NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s top aide has been recommended for an official role at next week’s Republican National Convention.
Lance Frizzell, who serves as the Blountville Republican’s chief of staff, has been selected as one of 10 tally clerks working at the Tampa, Fla., event to crown former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan the GOP presidential and vice presidential nominees.
The other tally clerks include state party chairs from Alabama, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands, as well as several Republican National Committee members from around the country.
Frizzell also serves on the state party’s executive committee alongside Memphis attorney John Ryder, who has been named an assistant parliamentarian at the convention.
House Speaker Beth Harwell has named Scott Gilmer as chief of staff for the state House of Representatives, reports the Associated Press.
From the AP story (it’s at the bottom of a story focused on Gov. Haslam’s non-commenting on political developments, reproduced in full above): Gilmer replaces Gregory Gleaves, who announced before the primary election that he was leaving to work for Hall Strategies, a Nashville-based public relations and lobbying firm.
Gilmer in 2009 pleaded no contest to a criminal charge stemming from his operation of phony political Web sites in the name of a Democratic incumbent who ended up losing his re-election campaign by about 300 votes. State election law says only candidates or their representatives can authorize communications made in a candidate’s name. Gilmer received a $50 fine and no jail time.
Later in 2009, Republicans narrowly rejected an attempt by Democrats to give more teeth to the law on falsely representing others on political websites. The measure ultimately failed on a 49-48 vote, with all but one Republican voting to throw it out. The lone GOP dissenter at the time was Harwell.
Harwell in an email message to colleagues cited Gilmer’s “many years of experience” in selecting him for the top job in her office.
News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the promotion of Mark Cate to chief of staff.
“This title better represents Mark’s role and the work he does in this administration,” Haslam said. “I appreciate his valuable contribution to our office and am pleased to acknowledge his work in this way.”
Cate joined the governor’s staff as special assistant to the governor after leadership roles in the gubernatorial campaign and transition team.
— Note: Claude Ramsey remains as deputy governor. Cate was manager of Haslam’s 2010 campaign and as ‘special assistant’ has spearheaded many gubernatorial projects, including the top-to-bottom reviews of various government agencies and some legislative initiatives.
According to gubernatorial spokesman Dave Smith, Cate’s salary will increase to $155,000 per year. It’s now $142,298.
News release from United Campus Workers:
Days after the University of Tennessee system’s Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents raised tuition and fees for their respective campuses, and following Governor Bill Haslam’s announcement of a conference on the future of higher education to be held this Tuesday, United Campus Workers-Communications Workers of America local 3865 has issued a call to Haslam to include staff, faculty, and students from the campuses in the dialogue.
While invitees include politicians and even representatives of the Tennessee Chamber
of Commerce, the Governor’s office left out invitations to those people who are at the heart of the state’s higher education system: its faculty, staff, and students.
“We’re confused and disheartened by the Governor’s choice to privilege business interests over the interests of the people who are most directly involved in the higher education system,” said Tom Anderson, President of UCW-CWA and staff at the university of Tennessee-Knoxville. “We want to be at the table because we think we’re in the best position to see what’s working–and maybe more importantly what isn’t working. Any solution is going to involve all of us, so why aren’t all of us being asked to participate in this conversation?”
Despite recent setbacks regarding litigation and his own critical remarks about his job, Chip Saltsman, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s chief of staff, said Tuesday that his indefinite, unpaid leave of absence is “all part of the plan.” More from Chris Carroll:
Saltsman has been on leave since June 8, but Fleischmann’s office never publicly announced the news.
Interviewed Tuesday, Saltsman, who earned more than $156,000 last year as Fleischmann’s top aide, said he left the government payroll to supervise “all aspects of Chuck’s campaign” on a volunteer basis until at least Aug. 2, when Fleischmann faces three challengers in a hotly contested 3rd Congressional District Republican primary.
Saltsman described the “long-planned leave of absence” as “a pretty common thing for chiefs of staff to do,” but his remarks to a national media outlet two days before he left were anything but ordinary.
On June 6, the website Politico published a story quoting Saltsman as saying, “I didn’t want to take the job as [Fleischmann’s] chief of staff. I said ‘No’ the first three times he asked me.”
Saltsman acknowledged the comments Tuesday.
“I’ve loved working for Chuck, but you know, that was not my first choice,” Saltsman said. “That’s not what I was going to do the first time around.”
Fleischmann’s office did not make the first-term congressman available for an interview Tuesday, but in the June 6 article, Politico quoted him describing Saltsman as “an outstanding individual.”
Not long before Saltsman’s leave of absence became public, the Chattanooga Times Free Press published excerpts of a deposition Saltsman gave in a lawsuit brought against him and Fleischmann by Mark Winslow, a former aide to Fleischmann’s top 2010 opponent, Hamilton County’s Robin Smith.
A 2010 attack ad mentioned in the lawsuit alleged that Smith, a former state GOP chairwoman, paid “lavish bonuses” to a top aide at a time the party was in debt. That claim appeared to be debunked when Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said he was the one who paid Winslow as part of a severance agreement.
In his own deposition, Fleischmann testified he had no literal grounds to make the “lavish bonuses” charge against Smith.
