Tag Archives: secretary

Report lists Tre Hargett promotion efforts at taxpayer expenses

Phil Williams reviews several taxpayer-funded efforts that could be seen as political promotions for Secretary of State Tre Hargett in a report on WTVF-TV.

Seems Hargett issued his recent statement declaring that he’s not running for governor (previous post HERE) two days after Williams interviewed him for the report, televised Tuesday.

Williams reports the cost to taxpayers of printing new ‘I voted’ stickers with Hargett’s name prominently displayed as $6,885. (Previous post HERE.) Hargett now says that was a mistake.

The veteran politician claimed that it never occurred to him that the Tre Hargett stickers would look political.

“I think where I missed the mark, frankly, Phil, I wasn’t looking through a political lens,” Hargett said.

We asked, “So you’re saying this was a mistake?”

“I’m saying we missed the mark,” he responded, later adding: “I should not have put my name on it.”

Other Hargett moves that could be seen as enhancing his name recognition for a future political endeavor include his picture on the state’s voter registration website and election night tweets from his office on state political race results from “via @SecTreHargett” — which links back to Tre Hargett’s personal Twitter account.

That account, Hargett acknowledged, is maintained with the help of a state employee again at taxpayer expense. That employee’s salary: $33,000 a year.

…Inside Department of State’s offices, you’ll also find Tre Hargett’s face in framed photos and Tre Hargett’s name printed on the walls. There are also Tre Hargett pamphlets and Tre Hargett pencils.

And every single employee’s business card has to be printed with, you guessed it, Tre Hargett’s name on top.

…There are also Tre Hargett lapel pins — thousands of them — also produced at taxpayer expense. Total cost: $6,647.

…(The Secretary of State’s) also publishes the Tennessee Blue Book, but Tre Hargett’s name on the cover wasn’t enough. So Tre Hargett had Tre Hargett bookmarks printed. In fact, we counted Tre Hargett’s name five times!

“So why should your name be on there five times?” NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.

“That does seem like a lot,” he acknowledged. “That’s another thing that we need to look at through the political lens and try and figure out could we do better.”

Then, there are the big lottery-style checks that Hargett delivers to libraries around the state. Even though an independent board decides who gets the grants, the fake checks are signed “Tre Hargett” — also at taxpayer expense.

Total cost for those big checks this year alone: $1,215.

…”It’s really about shining the light on the great work that those libraries and archives are doing. I certainly am not trying to claim credit.”

Just like some Tre Hargett portfolio and Tre Hargett cups that he bought with old campaign funds, critics question if all this Tre Hargett stuff might be the beginning of another Tre Hargett campaign.

In fact, our investigation discovered that, on and off, between the fall of 2012 and the early part of this year, Hargett put a friend on the state’s payroll as his director of policy. Dennis Berwyn is a political consultant from North Carolina.

“He was not a political hire. In his job description nor his title did he do political work,” the secretary of state said.

Berwyn would fly in on Mondays, leave on Thursdays, getting paid as much as $6,000 a month without benefits. Among his projects: a Tre Hargett newsletter and a PR campaign called Tennessee Business Spotlight — also sponsored by Tre Hargett.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “Where does it say that the secretary of state needs to do a Tennessee Business Spotlight?”… (Hargett) said that it was just an effort to shine the spotlight on some good Tennessee businesses.

As for the man behind the campaign, it turns out he’s also the registered owner of the Internet domain HargettForGovernor.com.

Hargett Becomes NASS President

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
ANCHORAGE, AK – The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), currently holding its annual summer conference in Anchorage, Alaska, today inducted its new slate of national officers for the 2013-2014 cycle. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett will serve as president of the professional organization for state officials through July 2014, marking the first time in more than three decades that a Tennessee official has held this position.
“I look forward to continuing the strong leadership that my predecessors have provided to NASS for almost 110 years,” said Hargett of Tennessee. “Now more than ever, citizens are looking for collaborative bipartisan leadership from their state officials. Citizens are counting on us to lead the way in developing and sharing best practices for running honest and efficient elections, for increasing voter turnout and civic awareness and for protecting our people and our businesses from unnecessary federal laws and regulations.”
Hargett added that under his leadership, NASS will continue to serve as a forum where members can learn from each other how best to provide the services their offices are charged with delivering to the public.

