Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2014 reelection campaign netted only about a $120,000 gain in the first six months of the year because of expenditures that included payments to three campaign workers who were also on the state’s payroll.
The campaign reported $347,913 in contributions from Jan. 15 until July 1 of this year, along with $226,968 in spending. Thanks to earlier fundraising and an $8,320 carryover from the 2010 campaign, the governor’s re-election fund still had a balance of more than $2 million cash on hand.
The disclosure also shows Haslam is continuing to list $3.5 million that he personally put into the 2010 campaign as a loan to the 2014 campaign, meaning he can use surplus funds from the 2014 effort to repay himself with campaign money if he chooses.
So far, Haslam has no announced opponent to his reelection.
Top donors on the contributor list include Tom Beasley, a founder of Corrections Corporation of America, and his wife, Wendy, and Joseph Gregory of Piney Flats, part of a family that became wealthy through King Pharmaceuticals, and his wife, Lucinda. Each donated $7,600, the maximum permitted by state law for an individual.
Cari Wade Gervin provides a detailed critique of former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble’s appointment of former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble by Gov. Bill Haslam to the state Board of Parole under the headline, “Haslam’s New Parole Board Appointee Doesn’t Believe in Separation of Church and State or, Apparently, Ethics.”
An excerpt: In February, Gobble resigned from his position after a string of malfeasances, including abusing the city’s Facebook page; hiring a 19-year old friend from church he referred to as his “Jedi Knight” as the city’s communications director at $35,000 a year and then, when realizing that the appointment violated city code, deleting the code from the website in the hopes that no one would find out; threatening and suspending a court clerk over a case Gobble’s daughter was involved in; and even using his city credit card to pay for regular trips to Baskin Robbins as a “justifiable business expense.” (The last one we can at least understand — ice cream is pretty necessary to human existence.)
….And it’s true, Gobble does have lots of experience in law enforcement, which is conceivably a good quality for someone tasked with the ability to grant offenders parole. However, it turns out that Gobble wasn’t really good at those jobs either. He was reportedly fired from his position in the Secret Service and forced to resign from his position as director of the Bradley County Emergency Agency for violations of the Hatch Act — i.e., the law that prevents people using their offices to conduct campaign activities on the job. (Similar violations had previously forced him off the Cleveland City Council.)
Then, just before Gobble left his job as Bradley County Sheriff, the jail almost lost its certification with the Tennessee Corrections Institute for overcrowding, mold in the kitchen, and standing water in at least one cell. But all of that was ok with Gobble, we guess, because it seems his main concern with running a prison wasn’t maintaining it but rather bringing prisoners to Jesus. In a rather long essay, apparently penned while on the job and then posted to the actual official Bradley County Sheriff’s website, Gobble explains how “Our Christian Heritage” — that’s the essay’s title — is influencing how he runs his jail.
WTVF-TV continues a review of Haslam administration emails with a report on indications that Tom Ingram was consulting on political campaign matters while paid personally by the governor. If so, that could mean disclosure of the payments is required under state law as the equivalent of campaign self-financing… but the governor has refused to disclose the amount of his personal payments to Ingram.
From Ben Hall’s report: State e-mails, obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, raise new questions about whether Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam broke campaign finance laws by paying lobbyist Tom Ingram out of his own pocket.
The emails reveal Ingram participated in campaign-related planning events while he was on the governor’s private payroll.
…The governor insisted that there’s nothing wrong with having lobbyist and consultant Tom Ingram on his private payroll. He said he hired Ingram to help with statewide “organizational” issues.
“It’s not fair to have the state pay Tom — and he wasn’t doing political work where it should be campaign,” Haslam said last month.
But the new emails reveal Ingram continued to do campaign work, planning for the governor’s next election, while he was on the governor’s private payroll.
In October of 2012, the governor’s chief of staff, Mark Cate, e-mailed Ingram about a “2014 planning retreat.” Cate asked Ingram, as well as Haslam’s campaign finance director and key office staff, to set aside eight hours over two days for the retreat.
