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Ingram Getting $5,000 Per Month From Haslam Campaign

Veteran lobbyist and political consultant Tom Ingram is being paid $5,000 per month by Gov. Bill Haslam’s re-election campaign, a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.
David Smith said the monthly payments began on July 1. Before that, Haslam had been paying Ingram with personal funds and had refused to disclose the amount of his personal payments.
Asked if the $5,000 monthly campaign payments are the same as the undisclosed personal payments that proceeded, Smith declined to comment.
The campaign payments would eventually have become public, but disclosure would not be required until Jan. 31, 2014, the next date for filing a campaign disclosure in a non-election year.
The $5,000 payments will be at a considerably lower level than payments to Ingram and the Ingram Group, a consulting and lobbying firm he founded, during the intense 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Total payments to Ingram and the Ingram Group by the 2010 Haslam campaign totaled more than $600,000, according to a review of Registry of Election Finance records, starting with a $20,000 payment to Ingram on June 2, 2009, and ending with a payment of $20,834 to the Ingram Group on Jan. 27, 2011.
Smith said the payments by the 2014 campaign will be made to the Ingram Group.

On a sorta related note, see Gail Kerr’s column, which heaps praise upon Ingram while giving him a bit of a lecture, too, for failure to register as a lobbyist. An excerpt:
Ingram’s a pro. These are dumb, little mistakes he shouldn’t have made. Whether he’s playing small ball with the council or long ball with the big boys, he needs to play by the rules.
Tom Ingram knows better

Another Late Lobbyist Registration for Tom Ingram

Tom Ingram and another executive with his influential lobbying firm worked with Mayor Karl Dean’s office more than a month ago to put together an incentive package for the television show “Nashville” but didn’t register with the city as lobbyists at the time, according to The Tennessean..
On June 24, Dean announced $500,000 in incentives, pending Metro Council approval, to keep the ABC drama filming here.
Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said officials in the mayor’s office communicated with Ingram and fellow Ingram Group executive Sam Reed when negotiating the incentive deal. Ingram Group has long been the lobbyist for Gaylord Entertainment, now Ryman Hospitality Partners, which is one of the show’s executive producers.
The Metro code defines lobbying as communicating “directly or indirectly, with any official in the legislative branch or executive branch for pay or for any consideration, for the purpose of influencing any legislative action or administrative action.”
Last week, Reed and another Ingram Group lobbyist, Marcille Durham, registered with the city as representing Ryman. Ingram has not registered.
But government transparency expert Dick Williams, chairman of the nonprofit group Common Cause Tennessee, said Ingram and Reed should have registered with the city when it was negotiating, based on lobbying disclosure requirements

Ingram Group Registered to Lobby for Lobbyist Firm on ‘Jock Tax’

Tom Ingram and two of his associates lobbied state lawmakers this year to eliminate Tennessee’s privilege tax on professional athletes, according to The Tennessean, but you wouldn’t know it from what they disclosed about their efforts publicly.
The lobbyist registration forms that Tom Ingram and his colleagues at The Ingram Group filed with the state only mentioned another lobbying firm, giving the public no indication of the special interests they were really representing in an unsuccessful bid to kill the so-called “jock tax.”
The Ingram Group’s Marcille Durham and Sam Reed registered as lobbyists for McGuiness Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying shop, on Feb. 25, with Tom Ingram joining them on April 17, state records show. McGuiness Group’s website says its clients include the players associations for the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association.
Dick Williams, chairman of good-government group Common Cause Tennessee and a lobbyist himself, said Ingram, Durham and Reed appear to have complied with the law. But the law, which requires only that lobbyists list their employers and that employers say who’s lobbying for them, leaves something to be desired.
“Ideally, it would be nice to have a little more clarity for the public,” Williams said. “It does leave a little vagueness.”
…Durham said the Ingram Group lobbyists’ listing of McGuiness Group as their employer was not only legal but accurate. She said McGuiness Group, run by former U.S. Senate aide Kevin McGuiness, is the “professional manager” for the pro sports players associations.
“I wouldn’t call McGuiness just a lobbyist,” Durham said Friday. “McGuiness Group was our client. Our direction didn’t come from the players associations. It came from McGuiness Group.”
Durham said she, Reed and Ingram have updated their registrations to indicate that they’re about to start lobbying directly for the hockey and basketball players associations.
,,,The privilege tax, a common practice in states with professional sports franchises, applies to pro hockey and basketball players who play in the state of Tennessee as members of the Nashville Predators, Memphis Grizzlies or visiting NHL and NBA teams. The tax does not apply to the Tennessee Titans or their opponents.
Athletes are taxed $2,500 per game for up to three games per year. A recent article in the Marquette Sports Law Review, which argues that Tennessee’s tax is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, says some athletes wind up paying to play here when the privilege tax and other taxes exceed their per-game wages.

