Tag Archives: lobbyist

Jack Daniel’s wins Tennessee Whiskey lobbying war (again — for now)

whiskey
(Charlie Daniel cartoon)

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jack Daniel’s has turned back the latest challenge to a state law that determines which spirits can be marketed as “Tennessee Whiskey,” but upstart distillers hoping their brands make the cut vow the fight isn’t over for good.

Opponents of the law enacted at the behest of Jack Daniel’s in 2013 said they withdrew their repeal measure Tuesday to try to generate more support before next year’s legislative session. But Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett declared the proposal dead.

“What it shows is that that dog won’t hunt — and it never will,” Arnett said. “We’ve put a stake in in this, and consider it to be over.”

The subsidiary of Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown-Forman Corp. is by far the dominant player in the Tennessee whiskey field, producing 11.5 million cases in 2014. The next largest producer, George Dickel, makes about 130,000 cases per year, while most of the state’s other 32 licensed distilleries have yet to bring a Tennessee whiskey to market.

Jack Daniel’s says the law ensures minimum quality standards, but some smaller distillers chafed at its requirement to filter spirits through charcoal and store them in unused oak barrels in order to label them Tennessee whiskey.

Michael Ballard, owner of the Full Throttle distillery in the northwest Tennessee town of Trimble, said Arnett and Jack Daniel’s has been acting like a “bully” by demanding every new producer follow the technique known as the “Lincoln County Process.”
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Tom Ingram identified as ‘campaign consultant to the governor’ in some ethics filings

Though Gov. Bill Haslam’s personal payments to Tom Ingram over the past two years have been repeatedly described as covering non-political consulting, Ingram has elsewhere depicted his relationship with the governor as “campaign consultant” and “political consultant,” reports Andy Sher.

A review of Ingram’s 17 state lobbyist registrations with the Tennessee Ethics Commission turns up three instances in the past 22 months in which Ingram’s relationship with Haslam is identified as either “campaign consultant to the governor” or “consultant to campaign for governor.”

Filings involved were Ingram’s 2012 and 2013 registrations for Xerox Corp. and a 2013 filing for McGuiness Group.
Ingram disclosed the relationship under a provision requiring lobbyists to disclose what “business arrangements” they have with government officials.

In his other registrations, Ingram described his relationship with the governor in terms such as “consultant,” “general consultant,” “independent consultant” and sometimes as “political consultant.”

Ingram said… he didn’t file the disclosures himself, noting they’re “filed on a pro forma basis,” indicating it was done by someone else at The Ingram Group, the public affairs and strategic consulting firm that bears his name.

…Former Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said he plans to look at the registrations before he refiles a complaint against Haslam, a Republican, later this month with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

“I intend to review that and certainly give those [registrations] consideration” as he gathers documents to restate his case, which registry members dismissed this month, Forrester said.

“If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck it is a duck. This is hair-splitting by the governor,” said Forrester, who alleges Haslam broke the law by paying Ingram personally instead of from his campaign account, which is publicly disclosed.

…Ingram said Friday he had properly disclosed his business arrangement with Haslam all along as required and none of his paid work involved the 2014 campaign.

As for the three registrations, he said “whatever it said, we said. But whatever we did, we did.”

Another Late Lobbyist Registration for Tom Ingram

Tom Ingram and another executive with his influential lobbying firm worked with Mayor Karl Dean’s office more than a month ago to put together an incentive package for the television show “Nashville” but didn’t register with the city as lobbyists at the time, according to The Tennessean..
On June 24, Dean announced $500,000 in incentives, pending Metro Council approval, to keep the ABC drama filming here.
Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said officials in the mayor’s office communicated with Ingram and fellow Ingram Group executive Sam Reed when negotiating the incentive deal. Ingram Group has long been the lobbyist for Gaylord Entertainment, now Ryman Hospitality Partners, which is one of the show’s executive producers.
The Metro code defines lobbying as communicating “directly or indirectly, with any official in the legislative branch or executive branch for pay or for any consideration, for the purpose of influencing any legislative action or administrative action.”
Last week, Reed and another Ingram Group lobbyist, Marcille Durham, registered with the city as representing Ryman. Ingram has not registered.
But government transparency expert Dick Williams, chairman of the nonprofit group Common Cause Tennessee, said Ingram and Reed should have registered with the city when it was negotiating, based on lobbying disclosure requirements

