Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, a cardiothoracic surgeon and retired Army colonel, said Friday he intends to seek the 7th District Senate seat held by Stacey Campfield, reports Georgiana Vines. He has named former County Commissioner Frank Leuthold as his treasurer.
Briggs said he had been having weekly meetings with prospective supporters for several months and didn’t intend to make any announcements quite this soon for an election in 2014.
But with Campfield making news in Nashville with some of his proposed legislation, “it’s fair to say, everything was coming to a head. I was starting to get calls from people. We thought we should go ahead and pull the trigger and start rallying people,” he said.
Briggs and Campfield are Republicans. Briggs’ naming of Leuthold with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance allows him to start raising money for a campaign for the Republican primary on Aug. 7, 2014.
Campfield did not return a phone call seeking comment on Briggs’ potential candidacy.
Briggs, 60, had told the News Sentinel in September he was considering the race.
He and his wife, Stephanie, have bought a condo on Lanesborough Way in the 7th District where they vote, although they still use a house she owns on Breakwater Drive on the lake, he said.
Briggs has been on County Commission since 2008.
Campfield, in his first term as senator after serving in the state House, is his own treasurer, according to the state registry. The latest financial disclosures report filed Jan. 31 showed he had $11,386 in his campaign account.
Note: Brian Stevens, 30, a statistics professor at the University of Tennessee, had previously announced as a Democratic candidate for Campfield’s seat. A Metro Pulse profile of Stevens and his campaign is HERE.
Brian Stevens, who has already launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield in 2014, is the subject of a lengthy political profile piece in this week’s Metro Pulse.
The tall and strapping Stevens embarked on this venture earlier in the year and took advantage of the campaign season to get his message out early to likely voters. He’ll need those two years, he says, if he wants to win the state Senate District 7 seat.
“If no one’s ever heard of me, they’re going to reject me,” he says. “We have to fill in that blank. And then I come in and create the rest. It’s hard. Beating Stacey Campfield is not going to be an easy job.”
Stevens, 30, is a statistics professor at the University of Tennessee. This semester, he’s also picked up a math class he’s never taught before–and he’s learning the material right along with his students. He says he reads the textbook himself and works out the example problems before teaching a lesson. If a student asks him a question he can’t answer, he tells him or her he’ll look it up himself. On top of his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in business analytics, he’s worked a slew of unrelated jobs, including working on an archaeological dig in Texas. In college, he was a member of the student government.
“I’ve had positions of authority and leadership,” he says. “My experience is there for my age.”
Stevens will run on the Democratic ticket, but mostly for the purposes of raising his odds against Campfield.
“I know a third-party candidate will only increase Stacey Campfield’s chances. And it’s not so much about party because it is about me as a person,” he says.
Stevens and his supporters don’t use the word “Democrat” to describe him very often; they prefer “social libertarian/fiscal moderate.” In fact, “Democrat” isn’t used on his official website or on his Facebook page.
…Though Stevens’ platform is fairly typical of Democratic ideals–it includes support for environmental protections, marriage equality, and more efficient education strategies–he says he would defer to Haslam’s business knowledge when it comes to creating jobs.
“He knows what will bring business here. And I think it’s great we have a businessman as a governor,” Stevens says.
News release from Tennessee Democratic Party:
Martin, Tenn.–The Tennessee Democratic Party released a radio advertisement featuring a West Tennessee senior citizen who filed an ethics complaint again John Stevens, an embattled attorney and Republican candidate for the state senate in District 24.
The one-minute spot features Ginger Virginia House, Steven’s former client. It’s running on radio stations throughout the senate district in Northwest Tennessee. House filed an ethics complaint against Stevens after he charged her for services that were never delivered.
The following is a transcription of the advertisement:
“Have you heard about John Stevens, the candidate that ripped up a dying woman’s will, changed the beneficiaries of her will, and admitted to it in a sworn statement? When I heard about this, I had to come forward and speak out. My name is Ginger Virginia House. My husband and I also hired John Stevens to write a will for our family. But John pocketed our money, never did the will, and didn’t even return our calls. He shouldn’t treat people that way. Because of what John Stevens did to the dying lady in a coma, and to my family, I filed an ethics complaint against him. I understand that the woman in a coma wanted to leave her money to St. Jude Children Hospital, but John Stevens tried to stop that. I knew John Stevens and how he operates; John Stevens is a bad apple. If you can’t trust John Stevens with a will for senior citizens, you can’t trust John Stevens at all.”
You can hear the ad online at TNDP.org.
This is not the first time Stevens has found himself in ethical hot water. Court documents show that Stevens tore up the last will and testament of Ruth Karas while she was unconscious. Karas reportedly intended to leave much of her estate to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
St. Jude and Youth Town sued to restore the original will, which directed her estate to be split between the two organizations, other than $100,000 left to Keras’ brother, Earl Allen.
According to court records, Stevens drew up a power of attorney on behalf of Keras, naming Peggy Wilkes of Carroll County as her attorney-in-fact. He also established a revocable trust establishing that upon her death its assets would be divided equally between Wilkes and Allen.
HUNTINGDON, Tenn. (AP) — The Republican candidate for state Senate who once tore up a dying widow’s last will and testament while she was unconscious has been named in an ethics complaint.
A complaint to the Board of Professional Responsibility says Virginia House and her husband paid Huntingdon attorney John Stevens $500 to write their will and set up an irrevocable trust.
WNWS-FM (http://bit.ly/SglFjX ) reports it was provided a copy of the complaint by the House family. In it, House says Stevens never performed the work and didn’t return the money.
Stevens released a statement saying that BPR complaints are confidential and the public release of any complaint is a desperate attempt to influence the election.
House said she was moved to file it by news stories of the widow whose will was destroyed.