Group Formed to Oppose Constitutional Amendment on Abortion

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.

New Group Forms to Fight Vouchers, Oppose Education ‘Special Interests’

A new coalition of Davidson County parents and stakeholders is gearing up for what it perceives as a fight to both protect local autonomy and defend public schools from outside special-interest groups during the legislative session that commences Tuesday, according to The Tennessean.
This army of primarily mothers, calling itself “Standing Together 4 Strong Community Schools,” is focused on defeating what are expected to be two of the most controversial education proposals state lawmakers will consider this year: allowing students to access publicly funded “opportunity scholarships,” more commonly known as vouchers, to attend private schools and a separate measure to hand the state authority to approve charter schools, which would effectively bypass local school boards.
“For so long, special interests have been controlling legislation regarding public schools, and parents essentially have been left out of the mix,” said Jennifer Croslin-Smith, who has helped steer the group’s foundation. “We’re usually the last to find out what’s going on.
“As the direct consumers of this, I feel like we should be the first to hear about this legislation; we should be informed; we are the ones who should be speaking to the legislature.”
The group, which organizers say includes dozens of supporters at this early stage, launched a website last week, strongcommunityschools.com, where supporters plan to list dates and times of committee meetings, organize events and gatherings and discuss the issues at hand.
Members say they don’t plan to register as a political action committee or a lobbying organization, but could opt to apply for 501(c)3 (tax-exempt nonprofit) status in the weeks ahead
.

Note: The group’s website is HERE.

New Lobbying Firm Formed

News release from Windrow Phillips Group:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee government-relations veterans Anna Durham Windrow and Bill R. Phillips today announced they are forming the Windrow Phillips Group, a new firm offering a range of services to clients with issues involving state government.
In making the announcement, Windrow and Phillips formalized an existing strategic partnership and merged their practices under the same professional banner. The Windrow Phillips Group represents leading businesses and employers including: Amazon.com, Bank of America, CRC Health, Evergreen Packaging, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, and Western Union.
“We’re pleased to make this partnership official,” Windrow said. “Bill Phillips brings decades of strategic experience in government and politics, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the years ahead.” For his part, Phillips added: “Anna Windrow is one of the most respected government-relations professionals working with the Tennessee General Assembly and on Capitol Hill. We make a great team.”
The Windrow Phillips Group will be based in the Nashville City Center, overlooking the Tennessee State Capitol and Legislative Plaza. Also joining the firm as a member is Baylor Bone Swindell, an attorney who has worked on Capitol Hill for a decade. Combined, the firm has more than 75 years of government and political experience.
Phillips brings a depth in front-line experience in politics and government, including stints as: campaign manager; press secretary; chief of staff to former Gov. Bob List of Nevada; chief of staff at the Republican National Committee; chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education; manager of the 1988 Republican National Convention; and deputy director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under former President George H.W. Bush.
Most recently, Phillips served as Nashville’s deputy mayor from 1999 to 2007. He is a former associate vice chancellor of university relations for Vanderbilt University and former visiting professional scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center where co-authored the book “Nothing Sacred: Journalism, Politics and Public Trust in a Tell-All Age.” Phillips will continue to represent clients at the local government level.
Windrow, who served as the senior advisor to former Gov. Phil Bredesen, has worked in politics and government relations in Tennessee for most of her career. She began in public affairs for First American National Bank and later worked for former U.S. Senator Jim Sasser on his campaign and Senate staff. She served as executive director of the Tennessee Building Materials Association and worked for a decade as legislative director for the Nashville law firm Bass Berry & Sims. Windrow has overseen her own government relations practice for over 15 years.

