After one term in the state legislature, state Sen. Tim Barnes knew he was going to be in a fight to come back to Capitol Hill, reports the Tennessean in the latest look at an intense state Senate campaign. “When the lieutenant governor says he wants 33 state senators and makes me a target and raises money for my opponent, believe me, I know it’s going to be a tough race,” Barnes said.
The District 22 contest between Barnes, D-Adams, and doctor and business owner Mark Green, R-Clarksville, has become negative enough to earn statewide attention.
These tactics have become more frequent in the past month, even though the major attacks haven’t been handled by the candidates. While the Tennessee Democratic Party and a nonpartisan progressive group have separately attacked Green’s record as a doctor and questioned a campaign funding issue, the state Republican caucus released a television ad criticizing Barnes’ record in the state legislature (and other stuff).
…At the same time, Republican officials outside of the Green campaign are going on the attack against Barnes. A television ad that tied the Democrat to liberal positions on federal issues, including cap-and-trade legislation and the Affordable Care Act aired on local stations and was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and his estranged wife Allison have struck a deal to settle their divorce, court records show.
Further from Jamie Satterfield’s News Sentinel report:
Under the terms of the deal, Burchett walks away with the marital home and half its contents. Allison Burchett currently is living in that home but must vacate it in 30 days.
Each had alleged the other was guilty of inappropriate marital conduct. Allison Burchett’s attorney, Martha Meares, had not filed any document specifying her claim against the mayor.
Burchett’s attorney, Albert Harb, however, did file a specific claim alleging Allison Burchett had cheated on her husband during the marriage.
Republicans are faulting Democratic state Sen. Tim Barnes for spending $15,517 from his taxpayer-funded “constituent communications” account on two mailers this year, one in June and one in September, reports the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. “It’s pretty clear that constituent communications need to be done when the legislature is in session,” said Jordan Young, Senate Republican Caucus executive director.
“Saving all that money and using it during the campaign when his services are completed is wrong,” Young said. “Wouldn’t you want to know about a particular issue before you vote on it?”
Legislators are given an allowance for mailers for communications with constituents, but those mailers are prohibited during the 30 days before a primary or a general election.
In this case, the June mailer went out about a week before the cutoff, which Young said indicates Barnes was “flirting with that rule.”
But, he said, “whether it follows the rule or not doesn’t make it right. Sen. Barnes is using taxpayer resources to build up his name” and that’s not fair, he said, when “our candidate has to pay for it himself.”
On Nov. 6, Barnes faces Republican Mark Green for the District 22 seat, which includes Montgomery, Stewart and Houston counties. Young characterized it as the only “highly contested” state Senate race where the incumbent is a Democrat.
…Barnes responded that there’s nothing unusual or unethical about the mailers.
“I’m sure they would call it that, but if you look into when legislators mail these out, they do it during the session and after the session,” Barnes said.
“It is not only perfectly ethical, it is common practice and a vital and needed way to communicate with constituents.”
“A lot of these are summarizing what we did in the legislative session to get feedback. It gives us the opportunity to plan for the next session.”
…Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis called the accusation “unfounded criticism.”
“All legislative mail – from the content to the timing – is approved by the speaker’s office, therefore if they have an argument, they have to take it up with Speaker (Ron) Ramsey, who the last time I looked was a Republican,” Kyle said.
“And I guarantee he reads every one of those word for word.”
— Note: For more on the ‘constituent communications’ accounts — which are exploited on a bipartisan basis — see this story written with the primary pending and mostly focused on how incumbents — Republicans included — transferred money from their accounts to help colleagues with the mailers under question.
From the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: The 178,768 people of Montgomery, Stewart and Houston counties will decide one of Tennessee’s most competitive races this November when they choose between incumbent state Sen. Tim Barnes and Dr. Mark Green for Senate District 22.
Barnes was elected to the Tennessee Senate in 2008 after he beat write-in candidate Rosalind Kurita. A legal battle fought by the Democratic Party made him the party’s nominee instead of Kurita, the incumbent.
Barnes has been practicing law for 27 years and maintains a legal practice in downtown Clarksville.
Green is president and CEO of Align MD, a hospital staffing company, and previously worked as an emergency room physician and as a flight surgeon for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Green served two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. Both candidates sat down with The Leaf-Chronicle recently to lay out their positions on major issues facing the state Senate.
Full story HERE.
The gloves are off in the race for Tennessee Senate District 22, according to the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. In a direct mailer sent this week, Sen. Tim Barnes attacked Dr. Mark Green and his record with Gateway Medical Center.
The glossy, paid for by the Tennessee Democratic Party, claims that under Green’s management Gateway was the lowest-ranked hospital in the state and that Green was caught directing doctors to “cherry-pick” healthier patients to boost hospital profits.
But the claims in the mailer are based on out-of-date data and are not fair to the hospital, according to members of the hospital staff.
“He truly painted a picture that was incongruent with the current facts about Gateway Medical Center,” said William McGee, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Gateway.
The mailer cites data from a Consumer Reports article that claims Gateway was the lowest-rated hospital in the state and had a death rate higher than the national average.
But Gateway CEO Tim Puthoff said in a statement that the Consumer Reports article used old data that included only 37 of the 120 hospitals in Tennessee and Gateway’s mortality for August 2011 to July 2012 was in line with the national average.
In the statement Puthoff said he met with Barnes Friday and Barnes agreed not to mention Gateway in any further campaign communications.
. The Berke campaign issued a statement Wednesday about his candidacy, but did not respond when asked why Berke is raising money in Knoxville for a Chattanooga mayoral run.
…(E)ven a supporter and campaign contributor expressed surprise Wednesday when told Berke planned a Knoxville reception.
