governor’s race

Black campaigns with Ramsey, talks drug addiction at ETSU

While campaigning for governor in the Tri-Cities area Monday, U.S. Rep. Diane Black stopped by East Tennessee State University’s Bill Gatton of College of Pharmacy to participate in a roundtable discussion on drug addiction treatment and prevention research, reports the Johnson City Press.

Accompanied by former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who now serves as her campaign co-chair, Black listened attentively and asked many questions, even interjecting at times to ask for clarification or provide her own feedback.

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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, husband criticized for lobbying against medical marijuana bill

Medical marijuana legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison is hitting a hurdle with gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Diane Black opposing it and her husband trying to kill the measure, according to the Tennessee Ledger. Her husband says his actions are in the public interest and not for any financial gain by his company.

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Black campaign collects $225K from donors linked to company benefiting from “pollution loophole” she promoted

Donors linked to a Crossville, Tenn., truck dealership known as Fitzgerald Glider provided 12 percent of contributions to the gubernatorial campaign of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, reports the New York Times under the headline, “How $225,000 Can Help Secure a Pollution Loophole at Trump’s E.P.A.” Black is reported to have played a pivotal role in promoting a “loophole” in federal law that helps the company.

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Lee reserves $2.2M worth of TV ad time for June through Aug. 2 GOP gubernatorial primary

Williamson County gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee has reserved $2.2 million worth of TV time to run campaign ads from June through the Aug. 2 Republican primary, reports Joel Ebert.

Although the spots are still months away from hitting the airwaves, Lee has reserved $1.1 million in ads to air on local broadcast stations in Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, the Tri-Cities area and throughout West Tennessee, including Memphis and Jackson, as well as Paducah, Kentucky.

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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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Boyd spends $500K on TV ad running during Olympics

Press release from Randy Boyd campaign

Nashville, Tenn. — Just in time for the Olympics, Randy Boyd, Republican candidate for Governor, released a new ad entitled “Grit” highlighting the American Dream and his rise from factory worker and first-generation college student to successful entrepreneur and founder of Radio Systems Corporation.

The $500,000 statewide broadcast and cable TV buy will air on Friday, Feb. 9 during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and will continue through the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday, Feb. 25….

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Of six gubernatorial candidates, only Harwell supports removing governor from UT board

House Speaker Beth Harwell supports Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to reduce the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees from 26 to 11 members – including elimination of the governor as a board member, according to a Victor Ashe column. But  five other major candidates for governor want to have a seat on the board if elected.

Randy Boyd, Craig Fitzhugh, Bill Lee and Diane Black all said they thought the governor should be a board member and they would actively attend meetings as governor. Karl Dean said he would actively attend meetings but did not respond to the question of whether the law should be amended to remove the governor.

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Gubernatorial candidates talk on local control versus legislature

Excerpt from the Times-Free Press report on a gubernatorial candidate forum Thursday:

In response to a question about cities’ and towns’ complaints about the General Assembly’s propensity to wade into their operations on issues like guns in public parks, removal of Confederate statues and education, (Democrat Craig) Fitzhugh said, “I believe in local control” and put the blame on the Republican-run Legislature.

“It seemed to me that for many years, the Republican view was the best government was at the local level, but here recently at the Legislature, the majority party has taken it upon themselves to sort of get into cities’ business and counties’ business on various things. I think they had it right the first time.”

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Lee, Boyd differ on megasite development at guber forum

Two leading Republican candidates for governor in Tennessee drew a contrast over an economic development “megasite” during a forum Thursday, reports the Associated Press.

At the Tennessee Press Association forum, former state economic development chief Randy Boyd said it’s worth the time and remaining investment of $70 million-plus to the Memphis Regional Megasite because it could help create more than 30,000 jobs.

But businessman Bill Lee said there isn’t currently a workforce prepared for the jobs that the megasite might attract.

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