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Peyton Manning on seeking Lamar’s seat: ‘I have no interest in the political world’

Back in January, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander dismissed as “unfounded rumor” speculation that the veteran Tennessee lawmaker would not seek re-election when his current term ends and Peyton Manning would run for his seat. Now the retired NFL quarterback, once the star quarterback at the University of Tennessee, says pretty much the same thing, reports the Denver Post.

Since retiring from the NFL in March 2016, Manning has been the subject of much speculation about his next career, which has ranged from potentially joining the Colts’ front office (he didn’t) to running for the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is reported to be weighing retirement instead of running for a fourth term in 2020, and Manning’s name has been floated as a potential candidate. (Previous post HERE.)

“I don’t know where that came from. Last week I was going to run a team, this week I going to apparently run for Senate, and next week I’ll be an astronaut,” Manning said. “I have no interest in the political world, but would like to continue serving communities.”

Manning said he’s “excited about the next chapter of my career” and that he has “a bucket list” of things he wants to do before finding something new.

Anti-tax leader: Revised Haslam transportation bill is not a tax increase

The latest version of Gov. Bill Haslam’s transportation legislation has received a blessing from Grover Norquist, a national anti-tax activist, who says the package overall reduces more taxes than it increases. Haslam, who sought Norquist’s opinion, says that is “a really big deal,” reports the Times-Free Press.

Under the version of Haslam’s plan advancing in the Senate, the state would increase its tax on gas by 6 cents per gallon and diesel by 10 cents per gallon, but also cut other areas including the sales tax on groceries, the tax on earnings from stocks and bonds and corporate taxes owed by large manufacturers.

Norquist, founder of the group Americans for Tax Reform, said in a letter to state House and Senate members that the most recent version of the governor’s bill advancing in Senate represents a “net tax cut,” and does not violate lawmakers’ pledges to not raise taxes.

He also noted that the Senate had removed a proposal to link fuel taxes to inflation, “which means gas tax hikes will not be put on autopilot.”

The Haslam administration sought Norquist’s input on the Tennessee plan after seeing that Americans for Tax Reform supported gas tax increases in New Jersey and South Carolina when they were coupled with tax relief.

Norquist’s position on the Tennessee gas tax proposal contrasts with the strong opposition voiced by the state chapter of Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch.

…Haslam told reporters he considers the announcement from Norquist to be “a really big deal.”

“This is somebody who’s kind of staked his whole thing on we should never have tax increases,” Haslam said. “Whether you agree or not, the fact that the founder of that movement — who had people sign no-new-tax pledges — says this is not a tax increase.”

Note: The Nashville Post has full text of the letter HERE. Meanwhile, Tennessee Star reports Norquist’s support has caused a backlash.

(T)he fierce backlash from conservative opponents of the gas tax increase in Tennessee to the last minute attempt by supporters of the governor’s plan to bolster its chances by calling in a “celebrity ” who has never lived in the state and knows little of the intricacies of the bill or the state’s budget, spells more, rather than less, political trouble ahead for the governor and his allies.

TN Student Freedom of Expression Act is no longer ‘informally, the Milo bill’

State Rep. Martin Daniel has dropped use of Milo Yiannopoulos’ name in promoting passage of a college campus “free speech” bill since the Breitbart News columnist  condoned sex between grown men and underage boys, according to The Nashville Scene and The Tennessean.

After a video of Yiannopoulos’ remarks became public, the Conservative Political Action Conference canceled his scheduled speech before the group and his publisher canceled plans to print a book he has written.

When contacted initially on Monday about the controversy Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin says Daniel, R-Knoxville, told her had “seen some headlines” but hadn’t “really read anything” about the controversy and generally downplayed the past prominent references to Yiannopoulos.

During a press conference (Feb. 9) that featured a number of random speakers, including Fox talking head Scottie Nell Hughes, Daniel proclaimed his legislation is needed in Tennessee after protests over a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California in Berkeley turned partially violent.

“This bill, entitled the ‘Tennessee Student Freedom of Expression Act,’ or, informally, the Milo Bill, will, one, create an official university policy that strongly affirms the importance of free expression as a fundamental right,” Daniel said at the press conference, shortly before a statement from Yiannopoulos himself was read by another woman in attendance.

From The Tennessean:

On Monday, the East Tennessee lawmaker backtracked on his endorsement of Milo, sending out a series of tweets saying his bill would be known as “the Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, & the MLK JR. bill.”

In an interview, he said he was not familiar with the full extent of the video controversy.

“It seemed appropriate at that time to name it after someone who has been persecuted for freedom of speech,” Daniel said.

As for the apparent name change, Daniel said the bill is bigger than just one person or incident.

“What we want to do is make it clear that this bill is about freedom of speech, not just one person,” he said. “We are going to reference people who have been free speech advocates in the past.”

The bill (HB739) is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald.”

