A Chattanooga businesswoman has been named by House Speaker Beth Harwell to fill a vacant director position on the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Robin Bennett currently serves as a vice president and financial center manager for First Tennessee and, according to Harwell, brings to the agency experience in customer relations, business management and federal and regulatory compliance.
Bennett replaces Sara Kyle, who resigned from the TRA in March. The agency regulates investor-owned water and electric utilities, as well as some telephone services.
The mission of the TRA is to promote the public interest by balancing the interests of consumers and monopoly utilities.
Two elected officials in Anderson County with Republican ties were sent letters by the GOP’s executive committee asking why they should not be banned from partisan activities and voting in Republican primaries as a result of supporting Democrat Warren Gooch for county mayor in the August election, reports Georgiana Vines.. The two are Robin Biloski, vice chair of the Anderson County Commission, and Angi Agle, treasurer of the Oak Ridge school board, both nonpartisan positions. Agle is a former GOP Anderson County chair. Biloski is known as a Republican who frequently supports Democrats.
Alex Moseley, Anderson County Republican Party chairman, said Friday the executive committee voted in the summer to send letters banning the two from party activities or party-reorganizational meetings, seeking any local office as a Republican and voting in Republican primaries.
“It is not the position of the party that we should force our members to vote for any candidate, but activities that are designed to split party vote are clearly unacceptable,” Moseley said in the letter.
The letter was not sent until after the November elections because Agle was in a re-election campaign, Moseley said.
The August county mayor’s race was won by Terry Frank, whose mother, Ann Phillips, and chief of staff, Richard Burroughs, are on the GOP Executive Committee. Moseley said the two were not on the committee at the time of the vote on the letter.
Originally, Biloski and Agle were asked to meet with the committee next Tuesday, but Moseley sent a second letter canceling the meeting and asking that they send letters with their explanations.
“I am so flabbergasted that I would be reprimanded by any group for supporting my candidate, which is my personal choice and to me the best person to lead Anderson County,” Biloski said Friday.
In a sign that the apocalypse could occur on schedule this December, the Chattanooga TFP says, Republican Robin Smith and Democrat Albert Waterhouse have together formed a new consulting agency, SmithWaterhouse Strategies. Smith, a Republican strategist (and former state Republican chairman) who mounted an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2010, will maintain her focus on project management, while Waterhouse — a staunch Democrat and well-known political consultant — will continue his work in public relations and crisis management.
The difference is that now, they’ll be working toward the same goals.
“Regardless of how we feel personally, you cannot get things done without bringing all options to the table,” Waterhouse said.
Smith agreed with her political opponent.
“Congress should take heart if two partisan nemeses in Chattanooga can come together,” she said Tuesday.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Former state Republican Party Chairwoman Robin Smith said Friday she won’t make another run for Congress next year.
Smith, who narrowly lost the GOP nomination to the 3rd District to eventual winner Chuck Fleischmann last year, told WGOW-AM in Chattanooga that she wants to focus on business opportunities.
“I don’t wake up every morning with a desire for revenge,” Smith said.
Fleishmann is facing a challenge from 24-year-old Weston Wamp, the son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp. The elder Wamp retired from Congress to make an unsuccessful bid for governor last year.
Smith said she doesn’t plan to make an endorsement in the race.
The 3rd District stretches from Chattanooga on the Georgia border north past Oak Ridge before curling east around Knox County and touching the Kentucky border. Redistricting could significantly alter the shape of the district.
“The new district for 2012 will be very favorable for a challenger for this incumbent,” Smith said. “It’s going to be more concise, it’s going to involve most likely just one media market.
“So there were things that were very hard for me to walk away from on a personal emotional level.”
Smith didn’t rule out making a renewed bid for Congress in 2014.
— Note: Robin Smith’s news release is available below
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is now a defendant in a lawsuit alleging that Chip Saltsman, his chief of staff, defamed and slandered an aide for the congressman’s top rival during last year’s Republican primary, according to the Chattanooga TFP.. “As Chuck Fleisch-mann’s lackey, Mr. Saltsman acted only upon the instruction and approval of Chuck Fleischmann and on his behalf,” said a court filing for Mark Winslow, the former aide to Robin Smith.
Financial disclosures show Fleischmann’s campaign has already paid $7,565.38 to the Nashville law firm defending Saltsman, raising the question of whether a sitting congressman can use campaign donations for his own legal defense.
Jordan Powell, a spokesman for Fleischmann, said the congressman “was advised by counsel not to comment on any pending litigation.” Earlier this year,
Fleischmann’s office consulted with the federal agency that oversees election law. In a May 26 advisory opinion, the Federal Election Commission determined the Saltsman legal expenditures were campaign-related and not for “personal use.” The opinion did not address whether a congressman is allowed to use such funds, but it hinted at the issue.
…Fleischmann became a defendant in Winslow’s lawsuit about the same time Smith, the former chairwoman of the state Republican Party, began talking publicly about challenging the congressman again. In an interview, Smith said she’ll make a decision about whether she’ll run in 2012 within the next few weeks. She said she wouldn’t rule out hiring Winslow for a rematch.
Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischman declined to be interviewed by the Chattanooga TFP on his reelection campaign fundraising and two potential primary opponents, but the newspaper reports some contrast in statements made by the congressman and his staff. “Today is the last day of the quarter,” Fleischmann’s Facebook page said on June 30. “Just a few contributions short of our goal. Will you help me reach it today?”
Last week, Fleischmann’s staff issued a statement saying the congressman was “not thinking about politics.”
But the report to the Federal Election Commission showed he raised $147,040 in the quarter, including about $44,500 from political action committees. The report showed the campaign has $261,470 in cash on hand and $250,000 in debt.
In a news release Friday, Fleischmann said he was “thankful for everyone who has stepped up this early to express their support for the work I am doing in Congress.”
…Robin Smith and Weston Wamp, two Republicans who have expressed interest in Fleischmann’s seat, have not yet declared candidacies, but Smith reported a $2,610 self-donation Friday.
…”We’re still paying off a few relatively small debts [$30,898] for the 2010 cycle,” said (Smith Treasurer) Oscar Brock. “What she’s told me is that she won’t make a decision until the end of the year. Maybe next year.”
Wamp, 24, is the son of former Rep. Zach Wamp, …said Friday he’s received a “tremendous amount of support from the business community” to explore a run for his father’s old seat, but hasn’t made a firm decision.
Tennessee Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester says party is by no means giving up on congressional contests after getting their political teeth kicked in during 2010 elections. But he acknowledges in an Andy Sher story that things aren’t easy with Republicans calling the shots in a redistricting process that won’t take place until January. “We’re certainly talking to people in a number of the congressional district races,” Forrester said. “But it is hard until you know what your playing field is going to look like to get people.”
In 2010, Democrats went from controlling five of the state’s nine congressional seats to just two seats, losing two open Democratic seats in the 6th and 8th Congressional Districts as well as Democrat U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis in the 4th Congressional District. More importantly, Republicans seized total control of the General Assembly, which draws state and federal lines in the once-a-decade exercise of redistricting.
…Tackling Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., will be a “tall order,” Forrester conceded, but noted “we are continuing to talk to people,” although he isn’t saying who.
Forrester sees the possibility of hard-fought Republican primary contests as offering a potential opening for a “moderate Democrat” in congressional races. Two such GOP primary battles may be shaping up already – a rematch between former state Republican Chairman Robin Smith and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in the 3rd District and, if redistricting goes as some expect, a clash between state Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro and Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th District.