GOP candidates U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp scheduled 663 political ads between June 21 and Tuesday on local affiliates for ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, a review by Chris Carroll indicates. While that may seem like a lot — more than 50 ads a day for two weeks across four channels — saturation and style vary for the Republicans seeking Tennessee’s 3rd District seat.
And it’s only the beginning.
Fleischmann is airing 220 repetitions of two ads within the 13-day span, while Wamp is rotating his own trio 352 times in the same timeframe. Mayfield bought time for 91 spots in six days from WDEF, WDSI, WRCB and WTVC, records show.
Expenditures for local broadcast ads tell only part of the story, since each candidate is doing some combination of cable, radio and Internet advertising throughout a district that extends from Chattanooga through Oak Ridge and all the way up to the Kentucky border.
But local television advertising numbers are one way to quantify how much the candidates are spending to reach the 3rd District’s largest consolidated group of voters — Hamilton County residents.
As required by law, each TV station allowed the Chattanooga Times Free Press to examine political ad buys. All told, the Republican field has spent at least $131,826 since Wamp became the first 3rd District GOP candidate to hit the airwaves on June 14.
Democrats in the race, meanwhile, have purchased $812.50 of television advertising, records show. That money bought time for Bill Taylor, a Chattanooga businessman, whose outreach has consisted of four, four-second spots touting his support for the Second Amendment. They aired during the Belmont Stakes horse race June 9.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday reaffirmed its 2-year-old decision allowing corporations to spend freely to influence elections. The justices struck down a Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending.
By a 5-4 vote, the court’s conservative justices said the decision in the Citizens United case in 2010 applies to state campaign finance laws and guarantees corporate and labor union interests the right to spend freely to advocate for or against candidates for state and local offices.
The majority turned away pleas from the court’s liberal justices to give a full hearing to the case because massive campaign spending since the January 2010 ruling has called into question some of its underpinnings.
The same five justices said in 2010 that corporations have a constitutional right to be heard in election campaigns. The decision paved the way for unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions in elections for Congress and the president, as long as the dollars are independent of the campaigns they are intended to help. The decision, grounded in the freedom of speech, appeared to apply equally to state contests.
But Montana aggressively defended its 1912 law against a challenge from corporations seeking to be free of spending limits, and the state Supreme Court sided with the state. The state court said a history of corruption showed the need for the limits, even as Justice Anthony Kennedy declared in his Citizens United opinion that independent expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”
Tennessee Republicans this year had a window of opportunity to trim $23 million from the budget’s pork-barrel buffet that’s annually lain before them in the late hours of the legislative session. But, as often the case, the home-cooked political victuals proved too toothsome to pass up.
They opted instead to heap their plates and hand taxpayers the tab in advance of hitting the exits and heading for yonder hills, dales and campaign trails.
So begins a TNReport review of the end-of-session squabble over “local projects” in the state budget, which includes some fresh quotations. House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, admitted that the late-stage discernment of waste in the budget ultimately amounted to legislative “gamesmanship” — that, truth be known, there wasn’t much taste on anybody’s part for reducing tasty government handouts sure to wow the folks back home when it comes time for incumbents to brag on what they brung em’.
“It always happens at the end of the year. These are the things you just have to work out and take care of,” Sargent told TNReport.
Nevertheless, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who presides over the Tennessee Senate, said he doesn’t think voters of a fiscally conservative bent ought to be of a mind to make the GOP’s big-spenders pay come election time.
Ramsey, a “huge believer in preserving history, preserving our roots,” suggested it’s natural to make taxpayers pick up the slack when private-sector fundraising for cultural-heritage conservation efforts comes up short.
“I think that fits right into my basic philosophy in general,” said the Blountville auctioneer, who often sells himself as a friend of Tea Party conservatives.
Still, Ramsey conceded not everyone may agree with every aspect of discretionary government spending in the coming year’s budget, especially when you get down to details.
He acknowledged that one of his own rather infamous pet projects — the Birthplace of Country Music Museum — probably “sounded awful” to those of a mind to zero in and identify the particulars of potential government waste. But GOP legislators even in the House rallied around the proposal to capture $500,000 from taxpayers’ wallets to help fund the $13 million as-yet-unfinished tourist trap located in Bristol, Virginia, just across the street and the state line from Bristol, Tennessee.
