Tag Archives: legislators

Former Rep. George Fraley dies, aged 85

George Fraley, a former state representative and Franklin County mayor, died Wednesday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville two days after he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, reports the Winchester Herald Chronicle. He was 85.

His wife, Betty, confirmed that her husband had passed away at 10:50 a.m.

“He really will be missed,” she said.

Mrs. Fraley said visitation will be from 5-9 p.m. Friday at Moore-Cortner Funeral Home with services set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Winchester Church of Christ.

Mr. Fraley had apparently fallen out of bed just before 12:30 a.m. Monday and had hit his head, becoming incoherent. Mrs. Fraley said she called for medical attention, and Mr. Fraley was taken to Southern Tennessee Regional Health System and was later transported to Vanderbilt by helicopter ambulance where he was placed in intensive care.

…She said family, friends and fellow political officials have extended their support to aid her and Mr. Fraley while he was in intensive care, and she is very appreciative of their kind gestures.

“We’ve had so many people reach out to us,” Mrs. Fraley said. “It’s unreal. I’m so grateful to everyone who has offered to help and pray. We solicit their continued prayers.”

She said her husband’s political legacy was known far and wide. Mrs. Fraley referred to a Vanderbilt nurse who had referenced Mr. Fraley’s stance against a state income tax while a college student in Texas and had attributed his efforts to shaping her political outlook.

Mr. Fraley served as county commissioner in Franklin County from 1969 to 1982. He then served as county executive from 1990 to 1994. Later, Middle Tennessee State University honored Fraley as being the school’s outstanding alumnae for his service to the community.

In 1996, Mr. Fraley joined the Tennessee State House of Representatives and served until 2010. Fraley, a Democrat, was defeated by Rep. David Alexander, R-Winchester, in the November general election that year.

October date set for Todd sign theft trial

An October 11 trial date has been set in the case of suburban state Rep. Curry Todd, charged earlier this month with stealing opponent Mark Lovell’s yard signs, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Lawyers discussed the case Monday before General Sessions Court Judge Louis J. Montesi Jr. in hushed tones impossible to hear. Afterward, both Todd, R-Collierville, and his attorney Ted Hansom declined to comment. Prosecutor Byron Winsett confirmed the October 11 trial date.

Winsett is the top-level local prosecutor for public corruption and economic crimes. He said he’s handling the case because it involves a public official.

Todd — charged with theft of property under $500, a misdemeanor — was arrested two days before the August 4 primary election, which he went on to lose to Lovell. The arrest came after two instances where a Lovell backer photographed the state legislator removing the challenger’s signs. Lovell told Sheriff’s deputies hundreds of his sign were missing.

…Todd acknowledged taking the signs, but contended the landowner gave him exclusive rights to place signs at the property. He identified the owners as the Porters. An arrest affidavit written by Detective Sgt. B. Clark says he interviewed Joel Porter, who said Todd did not contact him, and no one had specific authorization to put signs on the property.

Rep. Daniel booked on assault charge

State. Rep. Martin Daniel was formally booked Thursday on a misdemeanor assault charge lodged against him last month for allegedly shoving his Republican primary opponent, according to the News Sentinel.

Daniel, 59, is charged with shoving Steve Hall during a July 21 on-air radio forum hosted by Hallerin Hilton Hill on WOKI-FM when the two candidates for the 18th District House Republican primary race began arguing.

…Hall, who previously held the House seat for two terms until Daniel ousted him in 2014, swore out a warrant against Daniel the following week, and publicly and repeatedly questioned Daniel’s mental health.

Daniel still went on to win the GOP primary Aug. 4 with 1,314 votes. He faces Democratic challenger Brandi Price in the Nov. 8 general election. Price has said she doesn’t plan to bring up the assault case “unless it needs to be brought up.”

Daniel and his lawyer, Gregory P. Isaacs, have insisted Daniel offered Hall a “heartfelt and sincere” apology and that the assault charge came as a surprise.

