Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was sentenced today to six months in prison, reports the News Sentinel.
The Democrat and longtime jurist also was sentenced in Greeneville by U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer to a year’s supervised release after the term is completed.
Baumgartner’s attorney, Donald A. Bosch of Knoxville, told the court he would apply for a stay of the sentence. Baumgartner will be allowed to self report to a federal prison.
Baumgartner stepped down in March 2011 and pleaded guilty in state court to official misconduct amid an investigation that showed he had abused drugs and used court defendants to secure them. He was spared prison and allowed to keep his pension.
In October, however, a federal jury convicted him of five counts of misprision of a felony, meaning he knew about and covered up a mistress’ involvement in a drug conspiracy centered around his drug usage.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill to prevent businesses, schools and colleges from banning firearms in their parking lots was approved by a House subcommittee after a six-minute hearing on Wednesday.
The measure, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby, would give the state’s 390,343 handgun carry permit holders the ability to store firearms in their vehicles parked on company or school property.
Faison argued that permit holders who undergo background checks and meet training requirements are “worthy of carrying … and keeping a gun.”
Democratic Rep. Sherry Jones of Nashville was the only member of the panel to raise questions about the measure and to convey her opposition when the bill was advanced to the full House Civil Justice Committee on a voice vote .
“So you could go to church, school, drive down to the guy’s house down the block? Any restaurant, any business anywhere?” she asked, referring to those storing firearms in their vehicles.
Republicans gained six seats each in the state House and Senate Tuesday, giving the party more than the “super majority” they sought in both chambers, according to complete but unofficial election returns.
By controlling two-thirds of the seats in both chambers for the first time since the Reconstruction era, Republicans will have a quorum and could continue in session even if all Democrats walk out. The two-thirds “super majority” also allows united Republicans to suspend normal rules and instantly pass legislation.
Going into the election, Republicans held a 64-34 majority in the state House with one independent and a 20-13 majority in the state Senate. They needed a net gain of two seats in each chamber to have a two-thirds majority – 66 in the 99-member House and 22 in the 33-member Senate.
Instead, they gained six seats – in part because of Republican-controlled redistricting earlier this year that put six Democratic incumbents into three districts.
In the Senate, Republicans also won six seats seats held by Democrats in the 107th General Assembly including defeat of Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Clarksville.
The GOP Senate majority will thus swell to 26 seats in the 108th General Assembly, which convenes in January, The Republicans will hold 70 seats in the House, assuming unofficial returns stand. There were at least three House races decided by fewer than 100 votes.
Six Tennessee legislators leaving the General Assembly this year are in Chicago this week on what could amount to a taxpayer-funded junket, according to TNReport. Four retiring legislators and two state reps who lost their bids for re-election in last week’s primary have given the state notice they plan to get reimbursed for attending the National Conference of State Legislatures annual summit in the Windy City that began Monday, a trip that could cost as much as than $2,500 in registration, airfare, hotel stay, per diem and cab rides.
They are Rep. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, and Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis, who lost their primaries, and retiring lawmakers Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill; Rep. Don Harmon, D-Dunlap; Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden; and Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington.
One of the General Assembly’s highest-ranking Republicans says he trusts that the departing lawmakers have good reasons behind their decisions to make the trip.
“I know it will be beneficial to the others who attend to get the benefit of their wisdom and their years of service,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville. “I think discretion is the better part of valor with these things, and obviously they’ve exercised their discretion and think it’s fine to go. I’m not passing judgment on it.”
Legislators are permitted to let taxpayers foot the bill for out-of-state legislative trips, complete with a per diem, travel and lodging expenses. Even outgoing lawmakers are entitled, said Connie Ridley, director of Tennessee’s office of Legislative Affairs.
“Members of the General Assembly serve as a legislator until the general election in November,” Ridley said in an email. “They are no longer eligible for compensation of any form the evening before the November general election.”
— UPDATE NOTE: Herron, though authorized to make the trip, reports that he did not go.
At least six sitting Republican representative – including the chairman of the House GOP Caucus and the Education Committee – were defeated in Thursday’s primary elections and a couple of others had close calls.
On the Democratic side, four incumbents were also unseated, but that was the result of redistrictign that had pitted incumbent-versus-incumbent in four races.
The upset of the evening statewide was the defeat of House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville by Courtney Rogers, an Air Force veteran who benefited by more than $75,000 worth of spending by the National Rifle Association. The NRA’s Political Victory Fund targeted Maggart for attack radio ads and billboards after blaming her for failure of a so-called “guns parking lots” bill that would have allow gunowners to keep their weapons in locked cars, even in the parking lots of companies that ban guns.
House Education Committee Chairman Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, was the second most prominent member of House GOP leadership to lose. He was narrowly defeated by Dale Carr, a Sevierville auctioneer who said the incumbent had lost touch with Sevier County voters.
Both Maggart and Montgomery had outspent their opponents overall by substantial amounts and both had staunch support from Gov. Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell and other established state Republican leaders.
Also losing bids for reelection in the Republican primaries Thursday were Reps. Julia Hurley of Lenoir City, defeated by Kent Calfee of Kingston, and Dale Ford of Jonesborough, defeated by James “Micah” Van Huss, an Army veteran; Don Miller of Morristown, defeated by Tilman Goins; and Linda Elam of Mount Juliet, defeated by former Rep. Susan Lynn.