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Trivia Question: Name 5 Tennesseans who became president

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Here’s a quick trivia question: Can you name five Tennesseans who became president?
If you’re a good student of the state’s history, you probably won’t have any trouble naming former U.S. presidents Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson or James K. Polk. But a fourth or fifth?
It’s a trick question, because there were also Tennesseans who later became presidents of foreign countries, such as Sam Houston, who led the briefly-independent Republic of Texas, and William Walker, who was inaugurated as president of Nicaragua on this date in 1856.
Walker’s life is highlighted in one of the Tennessee State Library and Archives’ online exhibits. The exhibit can be found at http://tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/walker/index.htm.
Walker isn’t as famous as some Tennesseans chronicled at the State Library and Archives, but in his day, he was quite infamous for his efforts to colonize Central America.
Three years before he became president of Nicaragua, the Nashvillian led a group of 45 men who landed in Baja California, Mexico. Walker declared the land to be the Republic of Lower California and proclaimed himself to be the new country’s president. Mexican forces soon threw him and his troops out of the country and he was tried (but acquitted) for violating U.S. neutrality laws when he returned.
Walker then led a group of 57 soldiers into Nicaragua. After fighting a number of battles and eventually becoming president, he launched a plan to “Americanize” the country by declaring English the official language and encouraging U.S. residents to immigrate there. He was later ousted by the combined forces of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. After unsuccessfully attempting to regain the presidency of Nicaragua, he was eventually captured and turned over to the Honduran government, which executed him for piracy.
“The story of William Walker is one of thousands that can be found at the Tennessee State Library and Archives,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Because his life is chronicled in one of our online exhibits, it is accessible to Tennesseans free of charge, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. I encourage people to visit our web site and learn more about the resources that are just a few mouse clicks away.”

Documentary on TN Capitol Premiers

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
It has endured an army occupation, the interment of two of its founding fathers, and a car cruising through its hallways. Not to mention its role as the site of many of the most important events in Tennessee’s history. The Tennessee State Capitol building has many great stories to tell – and some of those stories were revealed in a documentary about the building that premiered last week. In attendance were state legislators, department commissioners, representatives from preservation groups and others.
The documentary was created by the staff of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. It is the first part of a project that will eventually include a virtual tour of the Capitol building and its grounds, and feature stories about the building and influential people in Tennessee history.
When completed, the entire project will be burned onto DVDs that will be distributed to schools throughout the state.
The project is a result of the Tennessee General Assembly’s approval of Public Chapter No. 557, sponsored by Representative Jim Coley and Senator Ken Yager.
“I appreciate the support of the Tennessee General Assembly in the passage of Public Chapter No. 557, which has led us to the creation of a comprehensive digital record of the Tennessee State Capitol’s history,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “That history will be available to people now and in the future – 24 hours a day, seven days a week and free of charge – over the Internet. There are many things about the Capitol’s history that will surprise people. This building doesn’t have its own Trivial Pursuit game, but it could.”
“The mission of the State Library and Archives is to preserve Tennessee’s history for everyone,” State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill said. “This video draws on some of the vast treasures contained in our archives to tell the story of the Capitol building.”
The original cornerstone of the Capitol building was laid on July 4, 1845. In the 14 years that followed, architect William Strickland – with assistance from Samuel Morgan, Francis Strickland and Harvey Ackroyd – designed and oversaw the building that is still in use today. Although the Capitol has gone through various renovations over nearly 170 years, many of the building’s original characteristics are unchanged. This historical national landmark is one of the nation’s oldest working statehouses still in use.
The documentary and information on the images used in the film are available at www.capitol.tnsos.net. Additionally, the virtual tour, mini-features, and fun stories about the Tennessee State Capitol will be available soon.

Alexander Calls for Investigation of HHS Secretary

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may be breaking federal law by raising money and working with private groups to help roll out the federal health care law “outside of the government,” according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
“Secretary Sebelius’ fundraising for and coordinating with private entities helping to implement the new health care law may be illegal, should cease immediately and should be fully investigated by Congress,” Alexander said.
The ranking Republican on the Senate committee that oversees health care policy, Alexander likened Sebelius’ actions to the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal. That erupted when it was discovered that a Reagan administration official, Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, sold arms to Iran and sent some of the money through private groups to arm Nicaraguan rebels after Congress refused to appropriate funds for that purpose.
“Only the Congress has the authority to appropriate money,” Alexander told reporters in Nashville. “And when the secretary seeks to do things outside of the government, which Congress refuses to do, the Constitution doesn’t permit [it] and the federal law makes it illegal.”
Alexander cited a Washington Post article from last week. The Post reported Sebelius was asking health industry executives, community organizations and church groups to assist groups like Enroll America, a nonprofit coalition working to ensure Americans get enrolled for coverage under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Asked for comment, HHS spokesman Jason Young said in an email to the Times Free Press on Saturday that the practice is legal. He emphasized that “the Secretary has made no fundraising requests to entities regulated by HHS.”
“Part of our mission is to help uninsured Americans take advantage of new affordable, high quality insurance options that are coming, thanks to the health law,” he said.
For the last several months, Young said, Sebelius “has been working with a full range of stakeholders who share in the mission of getting Americans the help they need and deserve. We have always worked with outside groups, and the efforts now ramping up are just one more part of that work.”