Hall, who came in second in the primary by 964 votes, has said he plans to continue to pursue the assault case.

Armstrong convicted, loses House seat

From the News Sentinel
After four days of testimony and five hours of deliberations, a federal jury served up one felony conviction for state Rep. Joe Armstrong on filing a false tax return and an acquittal on two other related felonies.

Armstrong, a 28-year veteran of the Legislature who just last week won his unopposed Democrat primary race, faces a maximum of three years in prison on the false tax return count, but sentencing guidelines likely will be lower.

The jury acquitted Armstrong of conspiring with his accountant, Charles Stivers, to defraud the IRS by hiding his windfall from a sin tax hike through Stivers’ investment firm and of evading taxes, which, unlike the false return charge, required a “willful,” or deliberate act.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Atchley Jr. said he will seek a prison term for Armstrong. Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips set a Nov. 30 sentencing hearing. Armstrong remains free under previous terms of his release.

Armstrong and defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs left U.S. District Court following the verdict’s announcement and did not take questions. Continue reading

Armstrong testimony: Deceived by lying accountant

From the News Sentinel
After nearly three hours on the witness stand Friday, State Rep. Joe Armstrong ended his testimony where his defense began four days earlier — he trusted an accountant who turned out to be a liar and a thief.

Armstrong testified in his own defense Friday in U.S. District Court where he is standing trial on charges he conspired with his longtime accountant, Charles Stivers, to cheat the IRS and hide from the public a windfall he made from a sin tax hike for which he voted.

Armstrong has maintained since the trial’s start Stivers, a confessed liar and thief, assured him taxes on the $321,000 windfall from a deal involving a 2007 cigarette tax stamp hike had been paid but instead stole the money. He repeated that assertion in both his direct testimony under questioning by defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs and cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Atchley Friday.

“Mr. Atchley, Mr. Stivers was my tax attorney,” Armstrong testified. “I believed in him. I’m telling you, I relied on Mr. Stivers.”

Armstrong began his testimony with an autobiography of a native Knoxville resident who worked to put himself through the University of Tennessee. His interest in politics began at age 23, when he worked for a local radio station and rubbed elbows with politicians. He was the first Democrat to win a slot as vice chairman of the Knox County Commission and has served in the state Legislature for 28 years. He is a married father of four.

“This is my 14th term,” he said, noting he won his primary as an unopposed candidate on Thursday, a day he spent in court. Continue reading

Rep. Lynn’s tweeting gets critique

State Rep. Susan Lynn, who distributed anti-Muslim material in the Legislature earlier this year, now now being criticized for Twitter comments, reports WSMV TV.

Lynn retweeted a CNN article with the headline “Khizr Khan: Donald Trump has a ‘black soul.'” She added her own comment, which read, “Well if a Muslim doesn’t want Trump, then we should.”

At least one colleague isn’t happy about the post. Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party Mary Mancini said she was disgusted.

“I think it has a bigoted undertone against all Muslims. Absolutely 100 percent,” Mancini said. “To disparage a family who lost their son fighting for their country based on their religion, it’s the very definition of what it is to be a bigot.” Continue reading

Rep. Todd arrested for sign theft; opponent pays bail

Longtime state Rep. Curry Todd was arrested on a theft warrant Tuesday in connection with removing opponents’ campaign signs from Collierville locations, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest at a Tuesday afternoon news conference. Todd, the incumbent in Thursday’s Republican Primary for the district seat, faces three challengers — Diane George, Mark Lovell and Dana Matheny.

The candidate whose signs were stolehn, Lovell, stepped forward to pay Todd’s $100 bond.

“Someone called me and said Curry Todd is still in jail and nobody’s posted his bond yet. I thought, we don’t need our state representative in jail. He can get out and the judge can decide what to do about it later,” Lovell said Tuesday night.