Note: Gervin’s report includes a partial transcript of Yiannopoulos’ comments, commentary and a recounting of abusive and obscene tweets sent to her after an earlier posting on the Feb. 9 news conference. A previous post is HERE and a copy of the news release announcing the press conference is below.

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‘Unfounded rumor:’ Peyton Manning eyes run for Lamar’s Senate seat

A recent bit of political gossip suggests that Sen. Lamar Alexander won’t run for reelection in 2020 and that Peyton Manning might run to succeed him. An Alexander spokesman calls the report, which appeared this week in a Politico notebook, an “unfounded rumor,” reports the Times-Free Press.

Here’s the brief note:  “BUZZ: Several Republicans are wondering whether Peyton Manning will run for Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) seat when he retires. GOP insiders say Alexander won’t run for another term in 2020.”

“Like everybody else in Tennessee, Senator Alexander is a big fan of Peyton Manning,” said Alexander Chief of Staff David Cleary in a statement. “The senator has made no formal decision about 2020 but he’s fundraising and taking the steps one would take to prepare for re-election.”

Cleary noted Alexander had a 60 percent job approval rating in a December poll conducted by Vanderbilt University poll “and is busy as chairman of the Senate Health and Education Committee repairing the damage caused by Obamacare and implementing the law fixing No Child Left Behind.”

Cleary said Alexander, 76, also remains “focused on maintaining a Republican majority in 2018 and helping Senator Corker with his campaign in Tennessee.”

…Tom Ingram, Alexander’s long-time political adviser, said “it’s ridiculous to print rumors without any foundation” regarding Alexander. As far as I know, he is [running in 2020]. That’s the message I got. And we’re preparing full speed ahead.”

…Manning was invited this week to speak to congressional Republican leaders during the annual GOP retreat….Both Alexander and Corker had welcomed Manning, a well-known contributor to Republicans, to the political gathering. Fox News speculated Manning’s Thursday “pep talk is likely to fuel speculation about whether Manning, who retired from the gridiron last year, will run for elected office.”

 

 

Negotiations fail to resolve lawsuit over Fred Thompson’s estate

Recently-filed court documents indicate settlement talks failed to resolve a dispute among members of the late Fred Thompson’s family over distribution of the former actor and U.S. senator’s estate, reports The Tennessean. The battle will apparently continue in court.

Thompson’s wife, Jeri Thompson, and his two adult sons from another marriage are sparring in court filings over what information Jeri Thompson must turn over as the case moves forward.

“(Thompson’s sons) should face the facts,” William Ramsey, a lawyer for Jeri Thompson, argued in the new court documents.

“Perhaps (the sons) are disappointed in their inheritance, but their disappointment does not entitle them to review irrelevant and confidential documents that have absolutely nothing to do with what is alleged in their complaint.”

Thompson’s sons, Tony and Dan Thompson, filed suit in August, accusing Jeri Thompson of having undue influence over their father at the end of his life and forcing him to make changes to his estate plan. Copies of the will in the court file say each son received $50,000 and list Jeri Thompson as the primary beneficiary.

Fred Thompson served Tennessee as a Republican in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2003 and he had a prominent role in the television drama “Law and Order.” He married Jeri Thompson in 2002. He died in November 2015 at the age of 73.

His adult sons now want to view documents related to the senator’s assets and his estate planning, court documents say. They say they have evidence — including a $40,000 bill from Nashville law firm Waller, which handled the senator’s will — that suspicious changes were made when their father “lacked the requisite mental capacity.”

Note: Previous post HERE.

AG says no constitutional problem with prosecuting Justin Timberlake (well, not explicitly)

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has formally opined that the 2015 Tennessee law prohibiting the taking of pictures inside a voting booth does not violate the state for federal constitutions.

The opinion came in response to a request from state Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, who has announced he will push for repeal of the law in the 2017 legislative session. Hardaway’s announcement came after entertainer Justin Timberlake made a “selfie” while casting an early vote in Germantown that was posted on social media to be seen by millions nationwide.

Timberlake, of course, was not prosecuted for his violation of the misdemeanor offense, punishable typically by a $50 fine and (theoretically) up to 30 days in jail… and said he was unaware of the law. (Note: Previous posts HERE and, most recently, HERE.

Excerpt from the opinion:

The interior of a polling place is a nonpublic forum.  The government may, without violating either the U.S. or the Tennessee Constitution, regulate speech and expressive conduct in a nonpublic forum as long as the regulation is reasonable in light of that forum’s purpose.  The prohibitions in Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-142 are content-neutral regulations that are reasonable in light of the purposes of a polling place, which include (1) ensuring privacy of the ballot, speed and efficiency of the voting process, and integrity of the election, and (2) preventing disruption and distraction for voters, voter intimidation, and interference and fraud in the balloting process.

The full opinion is HERE.