“That’s news to me,” said Joe Decosimo, owner of Decosimo Certified Public Accountants. “Why would he go to Knoxville? He has enough support in the city, he doesn’t need to go there.”
Eighteen hosts are listed on the invitation, including Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, and former Republican Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe. Guests include current Democratic Knoxville Mayor Madeleine Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.
Club Leconte is on the 27th floor of the First Tennessee Plaza Building, overlooking downtown Knoxville. According to its website, the club was formed to “serve Knoxville’s corporate, political, cultural and academic community.”
Two other potential mayoral hopefuls in Chattanooga also said they were surprised that Berke was going out of town to raise money.
…Burchett, reached by phone Wednesday, said Berke is a longtime friend — the two served together in the Tennessee Senate.
Even though he’s a Republican, Burchett said, he thinks Berke is a man of honor and would make an excellent mayor.
“If Andy tells me it’s going to snow, I’m probably going to go to Emory’s Five and Dime and get a sled,” Burchett said. “Because he’s honest.”
Tennessee’s Registry of Election Finance wants Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to appear before it next month and explain a series of irregularities in the campaign disclosure forms he filed connected with his successful 2010 election run, reports Mike Donilla. The registry, in a 4-1 vote this morning, said it would issue the mayor a “show cause” letter that would require him to explain how the errors occurred and to fix them if possible.
The board – if it eventually chooses to further investigate the issue – also will have to decide later whether to dismiss any issues or assess a civil penalty, which can be as much as $10,000 per offense.
Members told Burchett’s Nashville-based lawyer who was at this morning’s meeting that they’d like the mayor to attend the panel’s next meeting, which was set for Oct. 23.
At issue is a formal sworn complaint filed by local freelance writer Pam Strickland asking state and local officials to look into campaign discrepancies in the mayor’s disclosure forms. Strickland, who writes a weekly column for the News Sentinel but is not an employee of the newspaper, filed the complaint Aug. 8 with the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
Stickland’s complaint follows a series of News Sentinel articles that raised questions about Burchett disclosure forms filed in his 2010 mayoral run. In the complaint, which includes copies of the newspaper stories, Strickland reiterates much of the paper’s findings.
A six-member state board that investigates campaign finance irregularities will meet next month and decide whether to look further into some questionable disclosure forms filed by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, reports Mike Donila. In addition, state ethics officials said they also are seeking possible records that the mayor’s estranged wife, Allison Burchett, may have that are related to her husband’s 2010 election.
“We’ve got the complaint and now it’s up to the registry (of election finance) to determine whether it wants to proceed, dismiss or do something in the middle,” said Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
At issue is a formal sworn complaint filed by local freelance writer Pam Strickland, asking state and local officials to look into campaign discrepancies in the mayor’s disclosure forms. Strickland, who writes a weekly column for the News Sentinel but is not an employee of the newspaper, filed the complaint last week with the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
The state, at the time, said it wouldn’t act until it heard back from local officials.
On Friday, though, the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office forwarded the complaint to Rawlins. John Gill, special counsel to the Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols, sent a brief note saying he also has contacted Allison Burchett’s attorney “to retrieve any records in Ms. Burchett’s possession or control related to that election.”
…County Mayor Tim Burchett said: “Nobody wants to get to the bottom of it more than I do.”
Strickland said her “only concern is that it be investigated,” so “it didn’t matter” whether local or state officials looked into the issue, although she did say that “it removed local politics” now that it’s in the registry’s hands.
The registry, which is comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans appointed by the governor and the Legislature, will meet Sept. 5 in Nashville. At that time, members will more than likely decide whether to issue the mayor a “show cause” letter that would require him to explain how the errors occurred and to fix them if possible.
The board — if it chooses to investigate the issue — also would have to decide later whether to dismiss any issues or assess a civil penalty, which can be as much as $10,000 per offense.
Knoxville freelance writer and editor Pam Strickland has filed a formal sworn complaint, asking state and local officials to look into questionable campaign finance disclosure forms reported by Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, reports the News Sentinel. Strickland, who sent the complaint on Wednesday via certified mail to the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said: “If there is a problem, it needs to be investigated, and we need to know what that problem is. If there’s not a problem, we need to know that, too.”
John Gill, special counsel to the Knox County district attorney general, said Thursday that he had received the statement, will review it “and then take appropriate action.”
The mayor said Strickland “has every right as a citizen” to file the report, but added: “I find it very odd that it is a newspaper writer filing a complaint and I’m being asked about it before I have even been informed about it by the Attorney General’s Office.”
Strickland writes a weekly column for the Knoxville News Sentinel, although she is not an employee with the News Sentinel or E.W. Scripps, the paper’s parent company. She filed the complaint as “a citizen of Knox County and (a) properly registered voter.”
Four electronic donations to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s 2010 election totaling $2,000 were not recorded on his campaign finance disclosure reports as required by law, reports Mike Donila. The money was deposited into an “Elect Burchett” PayPal account, an online system that allows people and businesses to transfer money via email. In four other instances, records show that a combined $1,600 was shifted out of that PayPal account and into Burchett’s personal PayPal account, which at times he has used to buy goods from Ebay, an Internet auction site.
The transfers and how the money was used also were not recorded on disclosure reports. The eight transactions took place between Jan. 26, 2010, and Oct. 28, 2010.
Burchett, a Republican, became mayor Sept. 1, 2010. The mayor blamed his estranged wife, Allison Burchett, for the campaign finance law violations, saying he did not have access to the Elect Burchett PayPal account and was unaware funds were moved into his personal PayPal account.
“My wife set up this PayPal account, handled all funds deposited in the account and was the only person with access to the account,” Tim Burchett said in a one-page “press release” that he gave to the News Sentinel.