Later, Ingram suggested having the retreat at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel because he preferred “to get away from government space.”
Haslam’s office confirmed the retreat was campaign related about his reelection…. But even though Ingram was receiving regular monthly retainer payments, the governor’s office now says Ingram was not paid for the time he attended the campaign retreat.
Haslam’s office did not provide details of the campaign retreat, but said it only lasted a couple of hours.
…Other emails reveal that in a September 2012 discussion with the subject line “planning session,” Ingram told Mark Cate we “also needs [sic] to discuss super PAC.” Haslam’s office said Cate did not know what the “Super PAC” reference meant. (Note: Haslam has given money to Karl Rove’s ‘Super PAC,’ HERE)
…A spokesman for the governor said that Haslam started paying Ingram out of his campaign account on July 1. He said that was the plan all along as Haslam’s reelection grew closer and it had nothing to do with outside pressure.
However, the governor has no plans to amend past disclosures to reveal what he has paid Ingram.
Excerpt from Frank Cagle’s latest column, wherein he says Gov. Bill Haslam is bringing revolutionary changes to state government. Maybe just because he can. In what universe is Bill Haslam a moderate?
I suppose on the surface if you contrast him with some of the legislators who push a social agenda–like most any bill sponsored by state Sen. Stacey Campfield–he may come off as a moderate. But if you look at the things he has done (or proposes doing) he is fundamentally changing state government and the state’s education system.
Set aside whether you think the things he has done are good or bad. Certainly there is room for reform in education and in the functions of state government. My point is that people tend to overlook just what a revolutionary figure Haslam has become in his time as governor.
…Some of the privatization moves have been controversial. One wonders if he is as naive as he seems. Is there another political figure locally or in state government who would not have foreseen his relationships with Jones Lang LaSalle, Tom Ingram, and the energy company coming under fire for conflicts of interest? What is he paying Ingram for, if not to warn him about these perceptions?
Or is he secure enough in his position that he just doesn’t care?
Gov. Bill Haslam and his TennCare chief aren’t happy with the final federal rules on Medicaid expansion, saying they don’t provide the flexibility the governor wants on cost-sharing for enrollees, according to Andy Sher. The “early read” on the 606-page set of rules, released July 5 by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, are “not encouraging,” but Tennessee is “still having discussions,” Haslam told reporters this week.
Haslam, a Republican, doesn’t want to expand the state’s version of TennCare, as envisioned in President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, to additional low-income residents.
But instead of flatly refusing to participate, he wants to use the additional federal money intended for the Medicaid expansion to buy these adults’ way onto the federal health care exchanges where the uninsured can purchase private insurance.
The governor said he still holds out hope that federal officials will accept his “Tennessee Plan” that includes higher cost-sharing for people under 100 percent of the federal poverty level than the new rules allow.
“It’s awfully early to get down,” he said.
TennCare Director Darin Gordon said the state still is sorting through the rules. But he noted “some of the early takeaways” are the added flexibility on cost-sharing Tennessee is seeking isn’t there.
The Haslam administration was looking for more flexibility in “nominal” charges on care that officials hope to use to shape enrollees’ use of services and lifestyle choices.
“What they did was basically finalize what they put out in January,” Gordon said. “If you’re trying to read between the lines, it doesn’t seem to indicate they are interested in being flexible beyond what they set out in the Jan. 22 rule. This is a final rule.”
Still, Gordon said Tennessee and several other states interested in the same approach “will have some discussions” with federal officials.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Dr. Carroll Van West as state historian.
West replaces the late Walter T. Durham, who served 11 years in the honorary position. (Note: Post on Durham’s death HERE.)
“Dr. West’s faithful service to his field for many years reflects a commitment to excellence that will serve the citizens of Tennessee very well,” Haslam said. “His incredible body of work speaks for itself, and we are fortunate and grateful to have him as our state historian.”
West has served as director at the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area since 2002.
