campaign finance

Bill Lee’s first campaign disclosure (PR version): $1.375M in donations matched with $1.375M self-financing

News release from the Bill Lee campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Republican gubernatorial candidate and conservative Williamson County businessman and cattle farmer Bill Lee announced that his campaign for governor has raised over $1.375 million in a little over two months of active campaigning, with over $2.5 million cash on hand to end the report period.  In addition to what was raised, Bill and his wife Maria committed to match in the amount of $1.375 million due to the overwhelming level of enthusiasm and support he has received across the state.

 “Maria and I are truly humbled and honored to see the outpouring of support from across Tennessee with folks wanting to help this campaign,” said Lee.

Lee continued, “Since we announced on April 24th, we have traveled the state meeting everyone we can and sharing my vision for Tennessee. The response has been so overwhelmingly positive, we felt compelled to match the donations in an effort to thank everyone for their support and show our continued commitment to them throughout this campaign.”  Continue reading

Boyd’s first campaign disclosure (PR version): $2M in self-financing, $2.3M in donations

News release from Randy Boyd campaign

 Nashville, Tenn. — Randy Boyd, Republican candidate for Governor, announced today that his first campaign finance report will show his campaign collected more than $4.3 million in total contributions from donors in all 95 Tennessee counties in just four short months of campaigning.

“I am deeply grateful for the early and generous support from so many Tennesseans,” Boyd said. “There are many ways to contribute and to help our campaign effort, but these early dollars from all 95 counties mean a lot and are a good indication of my commitment to campaign in and earn the support of every corner of our state.”

During the gubernatorial campaign’s first financial reporting period, Boyd’s report will show he raised more than $2.3 million from over 1,500 grassroots donations from March 1 to June 30 representing all 95 counties – and that he contributed another $2 million to demonstrate his own personal support for his growing statewide campaign.

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Durham showing ‘total disrespect’ for campaign finance laws with new filing?

Former Rep. Jeremy Durham, who reported to the Registry of Election Finance in January that he had a $109,147.39 remaining in his old campaign account, filed a report Thursday that left blank the space for filling in January amount and instead there’s a handwritten note that reads “Ask Moeck.” In the space for the amount in the campaign fund on June 30 there’s the figure $65,204.94. There are zeros in all the places to be filled in with receipts and expenditures.

The Tennessean got an explanation of sorts from Peter Strianse, an attorney defending the ousted-from-office Franklin  Republican against a Registry finding that he repeatedly violated state campaign finance laws. Excerpt from the newspaper’s report:

Jay Moeck is the registry’s investigator, whose probe into Durham’s campaign finances resulted in the recent record-setting $465,000 fine levied against Durham at a June registry meeting.

… Strianse said Thursday his client hasn’t spent any campaign money since January but wasn’t sure what balance to include on his latest report.

“As the campaign finance report clearly states, Mr. Durham’s campaign account has had no activity this year,” Strianse said in an email.

“Since we have yet to receive anything in writing from the registry regarding the results of the June 7 meeting, we are unable to divine what number the registry expects Mr. Durham to include in the previous balance section of the report pending appeal of their unsupported decision.”

…Registry member Tom Lawless saw Durham’s comment about Moeck as an affront to the state.

“That shows his mindset for an authority that oversees these matters and his total disregard for the law,” Lawless said Thursday.

…“He is either admitting that as a member of leadership he couldn’t file a report accurately or completely, which in and of itself is an indictment against him for just arrogance or disregard for a system he was a part of,” Lawless said.

“Or he has filed false reports, and that in and of itself is another issue that the registry may or may not have to address.”

Duncan: Payments of campaign funds to son ‘has been done according to law’

U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. is defending payments from his campaign account to his son, John J. Duncan III, reports the News Sentinel. The newspaper’s report pegs the payments since the younger Duncan’s conviction of official misconduct as Knox County trustee at $293,250, a bit less than reported earlier by the Nashville Post.

“Every expenditure from my campaign has been done according to law and in compliance with all pertinent regulations of the Federal Election Commission,” (Congressman Duncan) said. “Many members of Congress, past and present, have paid family members for campaign work. The fact that family members have run, and worked in, my campaigns has been public for a long time.

“In the last four years, I have paid my son, John, who has been in charge of my entire political operation doing everything from putting up yard signs and answering campaign calls to conducting polls, giving speeches, and raising funds. He was paid far less than many campaign managers and consultants while doing many things that they would not do.”

“Every expenditure in relation to my family was done because I got family members to do things for much less than Washington campaign people. These are important positions of trust and I have the utmost trust in my family.”

Note: Previous post HERE.

Duncan paid $316K in campaign funds to son; other family members also on payroll

U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr.’s congressional campaign account has paid the Knoxville Republican’s son, John J. Duncan III, $316,500 in salary since July, 2013, when the younger Duncan pleaded guilty to misconduct charges and resigned as Knox County trustee, reports the Nashville Post.

The campaign also pays for his son’s cellphone and reimburses his mileage, many meals and multiple other expenses, according to reporter Cari Wade Gervin’s review of campaign disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The article says that the veteran officeholder has also made thousands of dollars in payments to other family members – another son, a niece, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and his sister – through his campaign fund and through his political action committee, Road to Victory PAC.

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Democrat Karl Dean collects $1.2M for gubernatorial campaign

News release from Karl Dean campaign

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 6, 2017) — The Karl Dean for Governor campaign has quickly gained strong statewide support, raising over $1.2 million from more than 3,000 contributions in just four months. These are the totals for the campaign’s first financial reporting period, which ended on June 30.

