Tag Archives: slush

A Harwell-Haslam ‘Secret Political Slush Fund’ With GOP?

Gov. Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell have quietly channeled at least $91,800 to 24 Republican legislative candidates without disclosing who gave them the money to distribute.
The money maneuver, coordinated with the Tennessee Republican Party, is by all accounts legal. GOP officials checked with Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Registry of Election Finance, to make sure before setting up a separate, special bank account for money raised by Haslam and Harwell.
But Dick Williams, president of Common Cause Tennessee, said the arrangement “dilutes the whole concept of disclosure.” A Democratic Party spokesman called it a “secret political slush fund.”
The Harwell-Haslam fund was never publicly disclosed when it was set up earlier this year. Spokesmen for the governor, House speaker and state Republican Party all acknowledged its existence in response to News Sentinel inquiries, however, and Harwell’s office provided a list of 24 candidates who got donations ranging from $7,100 to $2,000 each.
All but four are Republicans seeking election to their first term in the state House. The four exceptions are incumbent Republicans facing tough re-election races on Tuesday — Reps. John Ragan of Oak Ridge, David Hawk of Greeneville, Jim Gotto of Nashville and Tim Wirgau of Buchanan.
A list of those who donated to the special account, known as the Governor’s Leadership Fund, was not provided.
Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, said providing a list would require getting the information from the party’s comptroller and that there was no opportunity to do so last week.

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State Government, Big Corporations Benefit from Health Care ‘Slush Fund’

FedEx may be a profitable Fortune 100 company, but it still sought help from the federal government to pay health benefits to workers who retired early, says the Tennessean.
So did other Tennessee employers such as Nissan North America, International Paper, the state of Tennessee and the city of Nashville. The subsidies are an often-overlooked provision of health-care reform.
They were meant to help those not yet eligible for Medicare by encouraging employers not to drop health benefits for workers who retire before age 65. But much of the money has gone to large, profitable corporations, prompting Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn and other Republican lawmakers to deem it a corporate “slush fund.”
The $5 billion Early Retirement Reinsurance Program was supposed to last until key provisions of the health-care reform law take effect in 2014. But it stopped accepting applications in May after spending roughly half its funds in less than a year. The program has paid out more than $34 million to Tennessee employers.