Archive for the ‘state Senate’ Category

State Democratic Party Chair Condemns High-Dollar ‘Pay-to-Play’ Republican Fundraiser

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Big Money Bash During Legislative Session Likely Breaks Election Finance Laws

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester issued the following statement today condemning the state G.O.P.’s high-dollar fundraiser being hosted by Gov. Bill Haslam at the Governor’s mansion tonight:

We’re now 77 days into Gov. Bill Haslam’s first term. In that time, we have not seen any inkling whatsoever that Republicans have a jobs plan — or even any ideas to put struggling Tennesseans back to work.

On the other hand, we have seen plenty of proposals that: grow the size of government, attack teachers, attack science, restrict religion, blow the tops off our Smoky Mountains, build a state mint, turn away affordable health care, disenfranchise voters, micromanage local school districts from Nashville, make government less transparent, waste millions of tax dollars, stifle economic growth BUT most of all — protect the financial interests of their big dollar campaign donors.

Tonight, those titans of industry are coming to the governor’s mansion to pay the piper.

“Shakedown” Bill Haslam is hosting a fundraiser for the Tennessee Republican Party at $3,000 to $25,000 a ticket — all this smack dab in the middle of legislative session.

What kind of message does this send to the everyday man who can’t afford to spend a year’s salary on Shakedown Bill’s one night soiree?

This event likely shatters the ethics laws designed to keep special interest money out of government, and it surely doesn’t pass muster in the eyes of working Tennesseans.

This governor and the Republican Party are running a pay-to-play scheme on Capitol Hill. Government for sale! All expenses paid for by taxpaying Tennesseans.

In his eight years in office, Gov. Phil Bredesen never held a fundraiser during session. He also mandated that he and his cabinet members would fully disclose their incomes and income sources.

That’s the way it should be.

In contrast, Bill Haslam’s first directive as governor was to repeal Bredesen’s executive order that made financial disclosure for the governor and his cabinet the law of the land.

Hard-working Tennesseans don’t want government business done behind locked doors anymore than they want big money, special interest groups influencing the legislative process.

But that doesn’t seem to bother “Shakedown” Bill and other Republicans, who are standing at the door of their fundraiser with hat in hand

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FACTS:

1. Tennessee law puts major restrictions on fundraising during the legislative session for the governor, state senators, state representatives and state parties.

2010 Tennessee Code?Title 2 – Elections
Chapter 10 – Campaign Finances
Part 3 – Campaign Contributions Limits
2-10-310 – Fund raising during general assembly session.

(a) (1) Except as provided in subdivisions (a)(2) and (a)(3), from the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, no member of the general assembly or a member’s campaign committee or the governor or the governor’s campaign committee shall conduct a fundraiser or solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or member or candidate of the general assembly or governor.
(2) During such period, a member of the general assembly who is a candidate for a local public office shall be permitted to conduct fundraising events and solicit or accept contributions for such campaign for local public office only under the following conditions:
(A) Such fundraising events may be held only in the county in which such member is a candidate for local public office;
(B) Solicitations and acceptance of contributions for such purposes may only be made from individuals residing in such county;
(C) Such fundraising events shall not be held, nor contributions be solicited nor accepted, on state property;
(D) The member shall not be permitted to solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any actual or in-kind contribution during such period from a lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist; and
(E) No other member of the general assembly or the campaign committee of such other member shall be permitted to solicit or accept contributions during such period for the member campaigning for local public office. It shall be unlawful for any lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist to make any contribution to such member’s campaign committee during such period for any purpose.
(3) All contributions raised as a result of fundraising or a fundraising event authorized and held in accordance with subdivision (a)(2) shall be reported on a form prescribed and provided by the registry of election finance for such purposes. Such form shall be filed with and attached to the applicable campaign finance disclosure report. The following disclosures shall be made on such form:
(A) The amount of contributions collected as a result of such fundraising event;
(B) The date and place such fundraising event was held;
(C) The dates on which such contributions were accepted; and
(D) All other information required by law to be reported on a campaign financial disclosure report.
(b) From the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, a political campaign committee controlled by a political party on the national, state, or local level, or by a caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly, that makes contributions to a candidate for the general assembly or governor for election or to defray the expenses of such person’s office shall not conduct a fundraiser, solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or candidate for the general assembly or governor.
(c) Excess funds for election to a local public office are not eligible for transfer under § 2-10-114 to a campaign account for election to the general assembly or governor.

[Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1; 1998, ch. 1062, § 7; 2002, ch. 470, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, §§ 17, 18.]

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Tenn. Republicans Resisting Third Party Access

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Some Tennessee Republicans are showing that the only ideas they want to hear are their own.

Take for instance, the legislative proposal — ordered by a federal court — to give third parties easier access to Tennessee ballots.

In every sense, a third party adds to the free marketplace of ideas in an open society. But Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga is not interested in shopping around for the best ideas.

From The AP:

House Majority Leader Rep. McCormick of Chattanooga

“I don’t want to see us become like Italy and have a dozen different parties and all these splinter groups, and have to make coalitions with them,” said McCormick.

Heavens to Betsy! Working with “different parties?” Having to “make coalitions with them?!” That would just be awful.

The Knoxville News Sentinel says it more eloquently:

A vast majority of American voters cast their ballots for one of two parties, not only recently but going all the way back to the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans in the early days of presidential politics.

But third parties – the generic name given to political parties opposing Democrats and Republicans – deserve to have their names on the ballot and try to win public approval.

The state Legislature has an opportunity to make that happen this term, and that should be one of its accomplishments when the session ends.

Third parties have provided a colorful and thoughtful element to American politics, although none in modern times has been able to displace either of the top two. Nevertheless, there is always that possibility in an open and free society.

Sen. Kyle: "Democracy works better when the rules are fair."

Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis has also spoken in favor of third party access to Tennessee ballots. He suggests 10,000 signatures from eligible voters should be enough to get your preferred party on the ticket.

“My goal is to allow people who believe they’re in the Tea Party or the Green Party or the Libertarian Party to get on the ballot,” Kyle said. “Any organization that can get 10,000 signatures is as legitimate a political entity as any other. People should be able to stand up there and say I believe in these principles. I just think democracy works better when the rules are fair.”

Well said, Sen. Kyle. Well said.

The Jackson Sun: Republican Bill ‘an Embarrassment to Tennessee’

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

From The Jackson Sun:

A bill in the state legislature that would require federal agents to obtain written permission from the local sheriff before making an arrest for a non-federal offense is ridiculous and should be voted down.

The bill has been submitted by state Sen. Stacey Campfield and state Rep. Bill Dunn, Republicans from Knoxville. It would also require federal agents to get written permission from the local sheriff before conducting a search or confiscating property.

We find it intriguing that while he is a sponsor of the bill, Dunn says he’s not ready to talk about it. Campfield says the bill is an outgrowth of a Supreme Court decision that says the sheriff should have the “ultimate decision-making power.”

“I think we need to start doing some things that show where that power lies,” Campfield said.

And there we have it. This boils down to a power play.

Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork says he is not aware of any problems with federal agents overstepping their authority or trampling state rights. In fact, he noted the excellent cooperation shown between local, state and federal authorities in the hunt that centered on Jackson this month for two fugitives from Louisiana.

Woolfork says the law would limit federal authorities at the expense of public safety.

State Sen. Roy Herron, a Democrat from Dresden, says the law would only help “every terrorist, Mafia thug, drug lord or corrupt politician” and would potentially tie the hands of the FBI in its fight against illegal drugs and terrorism.

Laws such as the one proposed by Campfield and Dunn are an embarrassment to Tennessee. They say our lawmakers would rather make political statements than address the real problems of our state.

Unemployment. Education. Crime. Those are issues that deserve the full attention of our state legislature. And they deserve it now.

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TNDP Chair: Report Ramsey for Government Waste on His New Fundraising Website

Monday, March 28th, 2011

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester issued the following statement in response to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s new fundraising initiative:

“I appreciate Lt. Gov. Ramsey’s push for ending redundant and wasteful government services. And it didn’t take long to find a state employee squandering tax dollars. For waste, fraud and abuse, look no further than Lt. Gov. Ramsey, who today sent out a press release for his fundraising organization RAAMPAC — all paid for with your tax dollars. That’s right: the same site that advocates a streamlined government also wants to streamline its data collection for Ramsey’s fundraising organization — and it’s being promoted by state employees on state time, paid for with taxpayer dollars. Looks like Lt. Gov. Ramsey is right: His site does encourage Tennesseans to point out government waste. And we’re starting with him.”

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