Kevin Teets has left the position of executive director for the Tennessee Democratic party, a position he took after serving as manager of Democrat Eric Stewart’s unsuccessful campaign against Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais last year.
State Democratic Chairman Roy Herron wished Teets well but gave no reason for the departure in a news release issued Monday. The move comes after a Jackson Day dinner dispute over Herron’s leadership. (Previous post HERE.)
Here’s the Herron news release:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron released a statement Monday thanking outgoing party Executive Director Kevin Teets for his service and leadership on Jackson Day:
“Having just led the Tennessee Democratic Party to its most successful Jackson Day in years, Executive Director Kevin Teets is leaving the state Democratic Party to pursue new opportunities.
Kevin led the efforts that doubled the gross and quintupled the amount raised at Jackson Day each of the last two years. That $350,000 will help elect Democrats, and I’m personally grateful for the incredible job Kevin did in leading our team.
Kevin’s hard work made it possible for Sen. Tim Kaine and our dynamic Democratic mayors to energize Democrats statewide and for us to honor Congressman Cooper for all his years of service to the state. We wish Kevin well in all of his future endeavors.”
Roy Herron has returned to full-time work — and pay — as chairman of the state Democratic Party after serving as an attorney in monthlong trial that resulted in a $15.2 million verdict for his client, a young man left permanently disabled by alleged malpractice of a doctor and hospital.
Herron, a former state senator, stopped drawing his chairman’s salary May 15 to prepare for the trial, which began June 3 and ended July 3 with a Weakley County Circuit Court jury verdict in favor of Cody Wade of Martin, Tenn., who was 17 when left with brain injuries while under the care of the defendants following a traffic accident.
Herron, who was part a team of attorneys representing Wade and his grandparents, returned to the party headquarters to resume full-time work on Monday, according to Democratic spokesman Brandon Puttbrese.
Defendants in the case were Dr. Susan Lowry of Martin and Cane Creek Rehabilitation Hospital, owned by Rebound LLC, an affiliate of HealthSouth Corp. They may appeal the verdict.
“This verdict can mean that he lives in Weakley County with his family and those who love him, instead of the state taking Cody from his family and shipping him to Memphis, Nashville or even East Tennessee to languish and survive in a distant nursing home that takes ventilator-dependent patients,” Herron told the Union City Messenger.
State Democratic Chairman Roy Herron is foregoing his party pay while acting as an attorney for the plaintiffs in an ongoing medical malpractice trial that he says could last “five or six weeks.”
Herron sent an email to fellow Democrats saying that he had committed more than five years ago to “a wonderful couple, both devout Democrats, that I would represent them in a case seeking medical care and redress for grievous injuries to their severely disabled grandson.”
In an interview Wednesday, Herron said Cody Wade, 17 at the time, underwent surgery on his trachea that allegedly left him unable to breath for a period of time, resulting in severe disabilities. The lawsuit, brought by Cody’s grandparents and conservators, Reba and Ronnie Wade of Martin, is against HealthSouth King Creek Rehabilitation Hospital and two physicians.
A jury trial began Monday in Weakley County Circuit Court.
Herron said he decided to forego his salary as party chairman starting May 15, when he attended a son’s college graduation, and will continue in that status until the trial has ended and he can resume fulltime duties as party chair.
The former state senator said that, in effect, he is returning temporarily to the “volunteer chairman model” followed by seven of the last ten state Democratic chairmen. His two immediate predecessors, Gray Sasser and Chip Forrester, were full-time chairs with a full salary – as was he until now.
Herron said he still expects to average 80 hours per week for the full year, since he often spends 100 hours per week on party labors otherwise. Even during the trial, Herron said he is remaining active in fundraising, overseeing staff including the hiring of a new deputy finance director and other duties.
— Note: Text of Herron’s email is below.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — An Athens man, who was pardoned by President Barack Obama of a petty crime committed more than a half-century ago still can’t own handguns.
Roy Grimes received word on March 1 that the president had pardoned him for altering a $41 money order in December 1960 and depositing it. The 72-year-old Grimes had asked for the pardon, partly because he likes classic Western heroes and wanted to collect the weapons they used.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/11gwE0r), Grimes’ attorney, Patrick Noel, checked with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and was told there is no provision for restoring the handgun ownership rights of someone convicted of a crime. Not even a presidential pardon changes that.
