State Rep. Harry Brooks won’t seek reelection; will donate leftover campaign funds to schools

Republican Rep. Harry Brooks, who has not faced an opponent since winning the House District 19 seat in 2002, announced Wednesday he will not seek another term next year and will donate about $66,000 in leftover campaign funds to four Knox County schools.

Brooks, 70, chairman of the House Education Administration and Planning Committee, made the formal announcement at a news conference where local officials – including Knox County Schools Board of Education Chair Patti Bounds, Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett – were on hand to thank Brooks for the money, reports the News Sentinel.

The total $66,493 will be divided among the four high schools in Brooks’ district and awarded based on the number of registered voters zoned for each school. The amount donated to each school will be:

Halls High School: $10,639;

South-Doyle High School: $10,639;

Carter High School: $19,283;

Gibbs High School: $25,932

…During his time in office, Brooks said he helped amend legislation that allows politicians or candidates to donate campaign funds to allow those funds to go to schools.

“Prior to that amendment, it was not allowed,” Brooks said. “The caveat is, I don’t control the money. It’s their decision on how to use it.”

…Brooks said education is a key reason why he got involved in politics in the first place, so it only made sense to make a donation to Knox County Schools.

“I’ve had hundreds of contributors over the years and I wanted to put it back into where they live,” he said. “It’s the district’s money, that’s how I look at it.”

Note: Brooks’ campaign finance disclosure filed in January showed a balance of $79,472 with $6,695 still owed from loans Brooks made to his campaign back in 2002, when the veteran employee of the Knox County sheriff’s office defeated three candidates in the GOP primary and a Democrat in November after veteran state Rep. Jim Boyer, then the House Republican Caucus chairman, decided not to seek reelection. He has not had a Republican or Democratic opponent since.

Last year, Brooks disclosures show limited activity. Biggest donation received was $2,000 from Gov. Bill Haslam’s PAC. The biggest expenditures reported were $1,000 each to Republican Reps. Jay Reedy of Erin and Eddie Smith of Knoxville, both facing seriously-contested election opponent.

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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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