Tag Archives: matters

Registry Dismisses ‘Conduit’ Charges Against Two PACs

The board that enforces Tennessee’s campaign finance law voted Tuesday against imposing any penalties in two cases where political action committees were accused of illegally sidestepping limits on how much money can be given to candidates for the state Legislature.
In one case, Andrew Miller Jr., a Nashville businessman, set up Truth Matters PAC in July and gave it $71,000. The PAC then contributed to 10 legislative campaigns, including eight that had already received the maximum allowable donation from Miller as an individual.
Registry of Election Finance staff had raised the possibility that the PAC had been used as an illegal “conduit,” allowing Miller to bypass the limits on campaign contributions he could give the candidates as an individual.
Miller, attorney James Weaver and Tracy Miller, Andrew’s brother and treasurer of the PAC, told the Registry board they could understand the suspicion. But they said that, looking outside the “snapshot” period of the covered by the Truth Matters’ first report, the PACs activities showed Miller had obtained pledges of contributions from others before the filing and they did, in fact, contribute to the PAC after the filing.
“If I’m guilty of anything, it’s getting in a rush,” said Miller, referring to his failure to wait until others contributed to the PAC before sending PAC donations to candidates he supported.
Registry board member Lee Anne Murray said she understood that an intent to bypass campaign limits was necessary to impose a penalty and the statements by Miller and a man who intended to contribute earlier showed their was no intent to act as a conduit. Member Henry Fincher disagreed, saying the PAC had actually acted as a conduit bypassing campaign donation limits though Miller appeared “a nice guy” who was not trying to act illegally.
Fincher said that :when the next guy, who is not so nice,” does the same thing, he will be able to argue as a precedent, “Well, Andy Miller did it. Why not I?”
The board voted 4-2 against imposing any penalties. The board’s newest member, Norma Lester of Memphis, joined Fincher in voting no on the motion to dismiss.
In the other case, Green PAC was set up by Mark Green, a candidate for state Senate from Clarksville. The PAC had three donors – Green making a $250 contribution and two other men making a total of $8,000 in donations. The PAC then donated $8,000 to Green, the only candidate to get a contribution during the PAC’s first reporting period.
Rachel Barrett, treasurer of the PAC, told the Registry that Green PAC received contributions from other people after the reporting period and also gave money to multiple candidates later. Only Fincher voted no on the motion to dismiss a complaint that had been filed by Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action.

Registry Delays Decision on Miller’s PAC as a ‘Conduit’

A Nashville businessman told the Registry of Election Finance board Wednesday that he had counted on others to join him in financing a political action committee and conceded that their failure to do so raised the appearance that he has violated state law.
Disclosures filed prior to the Aug. 2 primary election show Andrew Miller as the sole contributor to Truth Matters PAC. The PAC was created July 10 and Miller, president of HealthMark Ventures, gave it $71,000.
At the time, Miller as an individual had already given the $1,400 maximum contribution allowed under state law to eight candidates for the state Legislature. The PAC then gave contributions of up $7,100 to the eight candidates.
Recipients in East Tennessee included Reps. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and Jeremy Faision, R-Cosby; along with Republican primary winning candidates Timothy Hill of Blountville and Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough.
Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, told the Registry board that his staff believed the moves raised the question of whether Miller used the PAC as an illegal “conduit” to circumvent the limits on how much money can be given to candidates.

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Andrew Miller: PAC Donations ‘a Timing Issue’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state board that regulates campaign finance in Tennessee has launched an investigation to determine whether a Middle Tennessee health care investor used a political action committee he funded to skirt the law limiting campaign contributions.
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance sent letters this week to Andrew Miller of Nashville and the Truth Matters PAC. The letters say the board is looking into whether Miller used the PAC as a conduit to exceed the $1,400 per election limit on individual donations to a single campaign.
Registry records show that Miller was the only contributor to the PAC, donating $71,000 to it in July. The PAC contributed to 10 legislative campaigns. Eight of the candidates, including three lawmakers, also reported receiving contributions totaling $11,300 this year from Miller.
If the investigation finds that the PAC was a conduit, the registry can levy fines that exceed the amount of the donations against Miller, the PAC and its treasurer, Tracy Miller, who is Andrew Miller’s brother. The campaigns also would be forced to return the donations.

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