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.
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
News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy offers some thoughts on the secrecy surrounding Amazon’s dealings with the state on tax collections and the Department of Revenue’s private letter ruling policy.
In fact, a legal agreement apparently does exist between the state and Amazon, a document called a “private letter ruling,” which was issued to the retailer by the state Department of Revenue.
What it says, though, we citizens don’t know. Details of private letter rulings — such as who’s involved — are secret.
There’s a reason for that. Private letter rulings are confidential communications between taxing authorities and individual taxpayers about their tax liability. As the name says, they are private, just as tax returns are.
Often such rulings occur at the federal level. A taxpayer can request a private letter ruling to find out how the IRS will treat a particular transaction. The IRS website explains:
“A private letter ruling, or PLR, is a written statement issued to a taxpayer that interprets and applies tax laws to the taxpayer’s specific set of facts.”
The key word there is “laws.” A PLR interprets and applies the laws; it doesn’t rewrite or bend them to make special deals go through.
Stop and think. How it would be if the IRS based its interpretation of the tax code on handshake deals the president made with individual companies?
Yet that, apparently, is what has happened in Tennessee. One governor, Bredesen, promised Amazon a favorable tax ruling, and the revenue commissioner delivered. Now another governor, Haslam, wants to renegotiate that ruling, perhaps by limiting it to a few years
But how can the law be open to such negotiations?
…Secretly twisting the tax code to benefit one company is a bad approach to business recruiting, and one that ultimately will prove destructive.