Tom Humphrey

Tom Humphrey

Tori Venable is new TN head of Americans for Prosperity

Press release from Americans for Prosperity

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee (AFP-TN), the leading grassroots advocacy organization in Tennessee with over 46,000 activists, announced Tori Venable will head the chapter as State Director.

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Haslam on ‘critical’ need for politicians to have spiritual discipline

Excerpts from an article Gov. Bill Haslam wrote – headlined “Public Service as a Spiritual Discipline” — for Comment, a publication of Cardus, which is described as “a think tank devoted to renewing North American social architecture, rooted in 2000 years of Christian social thought”:

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TN Department of Health gets new assistant commissioner

Press release from state Department of Health

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Valerie Oliver, MBA, CPA has been named assistant commissioner for administrative services for the Tennessee Department of Health. She comes to this position after serving as department controller for TDH since April 2015.

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Election officials to legislators: No major problem with voting fraud in TN — for now

At a Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing Tuesday, Tennessee election officials tried to allay legislator fears that the state’s voting records are vulnerable to hacking, reports WPLN. At the same time, they acknowledged there’s a significant risk that outside groups could try to disrupt future elections.

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New PAC’s radio ad bashes ‘Dishonest Diane Black’

A political action committee recently registered in Tennessee is running radio ads attacking “dishonest Diane Black” as a gubernatorial candidate, contending she “steered millions of dollars in no bid, state contracts to her husband’s company.”

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Pro-Blackburn PAC poll finds she leads Fincher 63% to 21%

A poll commissioned by Club for Growth PAC, which has endorsed U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn  in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, finds her leading former Rep. Stephen Fincher 66 percent to 13 percent among likely GOP primary voters with 21 percent undecided. The group also did a poll matching Blackburn against retiring Sen. Bob Corker and reported her leading the incumbent 63 percent to 25 percent.

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Comptroller questions TBI spending over budget, using reserves

Press release from state Comptroller’s Office:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released a special report examining several aspects of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s fiscal operations, including an analysis of TBI’s budget, the procurement of its Pilatus airplane, staffing, and grants and contracts.

The special report was initiated after Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) called for an examination of TBI’s budgeting and accounting practices. The General Assembly included language within the 2017 Appropriations Act requiring the review to be complete by January 31, 2018.

The Comptroller’s Office found TBI’s expenditures have exceeded its budgeted estimates since 2014, and TBI has relied on its various reserve funds for its continued operations. These accounts have been greatly diminished as TBI has used these funds. The Comptroller’s Office concluded that TBI and the Department of Finance and Administration should commit to improve communication during the budget process.

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DesJarlais: If earmarks are restored, ‘I can be more of a spokesman for the people’

Even some conservatives – including Tennessee’s U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais — seem open to return to earmarks since President Trump floated the idea, reports The Hill.

But don’t call them earmarks: lawmakers say they’re in favor of “congressionally directed spending.”

In a sign of the changing attitudes on Capitol Hill, conservatives are divided on whether to reverse the earmark ban in place since Republicans took over the House majority after the 2010 midterm elections.

Conservative leaders like House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reject the idea, warning that allowing lawmakers to carve out spending for projects specifically designed to benefit their districts would undercut Trump’s “drain the swamp” message.

…But even some Freedom Caucus members sound open to a return to earmarks ahead of House Rules Committee hearings next week on whether to revive the practice.

“I don’t know that I’m opposed to it,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, told The Hill. “We’re spending more money than ever and it’s still going out, but it doesn’t seem to come to my district.”

If earmarks were restored, “I can be more of a spokesman for the people in Tennessee who need it,” DesJarlais continued. “There is an overpass in Rutherford County that we need to get funding for. We’ve got things up in Nashville, the Percy Priest Reservoir … so yeah, I would like to have a better voice.

“I don’t know if earmarks is the answer. I’ve never had them, so I don’t know if it’s good or not.”

Other conservatives also expressed openness to allowing earmarks or something similar, saying that ensuring money for specific projects would give the legislative branch more power.

… Trump said at a White House meeting with roughly two dozen lawmakers on Tuesday that Congress should consider allowing earmarks again.

He suggested that doing so would allow Congress to function better, lamenting that the “levels of hatred” among Republicans and Democrats are “out of control.”

“Maybe we should think about it,” Trump said. “Maybe all of you should think about going back to a form of earmarks. You should do it.”

“We have to put better controls because it got a little out of hand, but that brings people together,” Trump added.

Newbern mayor backs out of challenging Rep. Sanderson in House District 77

Newbern Mayor Justin Wright, who last summer announced he would challenge state Rep. Bill Sanderson of Kenton in the 2018 Republican primary for House District 77, has changed his mind and withdrawn from the race, reports the Dyersburg State Gazette.

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There’s now a ‘Business Leaders for Bill Lee Coalition’

Press release from Bill Lee campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Today, Williamson County businessman and farmer Bill Lee announced over 100 business leaders from across Tennessee have joined to form the Business Leaders for Bill Lee Coalition. The group, encompassing every corner of the state, will serve in an advisory role to Lee on business and economic development issues and help spread Bill’s ideas within their professional and local communities.

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