A prominent business owner and political fundraiser has not paid property taxes on his corporate headquarters in at least eight years, reports WTVF-TV. Garry McNabb is the CEO and owner of Cash Express LLC, which has locations across the South. He has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to democratic and republican candidates. The corporate office of Cash Express LLC. is in Cookeville.
But Putnam County property records have listed the office building as being owned by the state of Tennessee — which is exempt from all property taxes.
No one has paid property taxes on the building since McNabb and three others bought it in 2004.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked McNabb “Why haven’t you paid property taxes on that property?”
McNabb responded, “Because the state has never sent me a bill.”
The property deed shows McNabb and others bought the building, which used to be an unemployment office, from the state of Tennessee.
But neither McNabb nor his partners registered the deed, so the building kept appearing on the tax rolls as state property.
News release from Secretary of State’s Office:
Tennessee’s public libraries will soon have more books available – cheaper and faster than before – thanks to a new interlibrary loan service set to debut next year.
The new Firefly Courier service, developed by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, will link rural, suburban and urban public libraries throughout the state, as well as libraries at colleges and universities.
The new courier service will allow libraries to request and receive books on loan from other libraries more quickly and more efficiently. Interlibrary loans, which previously were handled through the postal service, account for about 125,000 books checked out from Tennessee libraries each year.
The State Library and Archives, part of the Office of the Secretary of State, provides support and training for regional library systems across Tennessee.
“For many years, we have tried to reimburse libraries for their postage costs to support the interlibrary loan program,” State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill said. “We have been spending about $200,000 per year, but even that only covers about half the postage costs.”
Gov. Bill Haslam paid off on a “gentleman’s bet” by hosting a picnic and “pool party” for legislators at the executive residence, loaning one lawmaker a pair of his shorts for a post-party dip in the executive swimming pool.
Rep. Philip Johnson, R-Pegram, thanked Haslam and his wife, Crissy, for the party in a Wednesday House floor speech. Johnson said he and the governor made a bet last year on the when the 2011 legislative session would end with the stakes being that the loser would host a party for the entire Legislature.
Haslam lost, he said, but wasn’t able to arrange the “picnic-slash-pool party” until Tuesday evening.
State Rep. Eric Watson, at Friday night’s Lincoln Day Dinner at Cleveland High School, announced the Tennessee legislature passed a bill on Friday providing Olin Chlor Alkali Products in Bradley County a $160 million loan for a new state-of-the-art membrane cell manufacturing facility, according to the Cleveland Daily Banner. The construction will allow Olin to meet federal guidelines on eliminating the use of mercury in its manufacturing process.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty had earlier congratulated Olin on plans to invest the $160 million in its facilities. Construction began in July and is tentatively scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.
The technology change will allow the plant to meet the growing need for KOH that is important to the production of food, fertilizers, herbicides, soaps, detergents, airplane de-icing fluids and other key products. Once installation of the new technology is in place at the Charleston plant, mercury will not be a part of the manufacturing process.
The Olin facilities will have a capacity of 200,000 tons which will be used to produce chlorine, caustic soda, potassium hydroxide and related products.
Haslam said, “Olin is a well-respected corporate citizen in Bradley County, and we appreciate the company’s continued commitment to invest in the community. Established Tennessee companies such as Olin provide a solid foundation on which our state’s economy will continue to grow.”
“After almost 50 years in business, Olin is a great success story for Tennessee,” said Hagerty. “My department has renewed its focus on existing industries, because we understand they are by far the biggest job creators in the state. My thanks to Olin for choosing to retain these good, high-quality jobs in Tennessee.”
Olin president Frank Chirumbole said, “We are delighted to make this investment in the Charleston community, which has been home to our plant here since 1962. We are especially grateful to the state of Tennessee, which has provided generous incentives to assist with the financing of the project.”
(Note: Actually, the Legislature did not meet on Friday– unless there was a secret session I missed. Also missed seeing any such loan bill on the floor of either chamber last week.)
First-term U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is deflecting claims that he pushed to expedite a $2 billion loan guarantee for a uranium enrichment project — and tried to mislead people about it — despite criticizing the 2011 Solyndra debacle fueled by federal funding.
From the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: “I make no apologies for supporting a project that is not only vital to our national security, but will reduce our dependency on foreign oil and create jobs here in Tennessee,” DesJarlais, R-Jasper, said in a written statement.