When asked whether he though Todd would repay the cost of the bond, Lovell said: “I don’t know. It’s like lending money to your nephews. You don’t expect to get it back. I figured it was a good deed.” Continue reading

AP story on opening day of Armstrong trial

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn — A longtime Tennessee state lawmaker parlayed his position of power to orchestrate a scheme to secretly reap more than $300,000 in untaxed earnings, federal prosecutors told jurors on the first day of Rep. Joe Armstrong’s trial on Tuesday.

But Armstrong’s attorney argued that the Knoxville Democrat did nothing illegal, and that he was the victim of a fraudulent accountant who became the government’s star witness in the case following a guilty plea.

The prosecution alleges that Armstrong bought the cigarette tax stamps before a state law tripling the levy — which the lawmaker advocated and voted for — went into effect, and later re-sold them for a big profit. That “bonanza” was not reported to the IRS and allowed Armstrong to fund an opulent lifestyle that included the purchase of a Mercedes, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Dale.

“Show Mr. Armstrong that he’s not above the law,” Dale urged the jury. Continue reading

TN Democratic convention notes: ‘bad sister,’ Andy Berke, Karl Dean, Bernie, etc.

‘She’s a bad sister’
State Rep. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis, at 32 one of the Tennessee legislature’s youngest members, got three minutes on stage at the convention Thursday — the first Tennessean to speak at a Democratic convention since 2008.

From The Tennessean report:

“My fellow young people — we have a choice, and it’s crystal clear! What side of history do we want to be on? Which political leader will we allow to define our generation?” she asked.

Akbari… suggested that Clinton would help fight for debt-free college for everyone, free community college and work to advance new “strategies” to combat the problems unique to those in her generation.

“Will you join me and support a leader who understands that the deep racial wounds of our country have not yet healed, but together we can work to be the change we wish to see in the world?” she asked, before plugging Clinton’s credentials, which date back to the former secretary of state’s law school days, work with the Children’s Defense Fund and her time as first lady.

“Come on y’all, she’s a bad sister!” Akbari said, going off script while reiterating a phrase she previously used when introducing Clinton at an event in Memphis last year. Continue reading

Draft petition would call special session Aug. 15

House Republican leaders are circulating a petition that would call a special session of the Legislature to expel Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham of Franklin and perhaps Democratic Rep. Joe Armstrong of Knoxville as well, reports The Tennessean.

House Speaker Beth Harwell, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada began circulating a formal petition empowering “the House of Representatives to consider and act upon a resolution to expel Jeremy Durham from his seat…” Two-thirds of the members of both chambers — 66 in the House and 22 in the Senate — are needed to convene the session at noon on August 15.

The action — the first concrete measure top Republican leaders have taken to get rid of Durham since he suspended his re-election campaign amid allegations of sexual harassment — could also pave the way for the removal of Armstrong, who was indicted last year on federal felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

“I spoke to the Speaker today and the call’s going to be for a special session and the purpose will be not only Jeremy Durham but Joe Armstrong,” Casada said Friday.

“We’ll take one at a time.There will be a resolution for both of them and the charges will be made and they can defend themselves. And that’s how it’ll go down.”

The petition, however, thus far contains no reference to Armstrong (whose trial on federal fraud and tax evasion charges is scheduled to begin Aug. 2).

…House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart said the inclusion of Armstrong is an effort by Republicans to avoid their duty.

“Casada and McCormick in the past have recognized that Armstrong is innocent until proven guilty and any effort to bring Armstrong into this before trial is the latest effort to avoid responsibility for Durham,” he said.

Duplicate petitions for the special session will be in the three House Republican leaders’ offices for lawmakers to sign, Casada said. The signature collection process is not expected to begin in the senate until after the House gets enough support.

As of Friday morning, Casada said he believes enough lawmakers will support the special session.

“I’ve talked to a handful of members and it’s been unanimous on those handful that I’ve talked to that they will come in and sign and call for it. So we’ll see,” Casada said.