Boyd supporter behind group running toilet flushing ads against Black

Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black prepares to pick up her petition to file as a candidate for Tennessee governor in Gallatin on Feb. 5, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black prepares to pick up her petition to file as a candidate for Tennessee governor in Gallatin on Feb. 5, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The AP’s Jonathan Mattise has confirmed that the group running those toilet flushing radio ads attacking U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s gubernatorial aspirations is funded by a supporter of fellow GOP candidate Randy Boyd.

The group called the Tennessee Jobs Now PAC has been running the spots on Nashville-area radio. It features sounds of a man flushing money down the toilet and saying that he’d rather dispose of his money that way than than let “dishonest Diane Black” get her hands on it.

The group’s filing with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance initially indicated that the $200,000 it had received was all in the form for unitemized contributions. When the AP followed up to ask about the filing, the registry said that it was a data-entry error and that the entire amount had come from Joe Hollingsworth Jr. of Clinton, who has also given $8,000 to Boyd’s campaign.

Hollingsworth is the father of Trey Hollingsworth, the Tennessee transplant who was elected to Congress in Indiana in 2016. A group called Indiana Jobs Now spent heavily in that race, and the Tennessee group’s website is registered to the same GOP operative, James McKay of New Hampshire.

The radio spot rehashes a TV spot Lou Ann Zelenik ran against Black during their first congressional primary contest in 2010, implying that Black as a state senator directed state money to Aegis Sciences, the drug testing company run by her husband (which he has since left). The company lost a defamation lawsuit against Zelenik, who in turn sued for malice and willful intent.

The radio ads were initially pulled from the airwaves by Nashville-area stations WWTN, WGFX, and WLAC amid pressure form the Black campaign’s lawyers, but later returned in a slightly revised form.

The Tennessee Jobs Now PAC lists a Nashville address, and its treasurer as Maria Wojciechowski of Herndon, Va., who is also registered with the Federal Election Commission as treasurer of the Future45 Super PAC. The Center for Responsive Politics says that PAC spent more than $24 million on ads attacking Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Media reports indicate Future45 PAC is substantially funded by billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts and Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

The elder Hollingsworth publicly contemplated a Democratic bid for governor of Tennessee in 1998, but ultimately bowed out.

Black spokesman Chris Hartline has said voters “won’t be distracted by false attacks from Randy Boyd and his out-of-state allies.” The Boyd campaign has denied it has anything to do with the ad.

 

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