…”Republicans spend just like Democrats. When you’re in control, you’re going to spend money,” Owen said. “There’s an incentive there to spend taxpayers’ money on things that really don’t benefit taxpayers as a whole, that go to benefit a select few.”
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Children’s advocates say a report released Wednesday on the welfare of children in Tennessee supports their belief that more preventive care programs will benefit youth long term, as well as save the state money.
The Kids Count report, partially funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, focused on children’s well-being, but also examined how the state spends funds to improve the lives of children.
Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, said universal prevention services have the lowest per child cost and the greatest cost-benefit potential because of their ability to prevent downstream costs.
However, they received the least funding, according to the report compiled by the commission.
Democrats’ contentions that Senate Republicans had slipped “pork barrel” projects into the state budget derailed plans for passage of the $31 billion plan Wednesday after House Republicans at least partially agreed with them.
The House Finance Committee voted to strip $1.5 million in Senate-approved spending amendments from the budget – including $300,000 for Knoxville’s E.M. Jellinek Center – after a two-hour, closed-door GOP conference triggered by House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey responded by saying House leaders had broken a deal. In effect, Some House members said the same thing of the senators for their action in adding the questioned spending.
He’s scrimping on most office expenses, but U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., ranked No. 1 in the U.S. House from October to December 2011 when it came to spending on franking or official mailings to constituents, records show, according to Andy Sher. The 4th Congressional District representative from Jasper, Tenn., spent $224,346.33 on mailings, according to the House’s Statement of Disbursements, which details fourth-quarter spending by all 435 congressman.
Records show DesJarlais was also one of the top House spenders on mailings during all of 2011 with $282,385.34. At least three other House members in other states exceeded that. One, Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., spent $327,503.90, according to House records.
…DesJarlais said in an email statement that “we decided early on that one of our top priorities would be constituent outreach. This strategy has allowed me to incorporate the opinions and beliefs of 4th District residents into the important issues being debated in Congress.”
He said “almost every piece of mail my office sends out contains an issues survey. The data that I receive from these surveys plays an important part in making my legislative decisions.”
But the congressman’s spending is drawing fire from Tennessee Democrats who question why the conservative Republican freshman, who touts government cost-cutting, ranks high in what they charge are sometimes “political-style” communications.
“If someone is going to run on cutting spending, the last thing they should be is the biggest mail spender in Washington, D.C.,” state Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said. “It completely erodes his core message, which is cutting government, cutting spending. Especially when they’re this political-style mail.
“I don’t think people are too keen on their tax dollars being spent on this political campaign,” Puttbrese added. Note: A list of franking expenditures by all nine Tennessee congressmen is below.
Republican Reps. Diane Black of Gallatin, Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump, Scott DesJarlais of Jasper and Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah have spent a smaller portion of their annual office budgets than their more senior colleagues, according to a Gannett Washington Bureau analysis of records from the first three quarters of the year initially reported by WBIR-TV. DesJarlais was the most frugal, spending just 47 percent of his $1.41 million budget by Sept. 30.
That fits with the ultra-fiscally conservative image he has crafted this year by voting against deals on to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for fiscal 2012. While most other Republicans in the delegation favored those compromises, DesJarlais said they didn’t cut enough.
“We tried to run our congressional office the same way that I ran my medical practice — we set a budget and stuck to it,” DesJarlais said. “It was a top priority of mine to ensure that taxpayer dollars were spent in an efficient way, while also making sure that my office had the appropriate resources to serve 4th District constituents.”
…Tennessee’s freshmen spent more on printing and postage than most of the delegation’s more senior members. Black, DesJarlais, Fincher and Fleischmann each spent more than $40,000 to print and send mailings — with Black spending more than $101,000 — while Blackburn, Cooper and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, each spent less than $13,000.
The exception is 23-year House veteran Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr., R-Knoxville, who spent $51,120 on mailings and $50,752 on printing.
The latest financial disclosures of Knoxville mayoral candidates Madeline Rogero and Mark Padgett show they spent considerable money in the media — primarily television — for the Sept. 27 primary, and Rogero started getting money again once it was clear the two candidates would be in the Nov. 8 general election.
