President Barack Obama announced Thursday he is nominating Pete Mahurin, Michael McWherter and Joe H. Ritch to new terms on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Board of Directors.
All three were first appointed by Obama to the board in 2013. Ritch has beenchairman since 2014.
Ritch is an attorney with the law firm of Sirote & Permutt in Huntsville, Ala.
Mahurin of Bowling Green, Ky., has been with Hilliard Lyons Financial Services since 1968 and has been its chairman since 2008. He is also board chairman of the HL Financial Services Holding Co. and is a board member with Houchens Industries, Albany Bancorp, First Cecilian Bancorp, Gray Construction and Jackson Financial.
McWherter, son of former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter, is owner and president of Central Distributors Inc. and Volunteer Distributing Co. in Jackson. He has been chairman of the board of First State Bank of Union City, Tenn. and on the board of directors of the Jackson Energy Authority.
UPDATE/Note: An emailed statement from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander:
“Mike McWherter, Joe Ritch, and Pete Mahurin have helped TVA provide cheap, clean, reliable electricity to the seven-state Tennessee Valley region. I am glad the president submitted their nominations to serve additional five-year terms, and I look forward to supporting their confirmations so they can continue their good work on the TVA Board.”
TVA board member Mike McWherter is expected to be a major influence in picking three new member, reports Metro Pulse. The son of former Gov. Ned McWherter and the Democratic candidate for governor four years ago is said to have been consulted by the White House on who to pick.
State Capitol Hill sources say a front-runner for the board is likely former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. Naifeh was a protege of Ned McWherter’s when McWherter was Speaker of the House and Naifeh went on to become one of the longest-serving speakers in state history and one of its most powerful political figures. He served until the Republicans took over the House. He then engineered a coup putting Republican Kent Williams in as speaker with Democratic votes and his party retained committee chairs during Williams’ two-year tenure.
The White House was said to be displeased that the last round of Democratic board members deferred to Tennessee’s two Republican senators and retained Republican Bill Sansom as TVA chair. McWherter was the lone vote against Sansom.
Sansom and Barbara Haskew’s terms are up in May and Neil McBride left the board at the end of this past year. That leaves three positions to be filled in May.
Given the change in filibuster rules, whoever President Obama nominates will likely be confirmed—and possibly in a speedy manner by Senate standards.
Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe says in a column that Mike McWherter’s vote against extending the term of Bill Sansom as chairman of the TVA Board of Directors is “a public sign of the unrest and change which may be coming” for TVA.
Several board members are stunned to learn TVA General Counsel Ralph Rodgers is making $1.9 million a year. Most East Tennessee attorneys do not make a quarter of that amount in one year. An equally or more competent attorney could be employed for far less and save ratepayers money. Most people in Knoxville do not have a clue who Ralph Rodgers is.
..Neil McBride lost his TVA seat last week because President Obama failed to nominate anyone including McBride.
Sources tell me the White House will nominate three new persons to the board in the next few weeks or by May at the latest. One will replace McBride and the other two will replace Sansom, 72, and Barbara Haskew, 73, whose term also expires in May.
With three new members, the White House is apparently interested in having a board asking more questions in its public sessions and a chair who is actually a Democrat.
The Obama White House was stunned that the eight TVA board Democrats selected the only Republican to be chair. With the filibuster now gone, it is likely whoever Obama names will be confirmed.
Mike McWherter says he will not make a repeat run for governor next year – though he thinks the man who beat him in 2010 has brought a “culture of corruption” to state government – but his wife might run for the state Senate.
The son of the late former Gov. Ned McWherter, currently a member of the TVA Board of Directors appointed by President Obama, declared his non-interest in a rematch with Gov. Bill Haslam and his corruption concerns with the current administration in a Labor Day weekend speech to Roane County Democrats.
In an interview, he also disavowed any notion of running against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, though he publicly flirted with seeking the Democratic nomination to run against the incumbent Republican senator six years ago but acknowledged the interest of Mary Jane McWherter in running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney, D-Jackson.
“The last place in the world I want to be these days is Washington, D.C.,” he said. “I’m doing everything I can to recruit Democrats to run. But I’m not one of them myself.”
On the other hand, McWherter said he is trying to recruit his spouse his spouse – “I told her I’d do anything I could to encourage her” – to run for Finney’s seat. It’s one of just seven Senate slots now held by Democrats and one of two considered vulnerable to Republican takeover next year. Finney is not seeking reelection.
McWherter said there has been “a groundswell of people” joining him in the recruitment endeavor. She’s listening, he said, but undecided.
The TVA board seat, McWherter said, “has turned out to be a whole lot more involved than I ever dreamed it would be” – starting with the federal background checks “from my toenails to the top of my head” that established “I am squeaky clean.”
Mike McWherter, the 2010 Democratic nominee for governor who lost to Republican Bill Haslam, told Roane County Democrats last weekend that he’s not running against Haslam in his bid for reelection next year. But he blasted the incumbent for creating a “culture of corruption” within state government.
In the speech, McWherter links the federal investigation of Haslam-family-controlled Pilot Flying J and the seven guilty pleas by its former employees to “corporate fraud” charges with the Haslam administration’s approval of a trio of contracts with companies having some sort of tie to administration officials.
McWherter, currently a member of the TVA board of directors, harkens back to things he said in the 2010 campaign – deploring, for example, Pilot “price gouging,” which was depicted by Haslam then as basically honest mistakes, long since corrected – as exemplifying “a culture of corruption which management, at the very best, allowed.”
The federal investigation, he says, shows more of the same is afoot in the company.
“Now this same culture of corruption is invading state government at its highest level,” McWherter said in his prepared remarks,
Here’s the text of McWherter’s speech as provided after an inquiry (with editing in the form of inserting paragraph marks and correcting what seemed a typographical error):