Columnist’s fantasy: Dolly Parton for governor

In a bit of confessed daydreaming, News Sentinel columnist Frank Cagle is pitching Dolly Parton for governor. He doesn’t propose which party banner she should run under — and the singer, most recently famous within the state for helping victims of the wildfires in her native Sevier County — has never stated a political preference and generally avoided politics. Excerpt:

Tennessee has been blessed in recent years with smart, capable women and some of them would appear to be in contention to be the next governor. But there isn’t anyone smarter than Dolly, anyone who has given back more to her state and who is more loved and cherished.

I hesitate to suggest that this paragon lower herself to get into politics, but I have long thought that she would be a great governor, perhaps one of our best. We know that her heart is in the right place and that she has been successful at anything she has ever tried. Her compassion for the people of Tennessee and her good works demonstrate that she would be all about helping people.

…Dolly could likely convince legislators to do what she wished. Could you say no to Dolly? For instance, legislators are talking about using a budget surplus to cut business taxes. Given the way she grew up, I suspect she would suggest that they cut the sales tax on food instead.

If she ran, she would win. I know that she has a lot of business interests and a thriving career even at this stage in her life. But she has often demonstrated her willingness to help others. She could do no greater service to her state and her community than to make the sacrifice to step up and serve.

…Chalk this one up to a nice daydream from someone who has been bedridden with the crud for two weeks and who is bone tired of having to vote for the lesser of two evils. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone you could joyfully support and someone of whom you could be proud?

After meeting with Trump, FedEx chief backs trade deals

FedEx Corp. founder and CEO Fred Smith of Memphis, who met with President-elect Donald Trump on Nov. 17, made a speech Friday praising the benefits of free trade and denouncing government intervention, reports the Memphis Business Journal. Trump and Smith didn’t made public the nature of their conversation, but Trump has called for more tariffs and voiced opposition to trade deals, including the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Trade has made America great, and expanding trade has been a bipartisan pursuit for over 80 years. The failure to continue to do so would be a severe mistake with enormous consequences for America and the world,” said Smith. “We urge the Trump Administration to put its stamp on a revised TPP by addressing any concerns it sees, and making any additional improvements to promote trade, rather than restrict it.”

The comments by FedEx’s chairman, president and CEO came Friday, Dec. 9, at the U.S. Council on Competitiveness’ National Council on Competitiveness Forum, in Washington, D.C., an annual C-suite invitation-only event covering issues related to maintaining America’s competitiveness globally.

Though Smith conceded that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be updated, he said a withdrawal “would have massive economic repercussions.There are myriad reasons why that would be catastrophic for the U.S. economy.”

Americans should not expect that a withdrawal from NAFTA would mean a return of those jobs to the U.S., Smith said.

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An update on Tipper Gore: Advocating, drumming and taking pictures

Tipper Gore lives mostly in Virginia these days, spends time traveling to New York and California to visit four grandchildren, continues to take photographs, advocates for those less fortunate than she and still plays drums although it’s with family members now and not on stage.

So reports Georgiana Vines in an update on the former wife of former Vice President Al Gore Jr., who  granted an interview – on condition that politics not be discussed — after giving the keynote speech at a Nashville fundraiser for Tennessee Voices for Children, a statewide organization that she founded in 1990 when services for those with mental health issues were not as available as they are today.

“I’m enjoying where I am and particularly that I’m a grandmother,” Gore said in a rare interview.

…Rikki Harris, CEO of Tennessee Voices, said a goal of $100,000 was reached (at the fundraiser). She said Gore was excitedly responsive when asked to speak.

“She wouldn’t take a dime. She paid her own expenses and bought her own table,” Harris said.

The organization serves 50,000 children, youth, families and child-serving providers. While Gore said she’s “very touched and very proud” of what Voices for Children does, 49 percent of kids and families with needs still aren’t getting services.

… The (couple’s four) children bring Tipper and Al Gore together on family occasions, sometimes to Carthage. Each has been reported by the national media as dating others.

Tipper Gore has a second home in the Santa Barbara area, where she does volunteer work on behalf of the homeless and LGBT community. She said when she visits daughter Sarah Maiani, her husband, Patrick, a musician, and their two-year-old, that she practices the drums.

“She has a full drum set. I play when I’m visiting her and her husband,” Gore said, adding. “A couple of years back, I played with Mickey Hart in Washington.” That was during an appearance of The Grateful Dead in April 2009.

She is co-chair of the advisory board of the Diana Basehart Foundation in Santa Barbara, which assists homeless and low-income people with animal care. In 2014, she had a photography exhibit at the Wall Space Gallery to support the Pacific Pride Foundation that provides services to the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities of Santa Barbara.

With the only reference to politics in the interview, Gore said that she had been asked to do photography leading up to the last election.

“I turned down the offer. I won’t say for whom. I do (photographs) for causes,” she said.