The TBI said the Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-17-1307(c)(1), states “A person commits an offense who possesses a handgun and has been convicted of a felony.”
The statute says nothing about restoring gun ownership rights, by pardon or by any other means.
There is disagreement on the issue.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Walter Dellinger wrote on the same issue in 1995 that a state cannot deny someone’s right to own a firearm if the president has pardoned that person. Dellinger wrote that the U.S. Constitution allows presidents the right to pardon people who have been convicted and the Supremacy Clause declares states cannot override the federal government.
The TBI, however, cites a state statute passed in 2008 — 26-0 in the Senate and 87-3 in the House — that opposes the opinion.
“The state law changed since the opinion was rendered in 1995,” TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm wrote in an email. “Mr. Grimes received his pardon after that law was passed.”
The conclusion astounded Margaret Love, the U.S. pardon attorney from 1990-97.
“How could that possibly make any difference?” Love asked. “The holding of the opinion is that a presidential pardon removes automatic disabilities imposed by state law based on the pardoned conviction. Period.”
A similar case id now before the Tennessee Court of Appeals. It involves the 1989 conviction in Georgia of David Blackwell on three felony drug offenses. He was later pardoned by a Georgia governor and moved to Tennessee, where he also found he couldn’t get a handgun.
Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper weighed in with a 2009 opinion that a felon can’t have a handgun in Tennessee, pardon or not.
Blackwell’s attorney, David Raybin, asks what’s the point of a pardon?
“They’re saying it’s worthless,” Raybin said. “They’re saying it’s just a piece of paper. That’s it.”
Tennessee Democratic Chairman Roy Herron today called for removing the Democratic party from a bill by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, that would have the party causes of the state Legislature nominate candidates for the U.S. Senate starting after the 2014 elections.
Here’s the text of Herron’s opening remarks at a news conference: Democrats believe that the People should pick the Politicians, instead of the Politicians picking each other. But now the Radical Republicans want to steal the People’s right to vote to nominate our United States Senators.
The Republicans already have made it harder for People to vote by:
*new restrictions requiring big government ID cards
*cutting back days to early vote
*cut back voting locations
*purging law-abiding citizens from voting rolls (e.g., Rep. Lincoln Davis and Rep. Butch Borchert’s wife)
*even doing away with paper verification so you don’t know if your vote is counted.
Now they don’t want Tennesseans to vote at all, even in nominating our most important representatives in Washington, our U.S. Senators.
Once again, the Reactionary and Radical Republicans want to take us back a couple of centuries, to the 1800s when the legislature picked our senators until corruption and the people finally ended the practice by Constitutional Amendment in 1913. In fact, Tennessee ratified the 17th Amendment 100 years ago today on April 1st, 1913.
Now we know what Republicans mean when they claim to be for smaller government: they want to take the People out of elections and let a small number of Republican politicians grab the power.
On behalf of the Tennessee Democratic Party, I call on the General Assembly to take the Democratic Party out of this bill. Tennessee Democrats do not want to be part of this April Fool’s Joke on the People of Tennessee.
A money order for $40.83 cost Roy Grimes more than he could have ever imagined, reports the News Sentinel.. After living 52 years as a felon for altering the payee’s name and then cashing a money order he and a friend came across back in 1960, Grimes feels that his debt has been paid. Now, he has the documentation to prove it.
On March 1, Grimes was in his Athens, Tenn., home when he received a phone call from his lawyer, Patrick Noel, who informed him that his request for a presidential pardon had been approved.
“I told him, ‘Hallelujah!’ ” said a smiling Grimes on Friday after getting his first look at the pardon. “It’s been a real albatross for me.”
Grimes, 72, has lived his entire adult life under the impression that he would never be able to vote or buy a gun because of the conviction he received as a 20-year-old. That was until three years ago, when he came across the possibility of getting a presidential pardon.
He began recounting his life’s journey in the 20-page application that eventually turned into 40 pages.
“He was very meticulous about his pardon application, which really showed and helped,” Noel said of his client. “He, if anybody, deserves a pardon.”
Unfortunately for Grimes, the decision wasn’t Noel’s to make. So after six months of perfecting his application Grimes mailed it to President Barack Obama’s Office of Pardon Attorney in August 2010.
