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.
A longtime state employee who has been diagnosed with cancer has filed suit charging that top officials in Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration illegally terminated him in violation of some of the same civil service laws and rules the governor is seeking to abolish, according to the Tennessean. William B. Wood, 54, of Nashville has charged that he was terminated without cause or notice just six months before he would have become eligible for retirement health insurance. His suit, filed in Davidson County Chancery Court, states that Wood currently is unable to get coverage or treatment for his cancer.
The suit charges that Wood’s job, as an attorney and workers’ compensation specialist, was improperly classified as “executive service” and that he was improperly denied the right to challenge his dismissal. The suit comes as Haslam is seeking legislative approval for sweeping changes in the state’s civil service statutes, contending the 70-year-old system provides too much protection for hundreds of poorly performing public employees.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The sponsor of a bill that would make it a felony to harbor or transport an illegal immigrant has withdrawn the measure from consideration.
The bill had been scheduled for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Immigrants’ rights activists claimed victory for the change. A news release from the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said members and supporters had asked their legislators to oppose the measure.
Bill sponsor Rep. Tony Shipley said their actions had nothing to do with his decision.
The Kingsport Republican said his main concern was to prevent human trafficking, and other bills that have been introduced this session already address that issue.
Shipley’s bill mirrors portions of a controversial Alabama law that is the subject of several lawsuits.
A state House bill that would allow law enforcement to check the immigration status of someone pulled over or detained was put on hold last week, at least for the moment., observes The Tennessean. The Lawful Immigration Enforcement Act (HB1380) was moved behind the budget by a House finance subcommittee Wednesday morning. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, acknowledged that the move, made until an estimated $3 million can be generated to implement the measure, slows its progress.
“Putting it behind the budget doesn’t kill it,” he said. “It basically parks it.”
The bill would allow law enforcement to check someone’s immigration status if an officer reasonably suspects a person already stopped or detained isn’t a citizen or legal immigrant. The bill also would create a training program for law enforcement about immigration laws.
“We are prioritizing the state’s stance on illegal immigration based on the financial resources we have,” Carr said. ‘Very targeted approach’
Eben Cathey, communications coordinator for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, is pleased by the bill’s delay — although he would have rather seen the subcommittee defeat the “discriminatory legislation” outright.
“This Arizona copycat bill doesn’t reflect the values and priorities of Tennessee voters,” he said. “It takes some of the worst aspects of these bills and tries to implement them in Tennessee.”
Republican leaders in Tennessee appear to be dialing down the heat on illegal immigration, reports Chas Sisk, but activists still worry that the volatile issue could bubble up in an election year. Gov. Bill Haslam and leaders in the Republican-controlled legislature have said they plan to focus on only one immigration bill — a measure that would require state agencies to check immigration documents — and they are backing away from more controversial proposals, such as police checks and a ban on giving a ride to non-citizens who can’t prove their right to be in the country.
They’ve also moved toward limiting the scope of the one bill they do support.
Advocates for immigrant groups say they believe the moves signal that Republican leaders want to avoid having immigration overshadow their efforts on jobs and education, issues that Tennesseans say weigh heaviest on their minds. But advocates also express doubts about whether the GOP’s rank-and-file will agree to mute the issue or press ahead on a matter that still has the potential to energize conservative voters.
…Nearly 30 bills that deal with immigration had been filed in the legislature as of Friday, but most were holdovers from last year that received only cursory attention. Republican leaders say they have intentionally taken a go-slow approach to illegal immigration, one that avoids triggering legal and political disputes such as those that have followed immigration bills passed recently in Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.
“We’ve taken a more strategic approach — in a particular bill identifying a problem and finding a solution to that problem,” said state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, the GOP’s point man on immigration in the House. “That’s part of the reason we’re being successful about upholding the Constitution.”
…One new bill that is attracting some attention, House Bill 2191, would make it a felony to harbor or transport anyone that a person “knows or reasonably should know is an illegal alien.” State Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, are sponsoring the measure, which is scheduled to have its first hearing in a House subcommittee on Wednesday.
Immigrant groups say the measure is meant to create a climate of suspicion. Many churches also are preparing to oppose the measure, which they say would open them to prosecution for missions as common as shuttling immigrant children to vacation Bible schools or allowing homeless immigrants to stay in church buildings during winter. Note: There’s also a sidebar on the law approved last session requiring large employers to check the federal “E-Verify” system – or look at a driver’s license – for a prospective employee’s immigration status. Several Middle Tennessee companies falling under the law, which some skeptics say was so watered down in the legislative debate that it has no real teeth, say it has caused few headaches in practice.
“This is nothing new to us,” Tractor Supply Co. spokesman Randy Guiler said. “There were other states we’re in that already required E-Verify, so we already had procedures in place. All we had to do was implement them in Tennessee.”
