Tag Archives: jack

Rand Paul to Help With State Senator’s Fundraising

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) — A potential Republican presidential candidate is headlining Tennessee state Sen. Jack Johnson’s annual summer barbeque in Franklin.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, of Bowling Green, Ky., is scheduled to attend the fundraiser at the Factory in Franklin on July 28. Several hundred people have attended the event in years past. Tickets are $50.
Johnson is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and a prominent fundraiser in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Tennessee Republicans have not voted for the eventual presidential nominee in the primary since giving the nod to President George W. Bush in 2004.
In 2008, the Tennessee GOP primary was won by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee over U.S. Sen. John McCain, and in 2012 Republicans voted for former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Bill Cuts Unemployment Benefits for Jobless With Dependents

Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation to slash dependent benefits for unemployed Tennesseans as a way to rein in a program that was expanded in 2009 under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, reports The Tennessean.
The bill (HB639), which cleared a key House committee with little resistance on Tuesday, would save the state an estimated $62.5 million annually, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor. Those savings are necessary, supporters say, because $141 million in federal funds given to the state under the stimulus have run out, and Tennessee employers have had to pick up the bill.
A Democratic leader in the House called the proposal a bad bill that would hurt the unemployed in the state. But Republican leadership, including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, said the state was fixing what amounted to an unfunded mandate.
Consideration of the bill comes one week after the Department of Labor’s unemployment benefits program was blistered in a state audit that found fraud and mismanagement that “threatened the integrity” of the unemployment benefits system.
“This is the very definition of an unfunded mandate,” said state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, adding that the state needed to halt the expanded benefits in order to preserve the health of the unemployment insurance fund. “Experts say there’s no way our fund could withstand another recession.”
Under current state law, unemployed workers receive $15 per week for each dependent, with a cap of $50 per week, in addition to their regular unemployment check. The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, and in the Senate by Ramsey and Johnson, would end such dependent benefits.
Unemployment checks for individuals are capped at $275 per week. A family with four or more dependents receives an additional $50 each week.
The bill cleared the House Consumer and Human Resources committee Tuesday with a voice vote, though Democrats such as Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, expressed their opposition.

GOP Ad Likens Democrat to Lane Kiffin, Stirs Editor’s Ire

A Tennessee Republican party TV commercial likens Democratic state House candidate Gloria Johnson to departed University of Tennessee football Coach Lane Kiffin.
The 30-second spot uses a News Sentinel video of Johnson — without the audio — as a backdrop while a narrator declares “political activist Gloria Johnson” is running for the state House with help from “her liberal special interest friends” who “support higher taxes and bigger government.”
The reference is to unions that have contributed to Johnson’s campaign, according to Adam Nickas, executive director of the state party, although the ad itself doesn’t mention unions.
At the end of the commercial, the narrator asks, “What’s Gloria Johnson’s strategy? Take the money and run.”
The video then changes to a picture of Kiffin, who was UT football coach for the 2009 season, then left for the University of Southern California.
“Hasn’t Knoxville seen this before?” asks the narrator.

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News Sentinel Ends Endorsements in Presidential Race

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Knoxville News Sentinel has ended a decades-old tradition of endorsing presidential candidates, saying it no longer has any special access to the candidates.
Editor Jack McElroy said in a column (http://bit.ly/WpA2Ec) published Sunday it was a difficult decision.
“Citizens can find plenty of opinions about the presidential candidates to weigh against their own, and there is no shortage of community dialogue — far from it,” McElroy wrote. “The News Sentinel also has no special access to the candidates, and, in this age of global Internet and 24-hour news, we have no sources of information that every other citizen does not have as well.”
The tradition of endorsing a presidential candidate dates to the paper’s beginnings in the 1920s.
Until 2008, the newspaper’s presidential endorsement was decided by its parent company, E.W. Scripps Co. Most went to Republicans, including in 2000 when the paper backed George W. Bush over Tennessean Al Gore. In 2008, the newpaper’s editorial board endorsed John McCain.
McElroy said the editorial board sees strong reasons for endorsing candidates in local races, including sparking community dialogue and using a newspaper’s special access to candidates to help inform voters. That rationale no longer applies to the presidential contest, he said.
The paper will continue to endorse candidates in local races

On Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Her Five Foes

Excerpts from The Tennessean’s setup story on the 7th Congressional District race:
Re-elect her, Rep. Marsha Blackburn says, and voters will get what she’s always given them — a lawmaker passionate about staying in touch with constituents, making government transparent and curing its overspending.
Re-elect her, her opponents say, and voters will get someone who has turned into a Washington insider after 10 years in office.
Such are the battle lines in the race for the 7th Congressional District, the U.S. House seat that has drawn the most candidates in Tennessee this year, with six.
Blackburn, 60, a Brentwood Republican, says anyone who thinks she has become comfortable in Washington and no longer cares about changing things just isn’t paying attention.
“Look at who has been (making) an issue of out-of-control federal spending since Day 1,” she said in an interview. “I have been a solid member of a whole change-agent team.”
…Several of Blackburn’s five opponents, however, portray her as captured by the congressional lifestyle and the campaign contributions that come with it. Blackburn has raised $1.45 million for her 2012 campaign, and her personal political action committee and has cash on hand of $1.26 million. Sixty percent of her money comes from special interest PACs, a larger percentage than for any other Middle Tennessee member of Congress.
“She votes to take care of the needs of the corporate empire,” said Green Party candidate Howard Switzer, 67, an architect in Linden. Switzer says America needs decentralization of its economy — highlighted by more local food production — and more “earth-friendly” policies in general. Switzer also believes these are “apocalyptic times.”
The Democrat in the race is Credo Amouzouvik, a 34-year-old disabled Army veteran in Clarksville. Amouzouvik said he was motivated to run because the low approval ratings of Congress indicate voters are not getting the leadership they deserve.
…Another Army veteran in the race is independent candidate Jack Arnold of Kingston Springs, 38, who just graduated from Vanderbilt Law School. Arnold said he would emphasize changing a campaign finance system that makes lawmakers worry more about fundraising than addressing issues.
…Arnold is the only one of Blackburn’s opponents to report any campaign money to the Federal Election Commission. He’s raised $13,353, a mix of his own funds and some individual contributions, but no PAC money.
Another independent candidate, Leonard Ladner, 58, of Hohenwald, operates his own trucking firm and drives an 18-wheeler. Ladner said Blackburn is “a slick talker” and “a Republican who has been there too long.”
…The other candidate in the race is Ryan Akin, 44, a customer service representative from Bon Aqua who contends “the American way of life is diminishing right and left.”
Akin said his drive to preserve American values would emphasize the primacy of the English language, among other aspects of U.S. culture.

Marsha Blackburn Has Opponents

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn is political media sensation virtually certain to win re-election, the Tennessean reports, But there is some opposition.
Her challengers acknowledge that taking on the Brentwood Republican won’t be easy.
But they are running, they say, because they don’t like what they see in Washington.
The four are independents Jack Arnold, Lenny Ladner and William Akin, and Democrat Credo Amouzouvik. A second Democrat, Chris Martin, also had filed to run but now says he has dropped out.
Howard Switzer of the Green Party is battling state officials in court over whether he also can appear on the ballot.
Arnold, of Kingston Springs, said Blackburn represents what’s wrong with Congress: partisan gridlock, the influence of moneyed special interests and a lack of term limits.
“It just doesn’t jive with what she presents herself as,” Arnold said. “She’s sort of the perfect example of why common-sense legislation and reform doesn’t get passed, and how that ties into campaign finance.”
Amouzouvik, of Clarksville, the only Democrat in the race, echoes those sentiments.
“As your congressman, I will always consult my conscience and my constituents, and not my party, corporate lobbyists, and those who give me campaign contributions as my opponent likes to do,” Amouzouvik says on his campaign website, which lists education and jobs as his priorities.
Amouzouvik, an Iraq War veteran and naturalized U.S. citizen born in Togo, is seeking a political science degree from Austin Peay State University. He could not be reached for comment
Arnold, who graduated from Vanderbilt Law School in May and spent a year in Iraq as an Army intelligence analyst, said campaign finance reform would be his first priority if elected. He also would focus on reforming the tax code and implementing term limits.
Arnold said he decided to run after Blackburn supported the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which aimed to crack down on copyright infringement. While Blackburn rails against over-regulation, Arnold said, she favored expanding the government’s reach to crack down on Internet pirates because the music, TV and motion-picture industries are among her biggest donors.
Blackburn’s campaign has received more than $61,000 from those industries since the 2010 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Haslam Backs Brooks Against Self-Funding Challenger

