U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., on Tuesday rejected controversial assertions made by a House colleague, Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., that “legitimate rape” doesn’t result in pregnancy, according to Andy Sher. “As a physician there is no medical basis that could or should have led anyone to make such insensitive statements,” said DesJarlais, who considers himself pro-life, in a brief email statement to the Times Free Press.
But the Jasper physician is making no apologies for his support of a 2011 House Republican bill, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”
The measure, which passed the GOP-controlled House last year but went nowhere in the Senate, sought to further toughen restrictions on federal funding of abortions. It did that by substituting the phrase “forcible rape” for “rape,” which is part of the current ban.
“I have been a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” DesJarlais said. “This bipartisan bill simply prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to perform abortions. Human life is sacred and taxpayer funding of abortion is counter to the values a great many Tennesseans hold.”
Critics say the bill would exclude statutory rape and also instances where women felt threatened to have sex or where they had been drugged.
— Note: Democrats have a different view. Previous post HERE.
Some state legislators facing re-election challengers have been overspending their taxpayer-funded accounts for communicating with constituents, covering the shortfall either with political money or transfers from colleagues who are either retiring or face no re-election opposition.
Some examples from a review of the 2012 “postage and printing” accounts:
-State Rep. Harry Tindell, D-Knoxville, who is not seeking re-election transferred $4,720 from his account to state Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, who faces a general election opponent. Another retiring Democrat, Rep. Bill Harmon of Dunlap, chipped in $1,500 to Windle from his account.
-Five Republican lawmakers with no opposition gave $1,000 each to state Rep. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, who faces a challenge in the Aug. 2 primary. Without the transfers, Montgomery would have lacked enough money in his account to cover a May mail piece carrying the headline, “Rep. Richard Montgomery: Making Job Creation Priority #1.”
-At least a dozen lawmakers had to write checks to the state to either cover a deficit in their taxpayer-funded accounts or avoid one. Only one legislator wrote a personal check — Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, for $62.02 — while the others transferred political campaign funds. The biggest campaign fund check to the state as of Friday came from Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, for $2,833. Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, had tentatively reported a shortfall of $8,653, though the paperwork was still being processed Friday.
A massive move in the state legislature also came with a high price tag, according to WSMV-TV. Taxpayers have footed the bill for nearly $130,000 to re-arrange Tennessee state lawmakers’ offices.
Earlier this year, the halls of Legislative Plaza were cluttered with furniture as lawmakers both old and new, both Democrats and Republicans made the huge office swap. To the victors go the spoils, or when it comes to the state legislature, the victors get the good office space.
So, could some of the costs have been avoided?
“Every dollar counts and they should watch their budget as closely as you and I watch our budget,” said taxpayer watchdog Ben Cunningham. Much of the expense was spent on the movers, which totaled $47,000. To paint and remove wallpaper cost $35,000, and new furniture cost $15,000. Thousands more were spent to rebuild and remove walls and relocate doors.
While Gov. Bill Haslam says there are “ongoing negotiations” with Amazon over the internet giant’s collection of Tennessee sales taxes, Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts will not confirm the governor’s statements..
And former Revenue Commissioner Charles Trost, who reportedly handled the Amazon dealing back during former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration, won’t say anything either.
So reports Mike Morrow as part of a story on Haslam’s remarks on Amazon Friday, which boiled down to the governor saying he hasn’t changed his position – he’ll honor the Bredesen deal but would like for Amazon to start collecting taxes at some undefined point in the future.
Haslam was asked Friday if, when an arrangement with Amazon is reached, the public would be informed what it is.
“Sure,” Haslam said. “You bet.
But it’s sure bet that officials don’t like to talk about the deal now. Trost, a Nashville attorney who replaced Reagan Farr as commissioner of Revenue last Sept. 10, would not comment on details of the Bredesen deal.
“I really am not in a position where I can,” Trost said. “The taxpayer confidentiality rules have put me in a position where I just don’t even want to start down the road talking about it.”
Trost said he is not even in a position to confirm that the deal was struck while he was commissioner.
“What’s in the public record out there, if you looked at the timing on it, when I was in office, you can draw your own conclusions,” Trost said.
….Roberts had a similar response.
“I can tell you that the state statutes prohibit me from discussing any taxpayer, whether it be you or Billy Bob’s Bait Shop or an unnamed major Internet retailer,” Roberts said. “Just as a matter of policy we simply can’t comment on individual taxpayers.”
Roberts said he cannot confirm that the administration is talking to Amazon.
“Our policy here requires that we maintain confidentiality. The reason is we have to give any taxpayer the confidence that what they file with us and their dealings with us will not wind up in the public domain. Until the legislature changes that — and I also believe it’s the right policy — I just simply can’t confirm or deny,” Roberts said.
Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, speaking to reporters Friday, picked up on the issue of discussing the talks.
“I can’t quite tell what the governor’s position on this is, but we are making a mistake by talking about our discussions with Amazon without having some kind of firm agreement with them,” Berke said.
More than $700,000 of taxpayer money was stolen from county governments across Tennessee during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010.
Details about the missing money are available in the Comptroller’s annual report on cash shortages and other thefts, which was released today.
Information about the cash shortages is taken from the annual financial reports and special reports for Tennessee’s 89 county governments audited by the Comptroller’s Division of County Audit and for six counties audited by private accounting firms.