But some worry the law could have deeper consequences as it gets applied to smaller businesses. Those with 200 to 499 employees must meet the new requirements by July 1, while businesses with six to 249 employees have a year after that to comply.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Owners of musical instruments made with illegally imported wood don’t face prosecution, two federal agencies say in a letter that addresses fears stirred up after a major Tennessee guitar-maker was raided.
“The federal government focuses its enforcement efforts on those who are removing protected species from the wild and making a profit by trafficking in them,” the U.S. Justice Department and the Interior Department wrote to U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Blackburn and other congressional Republicans have been pressing the federal agencies to meet with them about Aug. 24 raids on Gibson Guitar Corp. factories in Memphis and Nashville where agents seized pallets of wood, guitars and computer hard drives. Gibson chief executive Henry Juszkiewicz has publicly blasted the raids as an example of the federal government risking U.S. jobs with over-zealous regulation.
After the raid, Juszkiewicz attended a speech by President Barack Obama as a guest of Blackburn and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich and Christopher J. Mansour, director of legislative affairs at Interior, said those who “unknowingly possess” an instrument made from illegally imported materials don’t have a criminal problem.
News release from state attorney general’s office:
Three family members who ran two Nashville furniture stores and were alleged to have taken orders for furniture but failed to deliver the items purchased have agreed not to engage in future illegal business practices, Attorney General Bob Cooper and Gary Cordell, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, announced today.
The State of Tennessee filed suit last year against Amanda Lee Drew, Timothy Bryan Drew and Anita Renee Drew, who did business as WOW Furniture, formerly at 726 Gallatin Road in Madison until it closed in 2009, and also against Timothy and Anita Drew doing business as Drew’s Furniture Depot (also known as Drew’s Furniture at 3854 Dickerson Pike from 2001 to 2008).
Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly are bragging on their accomplishments in immigration reform — especially about a unique approach to the E-Verify hiring system — but what could be ripe for debate is the list of immigration bills they’re ready to push next year.
More from Mike Morrow’s TNReport: Lawmakers say they intend to pursue legislation beginning in January on immigration enforcement at the state level (SB0780), denying state taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens (HB1379), an English-only driver’s license process (SB0010) and, in what may be a highly volatile issue, an effort (HB0751) to seek clarification on whether a child born here to illegal aliens should be considered a citizen, as has generally been the practice.
Legislators are trumpeting their accomplishments in this year’s session not only on the successful E-Verify plan and the material support bill to fight “homegrown terrorism” but a lesser-known bill meant to address issues related to legal refugees who come into the state.
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has issued a detailed report on the Legislature’s efforts on immigration this year, including continued warnings about each of the bills that didn’t pass. (Note: Link HERE.) The group claims success in holding the line on “Arizona copycat legislation,” but it remains aware of states’ individual efforts at enacting immigration reforms.
…Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, one of the most adamant proponents of immigration legislation in the state, has said he will try to get an enforcement bill passed next year.
“We waited to see what Georgia was doing, what Alabama was doing, and we’re going to tweak our bill,” Ketron said. “We’re going to come back with a vengeance, and thank goodness the Supreme Court ruled the way they did just a few weeks ago on that issue.
The high court dealt strictly with an employment issue, upholding Arizona’s law penalizing businesses that hire illegal immigrants, lending strength to states that want to use the federal E-Verify identity system. There is debate, however, as to how far the court might go in other areas of enforcement, such as checking papers. The court ruling, nevertheless, was a sign that states may be allowed to act on immigration enforcement where the federal government has not acted.
“We’re going to bring that bill hot and heavy,” Ketron said. “It’s going to be the best bill passed so far.”
By Travis Lollar
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention approved a new resolution at its meeting in Arizona this week advocating a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, in a move that policy leader Richard Land described as “a really classic illustration of gospel love and gospel witness.”
The resolution passed Wednesday also calls on Southern Baptists to minister to all people and to reject bigotry and harassment toward all people, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status.
“I think Southern Baptists understand it’s just not politically viable to send an estimated 12 to 15 million undocumented immigrants back where they came from,” said the Rev. Paul Jimenez, pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., and chairman of the SBC’s resolutions committee. “It’s not humane either.”
A motion to strike the reference to a path to legal status was narrowly defeated by a vote of 766 to 723, according to the SBC’s Baptist Press.
An illegal immigrant worker had a role in the first fatal accident this year on the Henley Bridge reconstruction project, the victim in a second fatal accident may have been here illegally, and a federal investigation is under way to determine if contractor Britton Bridge LLC knowingly hired illegal immigrants, according to state documents.
More from the News Sentinel story: The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is working with the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, but the federal agency “will take the lead investigation in this matter,” state Labor Commissioner Karla Davis said in a June 10 memo.
“They have subpoenaed the work records of Britton Bridge,” she added in the memo to Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer.
Britton Bridge spokesman John Van Mol said the company has a policy of hiring only U.S. citizens or immigrants who have proper work documentation, but may have been duped by quality bogus documents. He said the firm has voluntarily suspended bidding on any new projects until it can enter a more effective employment eligibility verification system.