There was no word on the status for more than 2½ years. Then came the March 1 phone call.
News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron called the current private school voucher proposal another battle in the “Republican War against public schools” today at a press conference in Nashville.
Herron derided the influence of big special interests, which accounts for about $2 million of known spending in the effort to allow public tax dollars to flow into private institutions.
At least four special interest groups are spending big money to push vouchers in Tennessee, including
•The Beacon Center of Tennessee, which has been funded by Washington, D.C.-based special interests, is currently airing deceptive television ads in Tennessee;
•Students First, which has spent at least $900,000 on lobbying and candidate contributions;
•The American Federation for Children is spending $800,000 on advertising supporting private school vouchers; and
•the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conglomeration of big corporate backers that hosts conferences for state legislators annually, is a longtime supporter of privatization and school vouchers.
Herron’s prepared remarks can be read below:
Donna Kaye Wright was a bookkeeper at the former Bank of Friendship in Crockett County and attended the town’s United Methodist Church, but the Commercial Appeal says little more is known about her except Friday she got a presidential pardon. Wright, 63, who was sentenced to serve just 54 days on federal charges she embezzled and misapplied bank funds, was given the rare presidential clemency in an announcement late Friday afternoon by the White House. Sixteen others, including people from Athens and Chattanooga, in Tennessee, got pardons.
And this from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press: A Chattanoogan and an Athens, Tenn., native were among 17 people who were pardoned Friday by President Barack Obama on Friday, largely for minor offenses
Donald Barrie Simon Jr., of Chattanooga, had been sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation for aiding and abetting in the theft of an interstate shipment.
Roy Eugene Grimes Sr., of Athens, Tenn., had sentenced to 18 months’ probation for falsely altering a U.S. postal money order, and for passing, uttering and publishing a forged and altered money order with intent to defraud.
The White House offered no details on why these particular people, or any of the other 15, were selected by Obama, who has issued relatively few pardons since taking office.
Those receiving pardons came from 13 states and had been sentenced for crimes that included falsely altering a money order, unauthorized acquisition of food stamps, drug violations, and possession of an unregistered firearm.
Former state Sen. Roy Herron became the Tennessee Democratic Party’s new chairman Saturday, winning a solid majority of executive committee members’ votes despite criticism he is too conservative on some issues such as abortion.
From the Andy Sher report: The 59-year-old Dresden attorney outpolled Dave Garrison, a Nashville attorney, 39-27. Garrison was backed by the state’s two Democratic congressmen along with House and Senate Democratic Caucus leaders and the mayors of Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, as well as labor unions.
Herron will lead an embattled party that has seen Republicans seize the governor’s mansion and absolute control of the state Legislature.
Following his election, Herron charged that under Republican rule, “we’ve gone from common sense to nonsense.”
He accused the GOP of “trying to destroy the public schools” and said “those things that unite us as Democrats are far more important than those things that divide us.”
But his election left some Democrats uneasy.
At the end of the meeting, executive committee member Jerry Maynard, a Metro Nashville councilman, took the unusual step of asking Herron to declare his support of President Barack Obama.
Maynard said he had never heard Herron endorse Obama during the election campaign.
“I voted for the president, I announced I was for the president, I told anybody who asked me that I was for the president,” Herron replied. “I support the president, I support what he’s trying to do for the country, and I support the United States of America.”
…Herron succeeds Chip Forrester, who was elected four years ago despite opposition from top Democrats such as former Gov. Phil Bredesen and major party fundraisers. They punished Forrester by largely withholding support for the party.
Speaking before the vote, Forrester said he now was sorry he ran “without the support of the majority of the elected officials of this state.”
“Because of that I and my staff have faced an uphill battle for four years unifying this party.”
On the eve of the election of a new chairman for the Tennessee Democratic Party, there’s a bunch of commentary on the race among Democratic-oriented bloggers. Much of it is themed on concern about Roy Herron’s apparent lead over Dave Garrison – and Herron’s credentials as a ‘progressive’ Democrat — in the contest that will be decided Saturday. A good summary with links is HERE.
I would add a link to the Pam Strickland perspective, HERE. And maybe David Briley’s email, HERE.