More legislator campaign spending: 3 bought passports, 10 paid family

In separate articles – latest in a series on state legislator campaign expenditures – The Tennessean reports on lawmakers paying family members and buying passports with political donor money.

Three legislators — Sens. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin —  spent a combined total of $621 in campaign money for passports last year. That article is HERE.

Ten House lawmakers used campaign funds to pay family members a combined total of $8,600 in 2016, according to the second article, HERE. An excerpt:

State law prohibits payments to family members unless the money covers legitimate campaigning. Four lawmakers paid family members and did not explicitly say those relatives were paid for campaign work, according to the analysis, which reviewed 2016 campaign finance records for every current state lawmaker.

Rep. Jim Coley, R-Barlett, hired his wife for “accounting” and paid her $1,250. Since 2012, Coley has given his wife a total of $4,550 in campaign money. He has not faced an opponent in either a primary or general election since 2006. Coley said his wife is a certified public account who “performed an extremely extensive audit” of his campaign.

Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, gave her husband $4,119 in campaign funds for “advertising.” Lynn said her husband offered “an excellent price and quick service” through his campaign mail company. Although she says he closed the business two years ago and she uses a different vendor, the $4,199 charge is on her 2016 report.

Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, paid her son $180 for “furniture/labor” and paid her daughter $150 for “labor.” Jones, who also paid her daughter $250 for “labor” in 2015, ran unopposed in the primary and general elections.

Rep. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, paid her husband $300 for “volunteer service.” In 2015, Gilmore paid her daughter, Erica, who is a Metro council member, $1,600 for volunteer service. Gilmore said her family helped her run her campaign and felt “small payments were reasonable.”

… Six other lawmakers’ payments to family members explicitly state they are for campaign-related work. Those include:

Rep. Marc Gravitt, R-East Ridge, paid his wife and two children a total of $520 for serving as “campaign workers.” Gravitt said his family took time off of work to help with his campaign.

Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville, paid her son $726 for campaign worker services. Rogers said she paid her son and other students who knocked on doors for her campaign.

Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, gave $100 to his wife for preparing a statesmen breakfast. Lollar also paid his son $100 for “labor/fees” related to election preparation. Lollar did not respond.

Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, paid her daughter $111 for “campaign,” according to her report.

Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Memphis paid his daughter $300 for organizing a fundraiser, said Ken Jobe, a spokesman for House Democrats. Campaign finance records state Shaw paid his daughter for “campaign website work.” Shaw also paid his son $125 for providing musical entertainment at a fundraiser.

One Response to More legislator campaign spending: 3 bought passports, 10 paid family

  • cannoneer2 says:

    Discoveries like this are all fine, but it should be pointed out that all of these folks are in “The Club”. Therefore there will be absolutely no repercussions from Election Finance or anyone else.

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