Veteran political operative Tom Ingram will be paid up to $240,000 for a year’s work “developing communications strategies” for the University of Tennessee in connection with a lawsuit contending UT was a “hostile sexual environment” for women, reports the News Sentinel.
If paid to the maximum, that would be more money than the highest-paid communications executive for the university.
While the one-page agreement, a letter from UT to its outside legal counsel, doesn’t identify the specialist, Tom Ingram confirmed he continues to work for the Nashville-based Neal & Harwell law firm, which represents the university in Title IX matters.
Even though the lawsuit is settled, work remains to be done on media inquiries to UT President Joe DiPietro on the forming of an independent commission that will review the UT system’s policies and programs to address sexual assault, Ingram said.
He said issues like Title IX get “so complicated and so multi-dimensional” that the settlement, which looks like an end, really isn’t the end of the follow-up work.
Ingram said there is no set time frame for when that work will end.
A paid consultant for Haslam until last July, Ingram is the founder of Nashville-based public relations and lobbying firm the Ingram Group. (Note: He’s also been a longtime political aide to U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.)
“It’s a shame that they (the university) were in that situation,” said Williams, whose lobbying organization focuses on government accountability. “How much difference it was having Tom (Ingram) do that? I don’t know.”
He wonders what the university received that it couldn’t get from its communications staff.
…The letter confirming Ingram’s hiring, dated May 2, doesn’t include specifics of the “communications strategies” he was hired to execute. His services, however, are on top of the more than $424,500 in combined salary for communications leaders for the system and campus, Vice President Tonja Johnson and former Vice Chancellor Margie Nichols.
Ingram and his employees, through the law firm, are helping with “inquiries about the Title IX case” and “providing communications support for follow-up efforts that are part of the settlement,” Johnson said in an email.
Those efforts include the president’s commission and more, such as employee training.
With Gov. Bill Haslam’s approval, the state has hired a private lawyer and veteran political operative Tom Ingram to help the University of Tennessee deal with a lawsuit over alleged mishandling of sexual violence cases, reports the News Sentinel.
The attorney was hired more than seven months before the lawsuit was filed and about two weeks before UT President Joe DiPietro was notified of Title IX complaints sent to the U.S. Department of Education.
Bill Ramsey, a lawyer with the Nashville-based firm Neal & Harwell, was hired as “additional counsel to provide legal services” to the state and university, according to a letter from Gov. Bill Haslam to Ramsey dated June 18.
“They (the university) understood this lawsuit would be coming,” Ramsey said.
He said one reason to hire outside counsel is because UT lawyers are often involved in student discipline cases, so those lawyers might be witnesses for the lawsuit, which alleges discipline cases have been mishandled.
Since Ramsey’s June hiring, the state has paid more than $100,000 to Neal & Harwell. And this month, Ramsey hired Tom Ingram, who was a paid consultant for Haslam until last July and is the founder of Nashville-based public relations and lobbying firm the Ingram Group.
Ramsey will meet with the UT Board of Trustees during a closed session next Thursday before the board’s regularly scheduled meeting the same day at UT-Martin.
…Although Ramsey was hired months before the federal lawsuit was filed in Nashville, his hiring was just weeks before DiPietro was notified on June 29 and again on July 1 that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights would be investigating complaints about the Knoxville campus.
Ramsey said Thursday that his hiring was not related to those complaints and responses to the OCR were handled by UT legal counsel.
Those complaints to the OCR were filed on May 15 and May 18 and allege that UT failed to respond “promptly and adequately” to cases of sexual violence, creating a “hostile environment” for complainants.
…The federal lawsuit against the university alleges that UT violates Title IX laws and has a “hostile sexual environment.” The complaint was filed Feb. 9 in Nashville and amended on Feb. 24 for eight unidentified female plaintiffs. Seven of the women have cases involving student athletes.
Veteran Tennessee political operative Tom Ingram has joined the presidential campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, reports The Tennessean.
Ingram worked as an adviser to Gov. Bill Haslam. He’s also advised U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and previously served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Most recently Ingram advised the Nashville mayoral campaign of Charles Robert Bone.