Further excerpt from Georgiana Vines report: Rogero reported to the Knox County Election Commission on Friday that she raised $58,037 in September and spent $155,391, with much of it going to Team Blue, a Washington, D.C., firm she’s hired for consulting and handling her TV political advertising and polling services. Through September, she raised a little more than $345,000. She also reported $2,714 in-kind contributions for fundraisers in Knoxville and Nashville.
Padgett’s campaign reported he raised $47,505 in September and spent $142,668, with much of it going to Media Strategies and Research in Fairfax, Va., for TV advertising. He raised $420,334 through September.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN), October 5, 2011 — State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) today announced the introduction of Senate Joint Resolution 470, an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution to slow state spending. The first in a series of announcements, the resolution to slow spending is part of Kelsey’s “12 for ’12” initiative for the new 2012 session of the Tennessee General Assembly which begins in January.
“It’s time to cut back on excessive spending,” said Senator Kelsey. “Financial stability is critical as we anticipate declining funds from Washington in the future.”
The Constitution states that in “no year shall the rate of growth of appropriations from state tax revenues exceed the estimated rate of growth of the state’s economy.” This provision, also known as the “Copeland Cap,” was enacted in 1978. Kelsey said that provision has been critical in keeping Tennessee from falling into the financial peril experienced by other states like California, New York and Illinois, which have incurred almost insurmountable debt. The Tennessee Constitution, however, allows lawmakers to override the state spending cap with a simple majority vote. The cap has been exceeded 4 times in the past 6 years.
“We need to take that option off the table,” added Kelsey. “It is too easy to exceed. Tennesseans know the importance of living within our means. We cannot overspend in good times without setting ourselves up to make drastic cuts or to increase taxes in bad times. This is just what has happened in Washington.”
A constitutional resolution must be approved by a simple majority in two readings each year during one General Assembly, and then receive a two-thirds super majority upon a third reading in the next year. If approved, citizens can expect to see the resolution on the ballot in November 2014.
Kelsey said other proposals in his 12-point initiative will be released in the coming weeks before the legislature reconvenes in January.
News release from Comptroller’s Office:
Tennessee school districts are using Race to the Top funds to implement a wide variety of programs designed to improve student performance, according to a report released today by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability (OREA). Among other planned expenditures, school districts intend to use their shares of the money to fund instructional coaches with specialized training, incentive pay for teachers and leadership courses.
The report, “Scopes of Work: How Select Districts Are Using Race to the Top Funds,” profiles a sample of school districts and how they intend to spend their share of Race to the Top funds.
The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) awarded Tennessee approximately $500 million in Race to the Top funding in March of 2010. The funds will be distributed over a four-year period. USDOE required Tennessee to split the funds evenly between state and local expenditures. The $250 million for local expenditures will be distributed in grants based on scopes of work documents school districts filed with the Tennessee Department of Education.
Individual district grants range from approximately $44,665 (Richard City Special School District) to $68.6 million (Memphis City Schools). Most districts (70 out of 136) received grants between $500,000 and $2 million for the four-year period.
School districts’ scopes of work show considerable diversity, both in the programs and activities they have chosen to fund and the time frames for the expenditures. In total, districts chose to spend approximately $20 million for instructional coaches. These are experienced teachers with knowledge of research-based instructional strategies. They train school personnel and help implement best practices.
Other notable expenses included school leadership training, at $17.5 million, and differentiated pay plans, at $16.9 million. Differentiated pay plans offer bonuses, including performance or signing bonuses, which supplement teacher salaries and provide additional pay for teaching hard to staff subjects or hard to staff schools.
Many districts chose to frontload their spending in the first year of the grants and decrease spending incrementally over the next three years.
“School districts are spending their Race to the Top funds on a number of strategies for improving student achievement,” said Nneka Norman-Gordon, OREA legislative research analyst and co-author of the report. “Time will tell if these spending decisions have the desired effects. OREA will continue to monitor district results.”
OREA is an agency within the Comptroller’s Office that is charged with providing accurate and objective policy research and analysis for the Tennessee General Assembly and the public.
The legislative brief may be viewed at: http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/OREA/