate Mark Green, claiming he used a political action committee to bypass limits on campaign contributions, reports the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. Tennessee Citizen Action filed the complaint with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.
The group alleges Green used “Green PAC” as “an illegal conduit” for donations from an employee and a business associate so they could exceed the maximum allowable contributions.
Tennessee Citizen Action is a consumer rights and public information organization that enlists volunteers to look through campaign finance reports for signs of inappropriate activity.
“In this climate of unlimited campaign money being allowed to be funneled into a campaign, we look out for the people whose only voice is their vote,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of the group, in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
Green PAC’s treasurer is Rachel Barrett, a partner at Barrett Johns Strategies, a firm that has been employed by the Green campaign, the complaint says.
…Green PAC has had only three donors: Green ($250); one of his employees, Win Winegar ($3,000); and Rich Street, owner of a medical billing company ($5,000).
On the same day Street made his donation, the bulk of the Green PAC money ($8,000) was deposited into the Mark Green for Senate Campaign, the complaint says.
Winegar, Leigh Winegar, Street and Leesa Street had each previously donated the maximum of $1,400 to the campaign.
The PAC was created just a few days before its biggest contribution, and there has been no activity since, the complaint says. Note: A Republican news release on the complaint and Mancini’s response to the release are below.
From the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: The 178,768 people of Montgomery, Stewart and Houston counties will decide one of Tennessee’s most competitive races this November when they choose between incumbent state Sen. Tim Barnes and Dr. Mark Green for Senate District 22.
Barnes was elected to the Tennessee Senate in 2008 after he beat write-in candidate Rosalind Kurita. A legal battle fought by the Democratic Party made him the party’s nominee instead of Kurita, the incumbent.
Barnes has been practicing law for 27 years and maintains a legal practice in downtown Clarksville.
Green is president and CEO of Align MD, a hospital staffing company, and previously worked as an emergency room physician and as a flight surgeon for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Green served two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. Both candidates sat down with The Leaf-Chronicle recently to lay out their positions on major issues facing the state Senate.
Full story HERE.
The gloves are off in the race for Tennessee Senate District 22, according to the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. In a direct mailer sent this week, Sen. Tim Barnes attacked Dr. Mark Green and his record with Gateway Medical Center.
The glossy, paid for by the Tennessee Democratic Party, claims that under Green’s management Gateway was the lowest-ranked hospital in the state and that Green was caught directing doctors to “cherry-pick” healthier patients to boost hospital profits.
But the claims in the mailer are based on out-of-date data and are not fair to the hospital, according to members of the hospital staff.
“He truly painted a picture that was incongruent with the current facts about Gateway Medical Center,” said William McGee, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Gateway.
The mailer cites data from a Consumer Reports article that claims Gateway was the lowest-rated hospital in the state and had a death rate higher than the national average.
But Gateway CEO Tim Puthoff said in a statement that the Consumer Reports article used old data that included only 37 of the 120 hospitals in Tennessee and Gateway’s mortality for August 2011 to July 2012 was in line with the national average.
In the statement Puthoff said he met with Barnes Friday and Barnes agreed not to mention Gateway in any further campaign communications.