Tag Archives: Ron Ramsey

Harwell, Haslam back new rules on investing campaign funds

House Speaker Beth Harwell says she’s having legislation drafted to put some rules in place for legislators investing campaign funds in private companies, reports The Tennessean. Gov. Bill Haslam says he’d support additional disclosure of investments.

This comes as the Registry of Election Finance is investigating former state Rep. Jeremy Durham’s investment of campaign money in a company owned by Andy Miller, a well-known GOP donor who’s given money to Durham in the past.

“The governor believes it is good policy to disclose campaign investments just like personal disclosures made annually to the Tennessee Ethics Commission,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals. The personal disclosures require public officials to report any investments worth $10,000 or more.

Harwell, R-Nashville, state Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Marvylle, and Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, said separately there should be more transparency and regulations when Tennessee public officials invest their campaign funds.

“I do not personally believe campaign contributions should be invested in private companies. I have directed our legal staff to research these issues and work with the Registry of Election Finance to identify the best remedy, so that legislation can be introduced to address it,” Harwell said in an email Monday.

“I believe in and support full disclosure and transparency in our campaign finance reports, and will always support legislation to that end. We should always strive to keep up to date on best practices, and I will be supportive of legislation seeking to address increased transparency or regulations on gift-giving or investments.”

…Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, agreed there should be more transparency but didn’t go as far as to suggest legislation.
“I think it is entirely appropriate that we require full disclosure of a campaign’s investments and interests, just as we do for personal interests and investments,” the retiring lawmaker said.

“While investments in campaign accounts should be permissible, they should be limited to investments that are public and available to all — publicly-traded stocks, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, etc. — to eliminate even the appearance of undue influence.”

Lundberg wins Ramsey’s state Senate seat

Tennessee state Rep. Jon Lundberg will replace outgoing Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey as the seat holder in the 4th Senatorial District, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

Lundberg, R-Bristol, easily defeated former state Rep. Tony Shipley, Colonial Heights Republican Neal Kerney and Blountville Republican John Paul Blevins in Thursday’s GOP Primary. No Democrat has filed to run for the seat.

Lundberg took 6,679 votes, compared to 2,630 for Kerney, 2,508 for Shipley, and 330 for Blevins, according to unofficial returns from Sullivan, Carter and Johnson counties. The only county where Lundberg was seriously challenged was in Johnson, where he recorded a 20-vote victory.

Lundberg has served as House District 1 representative since 2006.

“I think voters have affirmed me because they’ve watched for 10 years and what I’ve been doing,” Lundberg said of the outcome. “They see common sense introducing legislation and dealing with things in a common sense fashion. That’s what I’m taking away from this.”

Durham disputes sex allegations, suspends campaign

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A state representative accused of sexually harassing at least 22 women said Thursday that nearly all of the allegations in an attorney general’s report are either false or taken out of context.

Republican state Rep. Jeremy Durham said he never attempted sexual contact with any of the women whose stories are described in the report. He also said he was suspending his re-election campaign to focus on his family, although he stopped short of resigning his seat.

Reaction from leadership in the supermajority Republican General Assembly was quick, with House Speaker Beth Harwell calling Durham’s denials “insulting to the brave women whose testimony was detailed in the report.” She also said he needs to make it clear that he is not running for re-election. Early primary voting starts Friday, so Durham’s name already is on the ballot.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said Durham should resign immediately.

“His actions were beyond disgraceful,” Ramsey said in an emailed statement. “Suspending his campaign but refusing to resign is an affront to the women of this state and the taxpayers who pay his salary.” Continue reading

Lundberg deemed apparent favorite to win Ramsey’s state Senate seat

State Rep. Jon Lundberg is the apparent favorite to win the state Senate seat being vacated by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, says Hank Hayes in a review of the race for the Kingsport Times-News. The August primary will decide the election since no Democrat is running.

Lundberg has the money, more than $100,000 in his campaign account… The Bristol Republican also has other resources — namely his marketing and public relations agency — to craft his message and reach out to voters. Lundberg, a former television news anchor, also has the military background as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve. He has name identification in both Kingsport and Bristol thanks to how his House District 1 boundary is drawn.

The Senate District 4 August GOP Primary ballot has four candidates, but Lundberg’s main competition without question is former state Rep. Tony Shipley whose last political campaign did not end well.

Shipley, of Colonial Heights, lost an August 2014 Republican Primary race to state Rep. Bud Hulsey by more than 1,500 votes.