Note: Alexander’s press release is below.

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So If Your Company Got a Bill For $125 from Corporate Records Service, Read This

News release from Secretary of State’s Office:
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office has received inquiries about an official-looking notice from Corporate Records Service. It appears that these notices began arriving in mailboxes around January 22, 2013 and Tennesseans are continuing to receive them. Corporate Records Service is not registered, affiliated, or associated with the Tennessee Secretary of State.
The mailer is causing confusion for Tennessee corporations due to its appearance as an official document. Tennessee corporations are required to file annual reports with the Tennessee Secretary of State. Most corporations have also recently received annual report notices from the Secretary of State.
Corporate Records Services is requesting a $125 fee. The standard fee to file a corporation annual report in Tennessee is only $20.
“We can confirm that Corporate Records Service is not a business entity on file with our office,” Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “I strongly advise corporations to exercise caution before providing their private and confidential information or credit card information to this or any company that is representing itself in this manner.”

TN Legislative Records (as early as 1793?) Go Online

News release from secretary of state’s office:
Tennesseans who want to get a glimpse at the foundations of our state’s political and social history can do so with the help of a new resource from the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The Early Tennessee Legislative Records database is now online, providing an index to records from as early as 1793 through the 1840s. These papers chronicle the most important events in Tennessee history of that era, including the formation of county and boundary lines, the mustering troops for war and amendments to the state constitution.
Researchers of the Early Tennessee Legislative Records can see, for example, how the first legislative attempt to ban slavery in Tennessee was drafted and failed in 1819. Many of the documents indexed in the collection have not been seen since the original clerks folded them away at the end of the legislative sessions. Included in the records are acts, original bills, failed bills, resolutions, amendments, messages, petitions from citizens, and tally sheets showing how members voted on the issues.
During this period, the legislature dealt with matters now considered quite personal. Divorce petitions, disputes over land boundaries and requests to recognize illegitimate children all appear in the early legislative records. Genealogists and historians can learn a great deal about early Tennesseans and their lives from these files.
“This is an exciting addition to TSLA online collections, because the Early Tennessee Legislative Records are such a rich source of information about the beginning of our state,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “In addition to these records beginning with our state’s infancy, when Tennessee was merely the ‘Territory South of the River Ohio,’ TSLA also houses all the subsequent records up through the most recent General Assembly. The Legislative Records are a veritable gold mine for historians and average citizens alike.”
While the majority of the records indexed date from before 1830, newer records will be added on an ongoing basis. This is a collection that is constantly growing. The Early Tennessee Legislative Records index can be found online at phttp://tennsos.org/TSLA/rg60/

Hargett Sets Up ‘Honor Veterans’ Website

News release from Secretary of State’s Office:
Voting and paying tribute to our nation’s active and retired armed services personnel are two of the most patriotic acts citizens can perform. A new program launched by the Secretary of State’s Office this week allows people to tie the two together.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett announced the “Tennessee Honor Vote” program, which will provide citizens with an opportunity to dedicate their votes in the upcoming election to the servicemen and servicewomen of their choice.
A new page has been developed on the Secretary of State’s web site where people may sign up and dedicate a personal message to one or more active or retired members of the armed forces.

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Congressman Cooper Hires New Press Secretary

News release from Rep. Jim Cooper’s office:
NASHVILLE–U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) has named Stephen George as his new press secretary. George, who most recently was the editor of the Nashville City Paper, will take over the press operation starting in September.
“Stephen brings a much needed outside perspective to Washington. His experience will be invaluable to our operation,” said Congressman Jim Cooper. “We are delighted to welcome him to our team.”
George has almost a decade of experience as a reporter and extensive knowledge of the Nashville political scene. Though based in Washington, he will split time between the two offices.
“I’ve always found the legislative process fascinating, and I am thrilled to work for someone who considers it as thoroughly and respectfully as Jim Cooper,” said George. “His principles are sound and evident in what he says and does. I look forward to working with him and his talented staff.”