‘Shadowy TN Company’ Fattens Conservative Super PAC Wallet

WASHINGTON (AP) — A shadowy Tennessee company donated more than $5 million to a prominent conservative super political action committee days after establishing itself.
So who’s behind one of the largest batches of election contributions this year? There’s a questionable trail.
Campaign finance reports filed late Thursday show that the political committee, FreedomWorks for America, received seven donations totaling $5.28 million from Knoxville-based Specialty Group Inc. The money, which accounted for about 90 percent of FreedomWorks for America’s donations during the first 15 days of October, is helping pay for TV ads supporting conservative candidates for federal office.
An Associated Press review of Tennessee business records showed that Specialty Group filed its incorporation papers on Sept. 26, less than a week before it gave several contributions to FreedomWorks worth between $125,000 and $1.5 million apiece. The Specialty Group appears to have no website detailing its products or services. It is registered to a suburban Knoxville home.
Specialty Group’s opaque contributions provide another example of the marked changes to the campaign finance system, in which corporations and individuals can spend unlimited sums of money to support candidate. Major donors, including those to a super PAC benefiting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have been caught routing significant donations through corporate entities, effectively cloaking their identities.

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Poll Finds Santorum Leading in Tennessee GOP Presidential Primary

An American Research Group, Inc. poll of Tennessee voters finds Rick Santorum — who has had no organized campaign going in the state — leads the three candidates who have had campaigns going at varying as a prelude to the March 6 presidential preference primary.
From the company’s website:
Rick Santorum leads the Tennessee Republican presidential primary with 34%. Santorum is followed by Mitt Romney with 27%, Newt Gingrich with 16%, and Ron Paul with 13%.
Santorum leads Romney 36% to 28% among self-identified Republicans, followed by Gingrich with 21% and Paul with 5%. Among self-identified independents and Democrats, Paul leads with 31%, followed by Santorum with 28%, Romney with 25%, and Gingrich with 3%.
Santorum leads Romney 33% to 26% among likely Republican primary voters saying they will definitely vote in the March 6 primary, followed by Gingrich with 18% and Paul with 13%. Santorum leads Romney 36% to 32% among those saying they will probably vote.
Santorum leads with 40% among likely Republican primary voters saying they are supporters of the Tea Party, followed by Gingrich with 21%, Romney with 17%, and Paul with 11%. Among likely primary voters saying they are not supporters of the Tea Party or are undecided about the Tea Party, Romney leads with 34%, followed by Santorum with 29%, Paul with 14%, and Gingrich with 12%.
Santorum leads Romney 30% to 23% among men, followed by Gingrich with 18% and Paul with 16%. Santorum leads Romney 37% to 31% among women, followed by Gingrich with 13% and Paul with 9%.

TN Tops in Nation on ‘Big Labor vs. Taxpayers Index’

Part of a Tennessean political notebook:
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group that describes its philosophy as favoring free markets and limited government, has released a report that says Tennessee is the top state when it comes to its policies on public-sector unions.
In a report called the “Big Labor vs. Taxpayers Index” released just before Labor Day, CEI said Tennessee had the most pro-taxpayer laws in the nation, based on its analysis of factors such as participation in public-sector unions whether the state favors union labor in government contracts, and whether government workers can strike. Strong unions for government workers drive up labor costs at the taxpayers’ expense, CEI says.
CEI gave Tennessee a score of 36 out of a maximum 40 points possible. The state beat Utah for the group’s top ranking, with Idaho, Texas and Florida rounding out the top five.
CEI gave New York the lowest score.
Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey touted the results over Twitter last week, saying he “couldn’t be prouder.”