Six days after Republican state senate candidate John Stevens admitted ripping up an unconscious widow’s last will, he released a statement Monday saying he was acting “on her wishes and her wishes alone.”
Further from the Commercial Appeal:
Stevens’ Democratic opponent in District 24, Brad Thompson, last week circulated court filings involving the death and the estate of Huntingdon resident Ruth Keras. They included indications Stevens created a revocable trust on behalf of Keras, whose assets after her death were to be divided equally between Keras’ brother and Peggy Wilkes of Carroll County.
The will Stevens ripped up named St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a major beneficiary and hadn’t mentioned Wilkes.
…In his statement Monday, Stevens said the Thompson campaign’s suggestion of wrongdoing on his part “is a lie by a desperate campaign that is down double-digits. It is what you expect from an Obama-Pelosi Democrat.”
Stevens said Keras hired him in Huntingdon and “was fully competent … I was one of the last people Ruth met with. I carried out her wishes in the last days of her life. I acted on her wishes and her wishes alone.”
“Ruth wanted her will changed — for the third time,” the statement continues. “After she lost consciousness, the only legal option left open to me was to tear up her second will in her presence — as required by law … My sole purpose in this matter was to carry out Ruth’s wishes as expressed to me in the hospital in Huntingdon.
“The idea that Brad Thompson would cruelly use this for political gain is disgusting,” he added. “I carried out my duty as a lawyer.”
The statement does not address why Keras wanted St. Jude and Youth Town jettisoned as beneficiaries days before her death. St. Jude’s lawyers, in their lawsuit, maintained the change in beneficiaries was contrary Keras’ written instructions in 2002 and 2003, and contrary to her late husband’s wishes.
The matter was settled out of court and the terms remain confidential. Stevens was not a party in the legal dispute, but his affidavit was made part of the court record.
In response to Stevens’ statement, Thompson’s campaign manager, Carol Andrews, released a statement: “John Stevens knows he has no defense for preying upon a dying, elderly woman who for many years had simply wanted to leave her estate to sick and troubled children,” she said. “If he didn’t do anything wrong, then why did he sign an official affidavit stating that he did?”
The state Democratic party is emailing media copies of a story by West Tennessee radio station WCMT on allegations about Republican state Senate candidate John Stevens, raised by his Democratic opponent, Brad Thompson. It starts thusly:
MARTIN – Carol Andrews, Campaign Manager for District 24 State Senate Candidate Brad Thompson, today released official court documents showing that candidate John Stevens admitted to an unethical and unlawful act involving interference with the wishes of a dying woman to leave her estate to helping sick and troubled children.
In 2010, Stevens signed an official affidavit admitting to his wrongdoing. Andrews made the following statement and provided background materials on the story:
“Some disturbing news has come to my attention regarding our opponent in this race. This is an incredible story and one that voters deserve to know. It illustrates that John Stevens is a man who simply cannot be trusted.
“The story I am relating is all readily available in the Circuit and Chancery Court Clerks’ offices in the Carroll County Courthouse just across the street from John Stevens’ law office.
Official court documents show that John Stevens broke Tennessee law by interfering with a dying woman’s wish to leave her estate to St. Jude’s Children Hospital – to a hospital known around the world for caring for children with cancer — and Youth Town of Tennessee, a center here in West Tennessee that helps troubled youth.
“According to official court documents, John Stevens lied to nurses in a Jackson hospital to gain access to the dying woman’s bedside to tear up her will.
“Her name was Ruth Karas.
“Mrs. Karas was in a coma. John Stevens had already drawn up other papers putting other people in control of the woman’s estate.
“Mrs. Karas died a day after John Stevens tore up her will.
“John Stevens’ acts were unethical and according to the Tennessee Code Annotated, a felony.
“On his web site, John Stevens claims that “he is an attorney in private practice helping families and farmers with elder law and estate planning,” yet he helped prey upon an elderly woman as she lay dying.
“John Stevens later signed an official affidavit admitting that he committed this act. He agreed with a nurse’s deposition that he tore up the will of an elderly woman as she lay dying in a coma. John Stevens had even been so craven as to ask this nurse to video his act on his telephone.
“John Stevens was not the dying woman’s attorney and had not previously been involved in her will.
“According to Tennessee Code Annotated, Stevens’ act is against the law. It is most certainly unethical and heinous to interfere with a dying woman’s wish to leave her estate to an interest to help children with cancer.
“Voters deserve to know this about John Stevens. This shows that he certainly cannot be trusted.”
State Sen. Stacey Campfield is in the middle of a four-year term but already has at least two potential opponents to re-election in 2014, reports Georgiana Vines.
The latest is Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, a cardiothoracic surgeon and retired Army colonel who has served in active and reserve units.
Briggs, a Republican, acknowledges an interest and says he will wait until after the Nov. 6 elections before making a decision.
…Brian Stevens, a full-time lecturer in statistics and mathematics at the University of Tennessee, already is campaigning for the post. He considered running for the 15th House District seat as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Joe Armstrong this year but did not. He said at the time his long-term goal was to run against Campfield. He plans to run as a Democrat, he said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville priest who founded a recovery program for prostitutes is being honored by the White House.
Becca Stevens founded a residential program called Magdalene in 1997.
It offers participating women free housing, food, medical and dental care, therapy, education and job training for two years, all without government funding.
Seventy percent of the women who join are clean and sober 2 1/2 years after beginning.
Stevens will be honored at a Washington ceremony on Thursday as one of 15 “Champions of Change,” according to WPLN (http://bit.ly/nGaRs8).
The St. Augustine’s Episcopal Chapel chaplain says she hopes the recognition will inspire others to do similar work.
Recently, she’s met with groups interested in the Magdalene model from St. Louis, Atlanta and New Orleans.
Note: The White House news release is below.