“I think this is an incredibly important election, and I have a lot of respect for the governor. Watched him as governor of Florida and saw his accomplishments there and his leadership style there,” Ingram said in a phone interview Thursday.
Bush is considered a moderate, establishment Republican, the same political bent as many of Ingram’s former clients. The former governor has fallen behind controversial business tycoon Donald Trump in some national polling, but remains one of the most likely candidates to win the Republican presidential nomination.
Ingram said he’ll be working on the delegate selection process in Tennessee and other states, and do whatever else he can to help the campaign. He’ll be a paid adviser.
…”It’ll be a challenge, because Tennessee in the last few presidential primaries has kind of gone to the fringes,” Ingram said.
“The expectations are realistic, but I think the opportunity is there for him to present himself, for the people of Tennessee to get to know him for who he is, not who his family is, and I think they’ll be impressed if they do that.”
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A former Democratic congressman and a prominent Republican political operative on Tuesday called for ending untraceable spending for and against candidates in Tennessee and around the country.
Former Rep. John Tanner said that the lack of controls over spending has created a system of what he called “election by auction.”
Tanner acknowledged it would take another legal case to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case that allows corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited amounts of money in campaigns. But he urged Congress to change the tax code to eliminate anonymity provisions that can currently shield big donors’ identities.
“I don’t see how anyone could argue that that is a function of an open, democratic society for people to be able to be anonymous in the political process,” Tanner said at a roundtable discussion organized by the Crockett Policy Institute.
GOP political strategist Tom Ingram, who has run the campaigns of U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam, said the lack of restraints on spending has made it nearly impossible for anyone without personal wealth to become a candidate for statewide or federal office.
Veteran political operative Tom Ingram has confirmed that he’s no longer serving as a paid consultant to Gov. Bill Haslam, ending a financial relationship that dates back to 2009.
“We’re still friends and I’d do anything I could to help him personally,” Ingram said in an interview.
He declined comment on reports the move was sparked by the governor refusing to follow Ingram’s advice on some matters, including Insure Tennessee. Ingram said he decided it was best to end official consulting “to avoid any issues or questions.”
As founder and leader of the Nashville-based Ingram Group, a public relations and lobbying firm, Ingram is also a registered lobbyist for 16 clients during the 2015 legislative session, according to Tennessee Ethics Commission filings.
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For a party once accustomed to dominating state politics, the outlook for Tennessee Democrats is bleak.
Over the past decade, Democrats went from controlling all three branches of state government to giving up GOP supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, losing two governor’s races by wide margins and watching as the state Supreme Court appointed the first Republican attorney general since Reconstruction.
The heavy erosion of Democratic power has left them with little sway at the state Capitol on issues like Medicaid expansion, guns, education and abortion. And while Republicans in charge have pushed an increasingly conservative agenda, so far there’s been no sign of a new opening for Democrats.
Still, longtime Republican campaign adviser Tom Ingram said the GOP’s takeover after decades in the political wilderness shows that no party can claim a permanent hold on power.
“When political parties get too successful they usually get arrogant and make mistakes and set up the return of the other party,” he said. “It will turn again. I don’t know when, but it will.”
Democrats hoping to revive their party’s fortunes recognize that there are few quick fixes.
Tom Ingram, who as political consultant to Lamar Alexander and Bill Haslam is dedicated to making both men look good, did an interview with the Nashville Business Journal. Excerpts:
So how does Haslam approach the job differently than Alexander and others before him?
“If Lamar saw a roadblock out there he would step back and be very strategic about approaching the roadblock,” Ingram said. “When Bill sees a roadblock, he just takes it head on and works his way through it until it falls.”
Ingram added that Haslam has a “more hands-on approach” than Alexander.
“Bill stays very engaged with all his people. He can juggle lots of different balls at a time, and will juggle lots of different balls at a time,” Ingram said. “He may have two or three things that are his priorities, but he’s probably involved in six or eight other things at the same time.”