“Unfortunately, the Department of Energy has grossly mismanaged the loan guarantee program. Clearly we need to find a more efficient way to decide how we distribute these funds.
“It seems there are those that are more interested in defending President Obama’s failed Solyndra decision than ensuring that a proven technology that is critical to both our nation’s defense and energy production is not held up due to burdensome government bureaucracy,” DesJarlais stated.
A USA Today article reported that DesJarlais signed on to two letters in 2011 pushing for a decision on a loan guarantee for the American Centrifuge project and asking that funds be freed up for it, but then notified Energy Secretary Steven Chu in early March that he didn’t ask the department to expedite loan guarantees to benefit a project in his district.
State Sen. Eric Stewart, a Belvidere Democrat running against DesJarlais for the 4th Congressional District seat, called DesJarlais’ actions a “double standard,” pointing out he had no problem blasting the DOE over Solyndra while he was pushing a project for his own district.
DesJarlais, who could represent Rutherford County beginning next year in the newly-drawn 4th District, was one of several legislators who wrote Jacob J. Lews, director of Office of Management and Budget, on May 13, 2011, urging him to “make rapid completion of USEC Inc.’s loan guarantee application for American Centrifuge a top priority for the Office of Management and Budget.”
Note: Previous post HERE
Republican members of Congress investigating federal loan guarantees to now-bankrupt energy companies told Energy Secretary Steven Chu last week that they never asked him to speed up similar projects in their states, according to USA Today. But that’s exactly what some did, according to a review of 484 congressional support letters obtained by USA TODAY. Some letters, for example, urged quick approval of a $2 billion loan guarantee for the American Centrifuge, a uranium enrichment project projected to create hundreds of jobs in states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
“It is imperative that this application move forward now,” said a letter signed by five members of Congress, including Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa.
“Any delays put the project at risk,” said a letter to the Office of Management and Budget signed by 15 members, including Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., and Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C.
And even as late as Nov. 4, DesJarlais signed on to another letter saying “quick action is paramount” and asking for “immediate action on funding.”
That was two months after the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra despite a $535 million federal loan guarantee. Solyndra’s failure prompted Congress to hold hearings about pressure by the White House to speed up a decision on the loan guarantee so that Vice President Biden could announce it.
At one hearing last Nov. 17, Chu testified that he had received nearly 500 letters from members of Congress supporting the loan programs. “We appreciate the support that the loan programs receive from many members of Congress who have urged us to accelerate our efforts and to fund worthy projects in their states,” he told a House subcommittee.
But in a letter to Chu last week, 19 GOP members of Congress — including Pitts, DesJarlais and Myrick — defended those letters, accusing Chu of “intentionally making misguided and far-reaching statements to cover your own failures.”
“These letters should in no way give you and your staff the belief that members are specifically asking you to ‘accelerate’ taxpayer funds and push them out the door without proper oversight,” they wrote.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., crafted that letter. She said in an interview that the main point was to request information about the decision-making process that led to the failed loans. And while she did not send letters supporting loan guarantees, she also defended members who did write Chu.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers was investing $50,000 in a Macon County newspaper, not making a loan of that amount to the publisher, according to a response filed in a lawsuit Beavers has brought for collection of the money.
From Andy Sher’s report: “Co-plaintiff Mae Beavers delivered said cashier’s check to Defendant (Kathryn) Belle for the specific purpose of investing in the venture and to make payment of the May 21, 2010 installment [payment] due to Main Street Media for purchase of the Macon County Chronicle,” the filing says.
It also alleges that Lou Ann Zelnick, a Republican who made a failed 2010 GOP 5th Congressional District primary bid, “invested” $36,000 in the newspaper venture as well.
…. (Beavers, in an interview) called the lawsuit a “personal matter.”
Asked about suggestions the money was not a loan but an investment, Beavers said, “I don’t believe that’s what the lawsuit said.”
Beavers said “yes” when asked if the $50,000 was intended as a loan.
Meanwhile, Beavers on Monday filed an amended Statement of Interests form with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. Her original State of Interests form, filed Jan. 30, did not mention the loan or the 6 percent her lawsuit cites as interest under the category “sources of income.”
Her new filing lists “Kathryne Bell — pass through interest on personal loan — no actual income.”
It also lists Bell’s nephew, John Cook, with the explanation “pass through interest on personal loan — no actual income.”