As the former Mayor of Nashville, Dean is most well known in Middle Tennessee. However, his campaign’s broad outreach has garnered donations from 77 of the state’s 95 counties. Forty-three percent of contributions are from outside the city of Nashville.

“This marks the most raised in a single reporting period for any Democrat running statewide in Tennessee in a decade,” the campaign’s Finance Chairman Charles Robert Bone said. “Tennesseans are interested in progress, not partisan politics. Our state has benefited from two successful governors in a row who were former mayors, just like Karl. Our fundraising totals demonstrate that Karl’s executive experience and his common-sense approach are resonating with people across Tennessee.”

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State Rep. Harry Brooks won’t seek reelection; will donate leftover campaign funds to schools

Republican Rep. Harry Brooks, who has not faced an opponent since winning the House District 19 seat in 2002, announced Wednesday he will not seek another term next year and will donate about $66,000 in leftover campaign funds to four Knox County schools.

Brooks, 70, chairman of the House Education Administration and Planning Committee, made the formal announcement at a news conference where local officials – including Knox County Schools Board of Education Chair Patti Bounds, Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett – were on hand to thank Brooks for the money, reports the News Sentinel.

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Complaint filed with FEC contends campaign finance law violated by Kelsey congressional campaign

News release from Campaign Legal Center

WASHINGTON –  Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Democracy 21 (D21) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and will file with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against former Congressional candidate Brian Kelsey and others, including the American Conservative Union (ACU), for their part in a scheme to circumvent contribution limits and disclosure laws by illegally funneling funds from Kelsey’s state account through intermediaries to secretly support Kelsey’s run for U.S. Congress in 2016.

“In order to disguise the illegal transfer of prohibited state money into his federal race, it appears that Kelsey concocted a scheme to pass the money through a dark money daisy chain and straw donor reimbursement plot,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. “Kelsey appears to have stacked legal violation on top of legal violation, and we anticipate that the FEC and DOJ will take this very seriously.”

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Black raising money for reelection to Congress, not a run for governor

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who has been mulling a run for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination for months, has scheduled a Washington fundraiser this week — $2,500 admission for a “PAC host,” $1,000 for a “PAC attendee” and $500 for a non-PAC person – with proceeds earmarked for her congressional reelection campaign fund, reports Tennessee Star.

Thursday night’s fundraiser will be held at Ocean Prime, one of the premiere eating establishments on Capitol Hill.

The menu, which features a Ribeye Steak for $52 and Dutch Harbor King Crab Legs for $65, is well suited to Washington lobbyists, but a far cry from the Cracker Barrels that dot the I-40 corridor of the Sixth Congressional District Black represents in Tennessee.

The news of Black’s Congressional fundraiser has veteran political tea leaf readers across the state of Tennessee scratching their heads.

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Addiction medication company reported pushing product through legislation, donating to TN legislators

Alkermes, a company that makes an addiction treatment medication called Vivitrol, has been pushing legislation at the state level that would give its product a preference over others, according to a National Public Radio report. At the same time, affliliate WPLN reports that the Alkermes donated more than $20,000 to Tennessee legislators last year.

State records show Alkermes registered four lobbyists for this year’s Tennessee legislative session. The company’s PAC registered to make state-level donations late in 2015, beginning actual donations in January of 2016.

There were several bills filed this year dealing with addiction treatment – including some that appear to be placeholder “caption bills” designed to be amended later. But a quick skim of legislative records indicates none advanced out of committee.

The NPR report – bearing the headline “A Drugmaker Tries To Cash In On The Opioid Epidemic, One State Law At A Time” — focuses on Indiana, where a registered Alkermes lobbyist, who also heads a mental health advocacy group, drafted a bill that was approved after what some thought was a misleading promotional effort. Excerpt:

He said the legislation would move the state “toward evidence-based treatment.”

But the bill wouldn’t do that. Instead, it would cement rules making it harder to access certain addiction medications — medications that many patients rely on. The goal was to steer doctors toward a specific brand-name drug: Vivitrol.

… His efforts have helped turn Indiana into what Alkermes describes in investor documents as an “up-and-coming” state, where the drug’s sales are poised to jump dramatically.

McCaffrey’s work promoting Vivitrol via legislation in Indiana is part of a larger pattern. An investigation by NPR and Side Effects Public Media has found that in statehouses across the country, and in Congress, Alkermes is pushing Vivitrol while contributing to misconceptions and stigma about other medications used to treat opioid addiction.

From WPLN:

In Tennessee, Alkermes has made 30 contributions to Democratic and Republican lawmakers and to political action committees. All of those were between January of last year and the November election. The company has also hired lobbyists.

It’s not clear, though, this early-stage political push has been persuasive. Marie Williams, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, says Vivitrol can be an effective treatment for some opioid abusers, but Tennessee doesn’t prefer it to other therapies.

“What we want is for people to get avenues of treatment, and we are for any avenue that will help you get into recovery and stay in recovery,” she says.

But, state officials add, drug courts are using Vivitrol more often. And that’s where many decisions about treatment are made.

Note: House Speaker Beth Harwell, who recently urged Attorney General Herbert Slatery to file a lawsuit against manufacturers of opioid drugs, was one of the bigger beneficiaries of Alkermes donations — $1,000 to her reelection campaign and $500 to her leadership PAC.

The Alkermes PAC on June 6 filed an amended version of its 4th quarter 2016 disclosure with the Registry of Election Finance that appears to duplicate most of the donations listed in a previous disclosure. (The duplication’s are not included in reaching the count of more than $20,000 to 30 legislators and PACs.)  Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance,  says via email that the Registry has sent a letter asking for clarification of the filing.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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