He has taught as a professor in the MTSU history department since 1985. He currently serves as a co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and as a Tennessee representative on the National Board of Advisors of National Trust for Historic Preservation. West also sits on the Executive Board of Lewis and Clark Trust, Inc. and on the Advisory Board of Teaching with Primary Sources, Library of Congress.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Douglas T. Jenkins of Rogersville as Chancellor in the 3rd Judicial District, replacing Thomas R. Frierson who was named to the Tennessee Court of Appeals in February.
The 3rd Judicial District serves Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins and Greene counties.
“Doug has a depth of experience in law, and I am pleased to make this appointment,” Haslam said. “I appreciate his willingness to serve, and I know he will do an excellent job on the bench.”
Jenkins, 45, has practiced in the Law Office of Douglas T. Jenkins in Rogersville since 1997. He worked in the Law Offices of Terry, Terry & Stapleton in Morristown from 1995-1997.
His areas of practice have included domestic relations; probate/wills/estate/estate litigation; criminal defense and property boundary disputes. Jenkins has been owner and manager of a private family farm in Hawkins County since 1986.
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Tim Gobble of Cleveland to the state Board of Parole, filling the remainder of the term left vacant by the resignation of Charles Taylor.
Gobble’s appointment becomes effective Tuesday, July 16 and the term expires December 31, 2015. (Note: A board member is paid $93,732 per year.)
“Tim has demonstrated his commitment and responsibility throughout an extensive career in public service, and we are fortunate to have him on the Board of Parole,” Haslam said. “I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this important capacity.”
Gobble has been interim deputy chief in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office since May, returning after serving as deputy chief in 2010-2011. He served as city manager of East Ridge from April 2011-February 2013. Gobble was the sheriff of Bradley County from 2006-2010.
He served as director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency from 2004-2006 and was a special agent and supervisor in the United States Secret Service from 1989-2004, serving in Nashville, Houston, Washington D.C. and Chattanooga. He was a police officer in Cleveland from 1988-1989.
“I am honored to be appointed to this position by Governor Haslam, for whom I have great admiration and respect,” Gobble said. “I look forward to serving and working with Chairman Montgomery, other Parole Board members, Parole Board staff and relevant stakeholders in the effective operation of the criminal justice system.”
Haslam named Richard Montgomery chairman of the Board of Parole on July 1.
Gobble received a bachelor’s degree in government and public administration from David Lipscomb College, now Lipscomb University, in 1986. He and his wife, Christie, have been married 25 years and have two daughters and one son.
Note: The Tennessean adds some background not included in the news release: The move comes five months after Gobble was removed as the city manager of East Ridge, a Chattanooga suburb, after a tumultuous two years on the job.
Gobble ran into criticism for a decision to hire a member of his church as a personal assistant and for his disciplining of the city’s court clerks in a case involving his daughter.
Gobble was hired almost immediately by Hamilton County and given oversight of the jail. Gobble also has served as sheriff of Bradley County, director of the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and a special agent and supervisor in the U.S. Secret Service.
— UPDATE: And there’s this from Nooga.com: Asked how he reconciled his pick with Gobble’s recent experience in East Ridge, Haslam declined to comment on the issue and instead focused on his other roles in public life.
“I mean, I can’t really speak for both sides of that issue,” Haslam said. “But I think from what I’ve seen of Tim, both as Bradley County sheriff, his time in Hamilton County and his federal government Secret Service work, I think he can add to the program.”
The Tennessee branch of an online university was launched Tuesday with a $30 million budget, including $5 million in state funding authorized by initially-reluctant legislators at the urging of Gov. Bill Haslam.
Western Governors University-Tennessee will target adult students seeking a new career, particularly those who have done some college classes but never graduated, Haslam said. He and WGU President Robert W. Mendenhall signed a “memorandum of understanding” to start the program at a news conference.
WGU will offer bachelor and master degrees in four areas – business, K-12 teacher education, information technology and health professions, including nursing.
Knox County School Superintendent Jim McIntyre, who serves on WGU Tennessee Advisory Board, said it offers “an opportunity for great strides in the future” by providing “a cadre of very well-prepared teachers to add to our workforce.”