Shipley, an Air Force veteran who was denied a fourth term in office, had been under attack in direct mail pieces and television ads from a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group called Advance Tennessee.

“It was the most despicable, nasty, dirty campaign I’ve ever seen in my life,” Shipley said of the Advance Tennessee attacks on election night. “It was embarrassing it was done that way, when you have a super PAC (political action committee) blow your brains out for about a month. I guess you can expect those things to happen. … Negative campaigning works.”

The group had linked Shipley’s voting record to President Barack Obama and Tennessee House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh.

“We simply can’t afford Tony Shipley anymore,” said one 2014 Advance Tennessee mailer. “He has more in common with Obama and West Tennessee liberals than he does with East Tennessee conservative Republicans.”

Shipley himself used similar tactics to defeat Democrat Nathan Vaughn of Kingsport in 2008 and 2010.

As this race plays out, it will be interesting to see which third party advocacy groups emerge to attack or support either Lundberg or Shipley.

Republicans praise retiring Ramsey

Some quotes, as reported by Hank Hayes, from a Saturday evening Sullivan County Republican Party event in honor of retiring Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey:

“He’s changed the course of Tennessee politics for generations,” former Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Bob Davis said of Ramsey. “The heart and soul and legacy of our party is better because of Ron Ramsey.”… Davis recalled his first meeting with Ramsey in 1992, when Ramsey decided to run for the state House.

“We thought without hesitation or reservation that Ron Ramsey was going to lose that race,” Davis said.

…“This man has a compass. It’s pointed north. … This is our Ronald Reagan,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said of Ramsey to a room full of about 500 Republicans at the MeadowView Marriott.

Said U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., “Ron Ramsey is probably the most powerful politician in the state. We have the lowest debt … all because of conservative leadership.”

State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, noted the state is losing a great leader.

Ramsey, said Lundberg, helped flip the Democrat-controlled legislature to Republicans, as well as the Tennessee Supreme Court. “You have upheld our values so, so well,” Lundberg told Ramsey. (Note: Lundberg is running to replace Ramsey in his state Senate seat.)

…In a video message, Gov. Bill Haslam said if he could have been at the event, he would have reminded Ramsey that he has six grandchildren while Ramsey has five.

“I told him the other day ‘You’re leaving on top. … We will miss you,’ ” Haslam said.

After the tributes, the crowd watched a video montage of Ramsey’s legislative career, and a teary-eyed Ramsey stepped to the podium greeted by a standing ovation.

“I’m supposed to say something after that?” Ramsey joked. “Thank you. … Sindy wanted me to be sure to tell you that picture at the back of the program (which showed a much younger Ron and Sindy Ramsey with their children) that was actually my first wife. … Technically it’s true. Sindy was my first wife.”


Ramsey: AG ready for legal fight over bathrooms

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has promised Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that he will “wholeheartedly” defend Tennessee school systems against a federal directive on transgender bathroom use, reports the Times-Free Press. That, says Ramsey, means there’s no need for a special legislative session on the matter.

“Herbert Slatery, the attorney general, called me to say we’re going to defend that wholeheartedly,” Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, told Bradley County Republicans on Saturday night at their annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada has been canvassing colleagues, seeking support for a possible special session to require Slatery to defend schools sued for violating President Barack Obama’s transgender student policies.

A recent directive from the U.S. Justice and Education departments said students should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, not biological sex.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Tennessee fanned conservative Republicans’ ire last week by asking Education Department officials to enforce the directive against Sumner County schools. The ACLU complained the district is not complying with the policy, though Sumner officials say they try to be accommodating.

The Justice Department is suing North Carolina over its law restricting transgender students to bathrooms matching their biological sex.

After the dinner, Ramsey said Slatery told him Friday “he didn’t feel like we needed a special session” to require him to defend Sumner County. He said Slatery is “100 percent on board with it.”

“He feels confident they have statutory authority to [defend a local school system],” Ramsey added.

Ramsey: TN Republicans have reached their peak

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, a driving force in the Republican boom in Tennessee, is taking a final victory lap before retiring from politics.

The Blountville auctioneer was scheduled to be honored at the state GOP’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on Friday evening, an event that has grown along with the fortunes of Republicans in Tennessee politics.

Having presided over vast Republican gains in the Tennessee General Assembly that took the GOP from an afterthought to near complete control, Speaker Ramsey, who served two terms in the state House before being elected to the Senate in 1996, announced earlier this year that he would not seek another term.