The only incumbent Republican state senator to face a serious challenger, Doug Overbey of Maryville, had a win of almost two-to-one over Scott Hughes. The win was tantamount to election with no Democrat on the ballot.
The Republican state House redistricting plan unveiled today is designed to end the careers of at least six incumbent Democratic representatives while creating six new districts with no incumbent.
Legislation implementing the new House plan was given initial approval by a House subcommittee on Wednesday over Democratic objections within hours after being formally recommended by an all-Republican committee. Plans call for enacting it into law next week.
Redistricting plans for the state’s nine U.S. House seats remained under wraps, though House Speaker Beth Harwell said she anticipates unveiling of a congressional plan before the end of this week.
In the state House, eight current Democratic incumbents are paired in four news districts by the Republican plan, apparently assuring that at least four of the Democrats will lose in running against a fellow Democrat or abandon their seat to avoid such a contest.
The paired Democrats are Reps. Sherry Jones and Mike Stewart in Nashville, Reps. Antonio Parkinson and Jeannie Richardson in Memphis, Reps. Barbara Cooper and G.A. Hardaway in Memphis; and Reps. Tommie Brown and JoAnn Favors in Chattanooga.
In two other redesigned seats, an incumbent Democrat will be in the same district with an incumbent Republican. Harwell said she believes the new districts are aligned so that the Republicans, Reps. Jim Cobb of Spring City and Vance Dennis of Savannah, will prevail over the Democrats, Reps. Bill Harmon of Dunlap and Eddie Bass of Prospect.
The Cobb-Harmon pairing is in District 31, which would include a part of western Roane County along with all of Rhea, Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties.
There will be six districts without an incumbent representative under the plan. The most striking in geographic alignment is new District 92, which encompasses all of Marshall County in Middle Tennessee, then runs along the Alabama border to Marion County in East Tennessee – including parts of Lincoln and Franklin counties along the way.
Other new districts created without an incumbent are in Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Rutherford and Williamson counties.
The new and open Knox County seat, as reported earlier, is in the northwest part of the county and includes the Karnes and Hardin Valley areas. It is designated as District 89 in the plan, a number previously assigned to a Shelby County seat.
The new Davidson County seat, including a part of Nashville, is deemed a “coalition district” where black and Hispanic voters combined would constitute a majority of the population. Republicans said it is the first such district created in Tennessee and provides minorities an opportunity for added representation in the Legislature.
State Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester, who watched the proceedings Wednesday, said the “coalition district” does not have any legal standing under voting rights laws and does not offset apparent minority losses elsewhere. In two of the paired incumbent districts – Cooper-Hardaway and Brown-Favors — black Democrats will be running against one another. In another, black Democrat Parkinson is paired with white Democrat Richardson.
The redistricting plan is based on 2010 U.S. Census data, which showed Tennessee’s population overall grew by 11.5 percent to 6,346,105. Ideally, each of the 99 House districts would have a population of 64,105.
Under the Republican plan, the highest population in a district is 67,297 in a Hamilton County district while the lowest population is 61,052 in a Williamson County district.
Court decisions have held that population variance can be no more than 10 percent from highest to lowest district. The Republican plan has a variance of 9.74 percent.
‘It is fair and certainly has less gerrymandering than the way the districts are currently drawn,” said Harwell.
The state constitution prohibits splitting counties in legislative districts, but courts have ruled that prohibition is overridden by the need for equal representation under the “one person, one vote” principle. The new plan splits 29 counties.
News release from Rick Perry campaign:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Texas Gov. Rick Perry today announced the endorsement of six Republican Tennessee lawmakers, including Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, State Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown, State Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson, House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, State Rep. Don Miller of Morristown and State Rep. Mark White of Memphis.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who endorsed Gov. Perry even before he announced his candidacy, praised his fellow legislators for their support.
“I’ve known Gov. Perry for a long time,” said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. “I was impressed when I first met him and my esteem has only grown as he has proven his leadership in Texas. The time for rhetoric is over. We need a man of action. We need a president who understands how to promote economic growth. We need a president who understands that the role of the federal government must be limited. Rick Perry has heeded the call to national leadership at the exact right moment for our country.”
“Rick Perry is the candidate who will get America working again,” said Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron. “Under his leadership, Texas has experienced an economic miracle creating more than one million net new jobs. Gov. Perry’s record is solid, proven and conservative.”
“Rick Perry doesn’t just spout conservative rhetoric — he implements tangible conservative reform,” said State Rep. Mark White. “Gov. Perry is a principled constitutional conservative who has cut taxes, reduced spending and stood up to the job-killing regulations from Washington bureaucrats.”
“I am humbled to have the support of so many Republican lawmakers in Tennessee,” said Gov. Perry. “They share my vision for a stronger America with more jobs, more freedom and less government intrusion in the lives of our citizens. With the help of these legislators, we will run a spirited campaign in Tennessee, and in 2012 we’ll get America working again.”
For more information about Gov. Rick Perry’s record, presidential campaign and plan to get America working again, please visit www.rickperry.org.