Gov. Bill Haslam is coming to the aid of another incumbent Republican legislator with primary opposition, namely Rep. Kevin Brooks of Cleveland, So reports Andy Sher as part of a story on legislative primary races, especially in Southeast Tennessee.
He is scheduled to be at Brooks’ scheduled campaign kickoff Monday. The three-term lawmaker, now assistant majority leader, faces opposition in his District 24 reelection bid from Jack Epperson, pastor of Fairview Worship Center.
Epperson, a one-time Cleveland policeman and a TVA retiree, said he intends to self-fund his bid.
…Cleveland’s Epperson said he decided to run against Brooks after reading the U.S. Constitution and Federalist Papers and “seeing the way government was going.”
“I think they never envisioned these career politicians” who are “just growing government … [to] make their jobs more secure,” he said.
Epperson said he’s not a tea party member but agrees with the party’s views on limited government and fiscal matters.
Brooks said he is hardly a career politician as he finishes up six years in office and seeks another term. He and other Republicans point to cuts they made this year in taxes and state programs.
Epperson’s remarks, he said, “show how out of touch with the Republican majority he truly is. I have a full-time job in Cleveland, every day. I’ve never considered myself a full-time politician.”
In District 31, Cobb faces Dayton insurance agency owner Ron Travis. Travis did not return a message left on his office phone Friday.
In House District 22, David Kimbro of Cleveland is challenging Watson. Kimbro, who said he once taught school in Dallas, Texas, but now works as a line cook, said he believes all incumbents should have an opponent. He said he intends to conduct most of his campaign via the Internet.

New Sex Education Bill: You Can Say ‘Contraception’

The Tennessee Senate has passed a new set of definitions for public school sex education, reports WPLN. The proposal’s sponsor says that it will still be okay to talk about contraception in class.
The new sex education definitions bill had been attacked in committee as being focused on “abstinence only.”
Senate sponsor Jack Johnson, a Williamson County Republican, says that’s not accurate.
“What we’re teaching, or what we’re hoping to teach in regard to this subject matter, is abstinence-based, or abstinence-centered. There is discussion of contraception, that is certainly permissible when this type of curriculum is presented.”
Memphis Democrat Beverly Marrero agrees that abstinence is the surest way to avoid both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but argues that stressing “Don’t Do It” may not reach the audience most at risk.
“I think that the young people who need education the most, are the young people that are not always heeding our advice.”
Marrero cast the only vote against the measure.
…The bill, SB 3310 Johnson/HB 3621 Gotto, replaces three paragraphs in the current state law with nine pages of new definitions and rules. The new proposal even defines the word “puberty.”
The bill was rewritten in the Senate to broaden some definitions of sexual activity. The new amendment reads much like the old bill, except it deletes the words “penis” and “vagina” from the definition of “sexual intercourse.”
The Senate also added a further amendment defining “risk avoidance.”
specifically designating the “risk avoidance” means “an approach that encourages the prevention of participation in risk behaviors as opposed to merely reducing the consequences of those risk behaviors.”
The reference is apparently aimed at the post-activity procedure called “morning-after pills.”