Meanwhile, Ingram said, Alexander was, and continues to be, more inclined to focus on two or three main issues or topics.
…“You may have a super-majority of Republicans in the Legislature, but you then have battles among the Republicans.”
“Bill has to go to his own party, and the difference within his own party are sometimes even greater than the differences between Republicans and Democrats” when Alexander was governor, Ingram added.
The issue has come up with some of the governor’s top priorities, particularly Common Core implementation this past session (the House at one point voted to delay the roll out of the education standards for two years).
“If you go back to Lamar, a Republican governor working with a Democrat Legislature, trying to pass the Master Teacher Better Schools Package was similar in scale to what Common Core is now,” Ingram said. “It was tough then, and it’s tough now.”
Ingram said that reaching compromises today are harder to come by, particularly because of lawmakers “digging in on ideological tenets.”
News release from The Ingram Group:
Beecher Frasier, former Democrat “Blue Dog” Chief of Staff in the U. S. House of Representatives and campaign manager of former Congressman Harold Ford Jr.’s 2006 Senate race will become a principal of The Ingram Group and The First Group Feb. 1, Tom Ingram, founder and chairman of the Nashville-Washington consulting business, announced today.
“We’re very excited to have Beecher join our team. He knows and navigates Tennessee and Washington with an engaging personality and tremendous knowledge, experience and skill,” Ingram said. “He obviously brings U. S House experience and strength to our team, but is also a very broad-gauged professional.”
“Tom has been a mentor of mine for many years and the opportunity to join him and his team is truly an honor,” Frasier said.
The two friends were pitted against each other when U.S. Senator Bob Corker and Ford went head to head for an open U.S. Senate seat. GOP Senate leadership, then Majority Leader Bill Frist and Whip Mitch McConnell, drafted Ingram to take a leave from his post as U. S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Chief of Staff in 2006 to manage the last five weeks of Corker’s flagging bid for the Senate. At the time, polls showed Corker falling behind Ford by as much as nine points. The race ended Nov. 5 of that year with Corker slightly edging out Ford for the seat.
Frasier and Ingram, both alumni of Lipscomb University in Nashville and long-time friends before the Corker-Ford race, overnight became fierce adversaries. “We pledged to each other to be friends when it was over and to call each other’s hand in the meantime if things got out of hand,” Ingram recalls. “We called each other several times.”
Though Gov. Bill Haslam’s personal payments to Tom Ingram over the past two years have been repeatedly described as covering non-political consulting, Ingram has elsewhere depicted his relationship with the governor as “campaign consultant” and “political consultant,” reports Andy Sher.
A review of Ingram’s 17 state lobbyist registrations with the Tennessee Ethics Commission turns up three instances in the past 22 months in which Ingram’s relationship with Haslam is identified as either “campaign consultant to the governor” or “consultant to campaign for governor.”
Filings involved were Ingram’s 2012 and 2013 registrations for Xerox Corp. and a 2013 filing for McGuiness Group.
Ingram disclosed the relationship under a provision requiring lobbyists to disclose what “business arrangements” they have with government officials.
In his other registrations, Ingram described his relationship with the governor in terms such as “consultant,” “general consultant,” “independent consultant” and sometimes as “political consultant.”
Ingram said… he didn’t file the disclosures himself, noting they’re “filed on a pro forma basis,” indicating it was done by someone else at The Ingram Group, the public affairs and strategic consulting firm that bears his name.
…Former Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said he plans to look at the registrations before he refiles a complaint against Haslam, a Republican, later this month with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.
“I intend to review that and certainly give those [registrations] consideration” as he gathers documents to restate his case, which registry members dismissed this month, Forrester said.
“If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck it is a duck. This is hair-splitting by the governor,” said Forrester, who alleges Haslam broke the law by paying Ingram personally instead of from his campaign account, which is publicly disclosed.
…Ingram said Friday he had properly disclosed his business arrangement with Haslam all along as required and none of his paid work involved the 2014 campaign.
As for the three registrations, he said “whatever it said, we said. But whatever we did, we did.”