“There’s not a lot more to accomplish,” Ramsey told The Associated Press in an interview in his legislative office this week. “On top of the fact that I have five grandkids, it made that decision not that hard, honestly.” Continue reading

Harwell, Ramsey would be surprised by any more vetoes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The speakers of the Tennessee House and Senate say they don’t expect any more vetoes from fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Sen. Ron Ramsey and Rep. Beth Harwell told reporters on Thursday that they hadn’t heard any indication from the governor that he might reject any more bills awaiting his consideration after a trip to Asia.

The governor has 10 days excluding Sundays to decide whether to sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature.

Among the measures Haslam has yet to decide on are legislation seeking to phase out the state’s Hall income tax on income from stocks and bonds, requiring a lawsuit to be filed over the federal government’s refugee resettlement program and stripping funding from the diversity office at the University of Tennessee.

Ramsey, as quoted in the Times-Free Press: “Before we left over whether to have a veto override session or not I got the strong hint we wouldn’t need one. But at the same time did i ask specifically about bills? No, I didn’t. So that’s the reason I don’t think he will. But whether he signs them or not is a whole different story.”

Harwell, as quoted by the Commercial Appeal: “He (Haslam) indicated toward the end (of the legislative session) that he didn’t see anything that would cause us to need an override session, so I’m anticipating that means he’s going to sign them. Or at least allow them to become law without his signature.”

Note: According to the legislative website, the refugee resolution (SJR467) and the UT diversity bill (HB2248) were sent to the governor on May 9. He has 10 days, excluding Sundays, to sign bills once they reach his office. The Hall tax bill (SB47) apparently hasn’t been officially transmitted to the governor yet.

TN Republicans moving to accept Trump as presidential nominee

With some misgivings, prominent Tennessee supporters of Ted Cruz are ready to support Donald Trump for president now that the Texas senator has suspended his campaign, reports The Tennessean.

Tennessee House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, who voted for Cruz in the state’s March primary, said he will ultimately back Trump in the November election, even though he didn’t see eye to eye with the New York businessman.

“I’m just not convinced he’s an intellectual conservative,” Casada, R-Franklin, said Tuesday night about Trump… Nonetheless, Casada said in a race pitting Trump against Clinton, there’s no question as to whom he will support.

…Steve Gill, a former conservative radio talk show host from Brentwood and a Cruz Tennessee delegate, called Cruz’s exit from the race disappointing but commended the senator for recognizing the political reality he faced.

Gill indicated he would eventually rally behind Trump, but said the repeated personal attacks from Trump against Cruz could make it difficult for some Cruz loyalists to get energized behind the presumptive nominee.

…State Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, also backed Cruz and said he was disappointed but will support the eventual GOP nominee.

“It’s pretty clear, though, the American people and the people of Tennessee believe that Donald Trump can best go to Washington, D.C., and reverse the downward spiral caused by both parties,” Green said. “He just seems to change people and clearly we need a fresh start.”

…Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, said she was surprised by Cruz’s decision to drop out of the race, but respects his decision.

“Donald Trump was not my first choice, but if he is our nominee, I will support him,” Harwell said.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said the choice is now clear.

“Hillary Clinton must be stopped and Donald Trump can stop her,” Ramsey said in a statement. “Trump has given voice to frustrated and alienated voters who had all but given up on the political process. He is building a coalition that can defeat Hillary Clinton and make America great again — but only if all Republicans and conservatives unite with him.”

Ramsey backing Trump for president ‘100 percent’

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey thinks Donald Trump is on the way to winning the Republican presidential nomination and backs him “100 percent,” reports WJHL-TV.

“First of all I didn’t think that Donald Trump would ever get in,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said he thought the real estate billionaire’s campaign would fizzle out.

“And that didn’t happen but I do think people are so fed up with Washington D.C. they want somebody from the outside, somebody that’ll shake things up, and he’s riding that wave,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said he wasn’t initially on the wave of support for Trump.

“I like to keep it a secret who I voted for but I was not a Trump person of course…but now I’m behind him 100 percent,” Ramsey said. And he hopes eventually, the Republican Party will back Trump too.

“Trump has pretty much locked down the nomination so whether you’re for him or against him to begin with, obviously I’m for whoever the Republican nominee is,” Ramsey said.

…“If he’s not at the 1,237 that it takes, the delegates, then he’ll be very, very close. I think that’ll be almost impossible to take that away from him, and hopefully it doesn’t because the people have spoken,” Ramsey said.