Sunday column: Louie Lobbyist’s Privatization Plan

Louie Lobbyist came by the cubicle the other day and, after making a couple of insulting remarks about the clutter, asked if we could speak privately for a moment. Sure, I said, and we walked across the hall to an empty legislative committee room.
“What’s the governor paying Tom Ingram?” he asked as we settled into the staff seats in the center of the room.
An undisclosed sum, I replied. How should I know? Tom was paid out of the governor’s own pocket until July 1, when he went on campaign payroll. That will be reported next Jan. 31 or so. But the governor tells us media types none-ya (none of your business) when his own money is involved.
“Yeah,” Louie said, “but you looked at those campaign reports back in 2010. So what was he paid then? I figure Haslam would pay about the same thing now as he did then.”
Well, not necessarily. The governor has explained that he speaks with Tom about governmental matters mostly — “organizational” was one of his words — and political stuff comes up only on the periphery, and so it would be very difficult for him to parse that out and report it as a political expenditure.

Jones Lang LaSalle Contracts With Nashville Lobbyist

The Chicago-based company that holds a controversial multimillion-dollar contract to manage state government buildings and leases has hired a lobbyist who formerly worked for House Speaker Beth Harwell and the state Republican Party.
Gregory Gleaves registered June 18 as lobbyist for Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle, according to the Tennessee Ethics Commission website. That was about the time media reports emerged on how the company’s dealings with the state expanded from an initial $1 million study of state buildings into a contract worth up to $330 million, prompting legislative leaders to say they’ll have a committee look into the matter.
“Obviously Jones Lang LaSalle has gotten some attention lately,” Gleaves said in an email response to an inquiry about his new lobbying position. “My job is to ensure that what they are doing for the state is clearly understood. Jones Lang LaSalle is helping the state in its vision to save money for Tennessee taxpayers. I am pleased to play a role in telling that story.”
Gleaves was executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party when hired by Harwell as her chief of staff in 2011. He stepped down in July 2012, to become a lobbyist with Hall Strategies, which declared in a news release that he “spearheaded efforts that led to dramatic change in Tennessee politics” while at the state GOP.

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TN Ethics Commission To Hold Hearing on Ingram Lobbying

The Tennessee Ethics Commission voted Monday to hold a hearing on whether veteran political operative Tom Ingram violated state lobbying laws along with one of his associates at The Ingram Group and one of their clients.
Ingram, political consultant to Gov. Bill Haslam as well as U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and Marcille Durham, president of The Ingram Group, have acknowledged they failed to register as lobbyists for Hillsborough Resources Ltd., which wants to mine coal on Catoosa Wildlife Management Area near Crossville.
The Commission discussed Monday what action to take after receiving two letters and a check for $600 to cover two years of lobbyist registration fees for Ingram and Durham. The two also met with members of the agency staff last week.
“I think we – and the state of Tennessee – are due an explanation of what happened here,” said James S. Stranch III, chairman of the commission.
The commission voted 4-0 to hold a “show cause hearing,” which basically gives those suspected of violating the law an opportunity to explain why they should not be subject to a civil penalty. One member, John Gregory Hardeman, recused himself from the vote, saying he knew both Ingram and Durham.

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Lobbyist/Consultant Ingram Could Face Civil Penalty; Ties With Governor a Conflict?

Tom Ingram, veteran consultant to both Gov. Bill Haslam and Pilot Flying J, faces a potential civil penalty for failing for three years to register as required by law as a lobbyist for a company that wants to mine coal on state-owned land near Crossville.
Ingram said Wednesday the failure to register was “inadvertent on Marcelle’s part,” a reference to Marcelle Durham, president of The Ingram Group, the public relations and lobbying firm that Ingram founded and operates.
Durham has written a letter to the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance acknowleding the “inadvertent oversight” and declaring she will submit belated lobbyist registrations for three years of lobbying for Hillsborough Resources Inc., which is negotiating with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to mine for coal on Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. (For copy of the letter, click on this link: Durham_Letter.pdf
In an interview, Ingram said is is careful to balance his lobbying work with his role as a consultant to Gov. Bill Haslam and to Pilot Flying J and does not see any conflicts of interest. (Note: WTVF story on Ingram lobbying HERE.)
His latest role, as Ingram described it, is “managing communications on the investigation” by the FBI into allegations that Pilot Flying J cheated some trucking companies in billings for diesel fuel. Ingram said he is actually retained in that role by Neal and Harwell, the law firm hired by Pilot Flying J.