(Previous post HERE)
Gov. Bill Haslam has sold his stake in a multimillion-dollar loan guarantee to a prominent Knoxville developer, reports the Tennessean. The sale came three days after an earlier story on the original transactiion, though the buyer says it had been contemplated for some time. In 2009, while he was mayor of Knoxville, Haslam personally guaranteed a loan of up to $5.5 million to local developer Budd Cullom. The arrangement was never plainly listed on Haslam’s annual ethics disclosure forms and the governor said it was not required.
…Haslam also amended his 2009 ethics form last week to reflect the multimillion-dollar sale of his stake in a national pawnshop chain. The transaction was omitted on his original form filed with the state Ethics Commission. One of Haslam’s first acts as governor was to roll back disclosure requirements, so it’s unknown how much he earned from selling his stock in EZ Corp, a Texas-based company that owned two pawnshops in Knoxville.
Haslam spokesman Dave Smith said the governor could not comment on the loan transaction because his investments are managed by a blind trust.
“Also, we’ve said before he was never very involved in day-to-day management even before the blind trust was established,” Smith said.
According to a financial statement filed with the secretary of state, Haslam assigned the loan guarantee on June 29 to Strategic Equity Partners. The Knoxville firm is owned by Raja Jubran, who said he has maintained a personal and social relationship with Haslam for 12 years. The amount Jubran paid for the assignment was not disclosed.
Cullom said he and Jubran had discussed the sale of the guarantee earlier this year and he had assented.
Jubran indicated the timing of the transaction three days after the initial report was a coincidence. Jubran said he had talked with Haslam about purchasing the loan guarantee in November.
According to Jubran, he dealt with the blind trust once Haslam was elected governor.
“I have also done business with him before he was governor,” Jubran said. “Last November I discussed with him purchasing this guarantee from him. Since he became governor, I dealt with his blind trust and it took some time to close the transaction.”
Jubran and his wife combined to contribute $10,000 to Haslam’s gubernatorial campaign. Other members of the Jubran family donated an additional $15,000.
Rep. Stephen Fincher and federal election officials agree on this much: The Tennessee Republican violated campaign finance laws last year by inadvertently misreporting the source of a $250,000 bank loan to his campaign. But they disagree on a central question in the now-closed case: Could he have corrected the error more quickly?
Further excerpt from a Jackson Sun story on the matter: Elliot Berke, Fincher’s campaign lawyer, says no.
Democratic members of the Federal Election Commission disagree. In June, they voted to fine Fincher, R-Frog Jump, saying his campaign committee had “failed to take prompt corrective action,” according to a statement they released last week.
That statement was among documents released after the FEC’s six commissioners — three Democrats and three Republicans — deadlocked June 14 on whether to fine Fincher up to $7,500.
In one vote, the three Democrats voted for a fine. In another, the three Republicans voted for a warning letter instead of a fine. Four votes are needed to impose a penalty.
Ultimately, the commission voted 5-1 to dismiss the case. In FEC campaign finance reports filed in July last year, Fincher said the loan came from personal funds. In fact, it came from Gates Banking and Trust Co., according to a legal analysis written by FEC lawyers and released last week.
According to the Chattanooga Times-Free Presss, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday demanded the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce say how and where the agency spent $545,000 in federal dollars on a Business Solutions Center that’s never been built. And the holder of a separate $574,000 loan to the minority chamber said a decision could be made within days whether to foreclose on two of the chamber’s five properties on M.L. King Boulevard.
HUD spokesman Joe Phillips said the department is seeking documentation such as bills and invoices spelling out how the chamber spent the $545,000 grant it received in 2005 and 2006.
He said the Multicultural Chamber has 15 days to respond when it receives HUD’s letter of inquiry. He referred all other questions to the HUD Office of Inspector General, where a spokesman Wednesday said the office had no immediate comment.
David Johnson, president of Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise and Chattanooga Community Development Financial Institution, said the FBI has asked him about the $574,000 loan the financial institution made to the chamber in 2008 to help develop the business center.
“I asked if the CDFI or staff was the target of an investigation,” Johnson said. “The answer was no.”
He said the FBI asked about Multicultural Chamber Executive Director Sherrie Gilchrist’s involvement at a September board meeting where the loan was approved. Gilchrist serves on the CCDFI board.