Diane Black

TN Tech research used in lobbying ‘eviscerated’ by some professors

“Growing faculty outrage” prompted a Tennessee Technological University internal investigation into the validity of the school research that was financed by a Tennessee company, then used by U.S. Rep. Diane Black in supporting the company’s viewpoint on federal air pollution regulations, reports The Tennessean. Tech’s president suggests the internal review may “exonerate the innocent.”

Professors have eviscerated the results of a $39,000 study commissioned by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, a Byrdstown-based trucking company that makes rebuilt diesel engines. The findings suggested those engines do not emit more harmful emissions than new engines.

The study, summarized in a June 2017 letter to U.S. Rep. Diane Black that was signed by university President Phil Oldham, was used to lobby to keep a measure that allows rebuilt diesel engines used in glider kits to be exempt from modern federal emissions rules.

The problem, as reported Thursday in The New York Times, is that the Tennessee Tech research is contradicted by an Environmental Protection Agency analysis that found emissions from glider kits are much more dangerous than emissions from new engines. (Note: The Times report also says Black got $225,000 in gubernatorial campaign contributions from donor tied to Fitzgerald. Previous post HERE.)

“This one has been called into some question, and so we’re following university policy to look into it based on concerns that have been expressed,” he said during a Thursday interview at the Cookeville campus. “Nothing has come to my attention at this point that concerns me but the fact that other people have raised concerns warrants us to take a look at it.”

But many professors, including members of the faculty senate, have demanded a more aggressive effort to distance the university from what they say is embarrassing research.

…In a letter to the head of the faculty senate, (interim College of Engineering Dean Darrell) Hoy recalled “urging (almost begging) that the Administration immediately suspend support for the project” during a Jan. 23 meeting.

“I realize this memo and the facts that I have brought to light may be a ‘professional suicide’ with regard to my position as Interim Dean,” Hoy wrote. “However, if that is what it takes to help force a more active response from the University and stop the damage to the College, I do it willingly and without hesitation.”

…Questions about conflicts of interest are compounded by the fact that Tennessee Tech and Fitzgerald announced a partnership in August that would allow the university to house a program in a company building on Fitzgerald’s property.

Fitzgerald did not respond to messages seeking a comment on the Tennessee Tech research or partnership.

Oldham said the partnership was not connected with the research project. He repeatedly defended the study and the protocol it followed during the Thursday interview.

He said the internal investigation could be an opportunity to “exonerate the innocent,” but he left open the possibility it might lead to changes.

Black, campaigning on day of skipped House budget vote: ‘God is God, life is life and truth is truth’

U.S. Rep. Diane Black was campaigning for governor in Dyer County on Friday morning, according to the Dyersburg State Gazette. Earlier that morning, Black had otherwise gained some media attention by skipping the House floor vote on a $400 billion budget deal.

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Black skipped gubernatorial forum to attend fundraiser

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who cited a scheduling conflict in declining an invitation to join other gubernatorial candidates at a Tuesday evening forum on education issues, attended a fundraiser instead, reports The Tennessean.

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont Univeristy)

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

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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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Trump traveling to TN with Corker, Black, Blackburn and Roe

U.S. Reps. Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn, both campaigning for statewide office, and retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker will join President Trump in flying to Nashville for a Monday afternoon speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention, reports The Tennessean. So will U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, who hasn’t officially said whether he’ll run for another term.

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Diane Black resigns as House Budget Chairman

Press release from Diane Black campaign

This morning, Diane Black announced in a Fox News Op-ed that she will officially step down as Chairman of the House Budget Committee to focus on her campaign for governor.  Continue reading

Black names former Florida/Louisiana operative as campaign manager

U.S. Rep. Diane Black has assembled a group of “top Republican political operatives” to run her campaign for governor, according to a Politico ‘Morning Score’ notebook item:

Matt Parker is the campaign manager. In 2016 he ran President Donald Trump’s effort in Florida. He previously worked with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Republican Party.

 Lance Frizell is serving as senior adviser. He has worked for the Tennessee Republican Party, the Tennessee House Caucus, and served as chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. 

 Jordan Young is also a senior adviser for the campaign. Young served as deputy chief of staff to Ramsey and executive director of the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus.

Chris Hartline is the campaign’s communications director. Prior to that he was press secretary and communications director for the House Budget Committee under Chairman Black and has also served as war room director for Scott’s reelection campaign.

Note: An  astute reader observes, via email, that Politico misspelled Frizzell’s name — leaving off one ‘z’ of the two in Frizzell.

Black says she was sexually harassed as a state legislator

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, now a candidate for governor, says in a column written for Townhall that she suffered episodes of sexual harassment from “the good ol’ boy culture” while a state legislator years ago.

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Black, Harwell and Fitzhugh release income tax info; other gubernatorial candidates refuse

Four of the seven major candidates for Tennessee governor have turned down a Tennessean request to make public details of their federal income tax returns.

U.S. Rep. Diane Black and fellow Republican state House Speaker Beth Harwell provided financial summaries. Of the other Republican candidates Mae Beavers, Randy Boyd and Bill Lee declined – though Boyd indicated he may reconsider in the future.

On the Democrat side, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh released a copy of his 2016 return and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean declined the request, though indicating he may reconsider later.

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West TN Megasite spurned by Toyota Mazda; Black campaign sees ‘inexcusable loss for our state’

State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe has confirmed that the Memphis Regional Megasite as been eliminated from consideration for a new Toyota-Mazda manufacturing plant, reports the Jackson Sun. A second, undisclosed company has also rejected the site.

Diane Black’s gubernatorial campaign promptly issued a statement to media declaring the decision indicates a failure to make Tennessee a business-friendly state – an apparent reference to former ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, one of Black’s opponents in the GOP gubernatorial campaign, and perhaps to Gov. Bill Haslam. Neither are mentioned by name in the statement.

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