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Former State GOP Executive Director Gets Lobbying Gig

News release from Capitol Resources:
(Nashville, TN)- Capitol Resources, the South’s leading government relations and lobbying firm, with offices across the region, is pleased to announce Tennessee Republican Party Executive Director Adam Nickas will head the firm’s office in the Volunteer State.
Nickas led the Tennessee Republican Party’s highly successful effort to expand the Republican majority in the Tennessee General Assembly, and he has worked on local, state and federal campaigns throughout the region.
Capitol Resources is one of the largest and most versatile state-based lobbying firms in the country, with offices in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.
“Adam is an excellent fit for Capitol Resources,” said Henry Barbour, a partner in the firm. “His leadership is proven and his drive is unquestioned. The GOP gains in the Tennessee statehouse were noticed around the country, and he will be a tremendous asset to our clients.”
“Capitol Resources has an established reputation for excellent service to its clients throughout the South,” said Nickas. “I look forward to helping our clients achieve their objectives and working closely with the leaders and members of the Tennessee General Assembly and the Tennessee Executive Branch.”

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Jerry Winters Leaves TEA

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The chief lobbyist for the state’s largest teachers union is leaving the position this month.
Jerry Winters has represented the Tennessee Education Association at the state Capitol for over 30 years. His last day is Dec. 14.
Winters says he will continue to have a presence at the Legislature as an independent consultant and lobbyist.
He says he believes his years of experience at the Capitol give him some unique insights that may be helpful to others as they navigate the legislative process.

New Lobbying Firm Formed

News release from Windrow Phillips Group:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee government-relations veterans Anna Durham Windrow and Bill R. Phillips today announced they are forming the Windrow Phillips Group, a new firm offering a range of services to clients with issues involving state government.
In making the announcement, Windrow and Phillips formalized an existing strategic partnership and merged their practices under the same professional banner. The Windrow Phillips Group represents leading businesses and employers including: Amazon.com, Bank of America, CRC Health, Evergreen Packaging, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, and Western Union.
“We’re pleased to make this partnership official,” Windrow said. “Bill Phillips brings decades of strategic experience in government and politics, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the years ahead.” For his part, Phillips added: “Anna Windrow is one of the most respected government-relations professionals working with the Tennessee General Assembly and on Capitol Hill. We make a great team.”
The Windrow Phillips Group will be based in the Nashville City Center, overlooking the Tennessee State Capitol and Legislative Plaza. Also joining the firm as a member is Baylor Bone Swindell, an attorney who has worked on Capitol Hill for a decade. Combined, the firm has more than 75 years of government and political experience.
Phillips brings a depth in front-line experience in politics and government, including stints as: campaign manager; press secretary; chief of staff to former Gov. Bob List of Nevada; chief of staff at the Republican National Committee; chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education; manager of the 1988 Republican National Convention; and deputy director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under former President George H.W. Bush.
Most recently, Phillips served as Nashville’s deputy mayor from 1999 to 2007. He is a former associate vice chancellor of university relations for Vanderbilt University and former visiting professional scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center where co-authored the book “Nothing Sacred: Journalism, Politics and Public Trust in a Tell-All Age.” Phillips will continue to represent clients at the local government level.
Windrow, who served as the senior advisor to former Gov. Phil Bredesen, has worked in politics and government relations in Tennessee for most of her career. She began in public affairs for First American National Bank and later worked for former U.S. Senator Jim Sasser on his campaign and Senate staff. She served as executive director of the Tennessee Building Materials Association and worked for a decade as legislative director for the Nashville law firm Bass Berry & Sims. Windrow has overseen her own government relations practice for over 15 years.