News release from Department of Economic and Community Development:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today announced the release of nine regional strategic plans outlining how ECD’s field staff will lead new economic development efforts in their regions, support existing networks of local organizations and serve as an effective conduit between the department and regional stakeholders. The plans can be viewed at http://tn.gov/ecd/.
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced today that his chief of staff, Matt Sonnesyn, will leave the office to pursue private interests.
Sonnesyn will be succeeded as Alexander’s chief of staff by Ryan Loskarn, staff director at the Senate Republican Conference. Loskarn will begin as chief of staff on November 28th and will also continue serving as staff director at the Conference for the remainder of Alexander’s chairmanship through early 2012.
Alexander said, “Matt Sonnesyn is one of the most talented policy advisers on Capitol Hill. For ten years we have worked closely together. I will miss his counsel, but have no doubt that the next stage of his career will be even more successful than the first. I am fortunate that Ryan Loskarn is willing to transfer his considerable skills from leading the Republican Conference to leading my Senate staff.” RYAN LOSKARN
Staff Director of Senate Republican Conference for the past two and a half years, Loskarn has worked at the Conference since 2007 under former Chairman Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Chairman Alexander. Prior to serving as staff director, Loskarn was communications director both for the Conference and Alexander. Before the Senate, Loskarn spent seven years in the House of Representatives as a legislative aide to Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), deputy press secretary at the House Rules Committee, and communications director for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) from 2003 to 2007. Named one of Roll Call’s “Fabulous 50 Movers and Shakers” on Capitol Hill, Loskarn earned a B.A. in history and political science with honors from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. MATT SONNESYN
Matt Sonnesyn first worked for Alexander as a graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School where he was asked to serve as Alexander’s research assistant to design a new graduate level course on “The American Character and American Government.” Since that time he has served as the senator’s chief policy aide, managed day-to-day operations at the Senate Republican Conference, and, most recently, served as chief of staff. Over the last decade he has advised the senator on nearly every major policy decision, as well as worked on much of Alexander’s signature legislation, including the America COMPETES Act – bipartisan legislation to strengthen our country’s competitive edge in science and technology. He was policy director for Alexander’s 2002 Senate campaign and U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s 2006 campaign. He has also worked at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Sonnesyn holds a B.A. in international relations from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
News release from Department of Transportation:
Nashville, TN – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer today named Lyndsay Thurston Botts as his Chief of Staff. Botts is currently the Director of Communications and Community Relations for TDOT. As Chief of Staff, Botts will serve as a top aide and advisor to the Commissioner and will have oversight responsibilities for the department in areas of communications, policy, and government relations.
“Lyndsay has proved to be a valuable asset to me as I direct and lead this great agency,” Schroer said. “This appointment will allow her to assist me in day-to-day operations, as well as focus on key initiatives and special projects.”
Botts joined TDOT in March of this year and previously served as the Field Director and Assistant Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. Prior to that post, Botts was a news anchor and reporter for the FOX affiliate in Chattanooga.
Botts will be replaced by B.J. Doughty as the department’s Director of Communications and Community Relations. Ms. Doughty served as TDOT’s Community Relations Officer in Middle Tennessee since 2006, prior to serving as TDOT’s Public Information Manager.
“B.J. has done an exceptional job in establishing solid working relationships with the media and effectively communicating the department’s information to the people of Tennessee,” said Schroer. “I know she will do excellent work in her new assignment.”
In her new role, Doughty will have management responsibilities of TDOT’s Community Relations Division, which oversees and directs the areas of media relations, public involvement and constituent services. Doughty will continue to serve as the primary media contact for the department pertaining to statewide issues. Before joining TDOT, Doughty was a news producer for ten years at the ABC affiliate in Nashville.
Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty did a Q&A session with the Tennessean. A couple of excerpts: On the results of ECD’s “top-to-bottom review:
“The result of that was a fundamental change in our organizational structure. We are now divided into nine distinct regions, each with a highly competent regional director and staff that is focused extensively on the needs of existing businesses in the state of Tennessee.
“The (department) staff itself has been reduced by 42 percent while the average salary of each employee in our department has increased by more than $10,000. We have a smaller department but a very highly functioning department, and that staff is highly focused on recruiting.
“We have four overseas offices and we have a business development team that is focused on recruitment of companies from outside the state. They are working on a global basis every day to bring new companies to the state.” On the search for regulations bothersome to business that should be changed, Hagerty said the big problem is at the federal level.
“There, our objective is to work closely with our congressional delegation to make sure those issues are aired in a constructive manner and identify businesses that may be willing to either testify before Congress in Washington or maybe field hearings here in Tennessee to underscore their issues and perhaps make a difference at the federal level.
“I don’t expect anything transformational at the state level, but I do suspect we’ll find opportunities for incremental improvement there. At the municipal level, I suspect we’ll find opportunities to share learning and best practices across the state.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Staffers in the state Senate have begun retransmitting Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s daily news summary through social media.
The moves come in response to the Haslam administration last week cutting the e-mail distribution of the early-morning news roundup from 1,100 to about 150.
The Senate Democratic Caucus on Monday began posting a copy of the news clippings on its Facebook page, while a spokesman for Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville sent out a link to the document on Twitter.
Haslam officials said the changes were made to make the e-mail list more manageable, but acknowledged there were no cost savings involved in sending the e-mail to fewer people.
Senate Democrats on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tnsenatedems
Ramsey spokesman Adam Kleinheider on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ramflack