Nashville state Senate candidate sending campaign emails to school employees

Would-be state senator Howard Jones has been blasting mass emails asking for donations to his fellow Metro Nashville Public Schools employees in violation of school policy, reports the Nashville Scene.

Jones is running for the District 19 seat currently held by state Sen. Thelma Harper; state Rep. Brenda Gilmore is also running.

Jones, a Baptist minister and assistant principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School, has been sending emails from his campaign account to staff at many, if not all, schools in the district — although apparently none to anyone in the administration and central offices.

…The emails started in mid-June and have been coming about once a week, with messages like:

If there has every been a time for change in Nashville, Tennessee, it is now. We can have better Education, a Stronger Economy for all, and Efficient Housing with safe Communities. It’s going to take all of us Connecting in Unity to build better communities together.

I am asking you personally to join this movement by donating your time and at least a $10 recurring donation to WIN for families and our future.

We must all donate to this cause: become a $10 or more monthly donor to our campaign today. We can and We Will Win Together.

… (T)here are two big problems with this. First, MNPS sent out an email in March reminding employees that the district’s policies prohibit employees from “using the network for financial or commercial gain, advertising, or political lobbying.” A different policy prohibits distribution of campaign materials or messaging from candidates for office to students or staff.

Second, Jones has not registered his campaign — and thus his campaign treasurer — with the state, meaning he’s currently accepting donations in violation of the state’s campaign finance laws. Janet Williams with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance said someone would have to file a formal complaint against Jones before any possible fines or penalties could be assessed.

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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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