Federal Express Top PAC in Giving; Jack Johnson Top in Receiving

Dozens of special interests gave $2.93 million so far to the campaigns of Tennessee lawmakers and legislative candidates during the first year of the 2012 election cycle, according to Andy Sher’s review of state filings..
A political action committee operated by Memphis-based FedEx Corp. topped the list, according to figures from the state’s Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
The shipping and logistics giant’s PAC gave $101,582 to dozens of lawmakers and candidates between Jan. 16, 2011, and Jan. 15, 2012, an analysis of direct contributions reported by lawmakers and candidates shows.
Government contractors, businesses regulated by the General Assembly and other interests, including organized labor, were among those giving through traditional PACs.
And joining the ranks for the first time are corporations, which can give under a 2011 law passed by the Republican-led General Assembly. In 2010, the GOP boosted its Senate majority and gained operational control of the House.
…Dozens of special interests ranging from AT&T to Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee have given $2.93 million so far to the campaigns of Tennessee lawmakers and legislative candidates during the 2012 election cycle, state filings show.
A political action committee operated by Memphis-based FedEx Corp. topped the list, according to figures from the state’s Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
The shipping and logistics giant’s PAC gave $101,582 to dozens of lawmakers and candidates between Jan. 16, 2011, and Jan. 15, 2012, an analysis of direct contributions reported by lawmakers and candidates shows.
Government contractors, businesses regulated by the General Assembly and other interests, including organized labor, were among those giving through traditional PACs.
And joining the ranks for the first time are corporations, which can give under a 2011 law passed by the Republican-led General Assembly. In 2010, the GOP boosted its Senate majority and gained operational control of the House.

Top five Tennessee PACs in donations:
1) Federal Express PAC: $101,582
2) AT&T Tennessee PAC: $93,100
3) Wine & Spirits Wholesalers PAC: $78,100
4) Independent Medicine’s PAC TN (physicians): $66,850
5) Tennessee Parents/Teachers Putting Students First: $65,40

Top five collectors of PAC money:
1) Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Johnson, R-Franklin: $88,242
2) Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville: $80,650
3) House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville: $79,484
4) Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville: $66,400
5) House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga: $65,100

Moore County Retreats from Plans to Tax Jack Daniel’s

By Joe Edwards, Associated Press
The makers of Jack Daniel’s whiskey can take a victory sip after a proposal by local officials to tax its barrels of booze was derailed before it could reach the Tennessee Legislature.
The Moore County Council in Lynchburg voted 10-5 Monday evening to rescind a vote asking lawmakers to authorize a local referendum on the proposal, which would have taxed Jack Daniel’s up to $5 million annually with the revenue going to local coffers.
Charles Rogers of Lynchburg, who had spearheaded the effort, said the issue “is now on life support.”
Jack Daniel’s is the world’s top-selling whiskey, distilled in the tiny town which has been celebrated in folksy, black-and-white advertisements for years.
State Rep. David Alexander, who represents Lynchburg and attended the meeting, said he considers the issue dead.
“It’s the will of the people,” he said of the council vote. “They have spoken.”
A distillery spokesman did not return an after-hours call Monday for comment.
A previous vote was 9-5 to send the proposal to the legislature, and Rogers said he was told the town had been depicted as greedy in worldwide news reports about the proposal since the first vote.
The 145-year-old distillery, owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Brown-Forman Corp., now pays $1.5 million in local property taxes. Distillery officials had opposed the measure, saying Jack Daniel’s is already paying its fair share.
Members of the legislature had said the proposal had little chance of passing.
The distillery, tucked away on 1,700 hilly acres in south-central Tennessee, has 450 employees, making it the largest industry in the small county. About 210,000 people visit the distillery annually, qualifying it as a top tourist draw in Tennessee.
Ironically, Moore County is dry, meaning the iconic Old No. 7 cannot be legally sold in the county, just distilled.