business

Warren Buffett’s company buying Pilot Flying J

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., better known as billionaire businessman Warren Buffett’s company, has struck a deal to buy a 38.6 percent equity stake in Pilot Flying J, the truck stop/gas station company owned by Tennessee’s Haslam family.

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Memphis businessman Webb joins GOP crowd eyeing Senate run

Jeff Webb, the founder and chairman of Memphis-based Varsity Brands is run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Bob Corker, reports the Memphis Business Journal. He says the CEOs of several companies have contacted him urging that he enter the race for the GOP nomination.

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Breitbart bashes ‘Strange’s swamp pal’ (Corker) for Alabama ‘sweetheart deal’

Breitbart News — headed by President Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon – is tying Sen. Bob Corker’s business dealings into its reporting on this week’s Republican U.S. Senate runoff primary in Alabama.

Breitbart is promoting Roy Moore over Sen. Luther Strange in the race. Corker is backing Strange and reportedly urged President Trump to personally campaign for Strange, as he did on Friday.

Referring to Corker as “Strange’s swamp pal” in its second report on the subject, the arch-conservative news service says the Tennessee senator “is set to receive more money each year from Alabama taxpayers from the sweetheart deal in an Alabama retail development arranged by a law firm that is a big donor to Strange’s Senate campaign than he receives from his salary as a United States senator.”

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AG: 3 million Tennesseans in Equifax data theft

News release from attorney general’s office

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today expressed in a letter to credit reporting firm Equifax his deep concern that the personal information of over 3 million Tennessee residents has been stolen by unauthorized individuals, leaving consumers vulnerable to identity theft and financial loss. In doing so, he added his voice to those of several other attorneys general who recently wrote to Equifax with similar concerns.

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$2.5B in annual TN business subsidies, outcomes often unknown

Tennessee state and local governments provide more than $2.5 billion in subsidies such as grants, tax breaks and tax credits to businesses each year, but there’s often little public information provided on whether the taxpayer money is working to produce promised jobs.

That’s the bottom line of reporting by the state’s four largest newspapers  — The Tennessean, The Commercial Appeal, Knoxville News Sentinel and (Chattanooga) Times Free Press — published this weekend.

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TN workers’ comp insurance rates continue decline

Workers’ compensation insurance rates will drop again next year for most Tennessee businesses as safer work sites and non-judicial settlements of workers’ comp claims continue to cut the costs of insurance industry, reports the Times Free Press.

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Four enter guilty pleas in Pilot Flying J scam

The man dubbed by the FBI as the architect of the diesel fuel rebate scam by executives of the nation’s largest truck stop chain has struck a deal to confess, reports the News Sentinel.

The former Pilot Flying J vice president of sales, John “Stick” Freeman, and three other Pilot Flying J ex-employees have agreed to plead guilty in the multi-million-dollar fraud and, according to language in the documents filed Monday, cooperate with federal authorities in the ongoing probe.

Freeman has been repeatedly described in an FBI affidavit and an indictment filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Lewen and Trey Hamilton as the architect of the scam in which less sophisticated trucking companies across the country were promised certain rebates but paid much less.

Freeman is providing information to the FBI about Pilot Flying J and the diesel fuel rebate scam the corporation’s own board of directors has conceded ripped trucking firms off to the tune of millions in five years, pleadings filed Monday in U.S. District Court show.

Also striking deals to confess are: John Spiewak, a regional sales manager for Pilot Flying J; Vicki Borden, director of direct sales; and Katy Bibee, an account representative who worked directly with Freeman.

… Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lewen and Hamilton make clear in the plea agreements Freeman is a key player in their effort to show the rebate scam was pervasive as was the culture of greed that spurred it – and that former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood was looking to expand it.

…Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam has not been charged, though the FBI, indicated in testimony and court records he was a suspect. Haslam denies any knowledge of the scheme.

TN ranked 35th in well-being of children, overall state economy

Tennessee ranks 35th among states both in caring for children and in its overall state economy, according to separate studies making the media reporting circuit today. The timing of the releases of the reports is surely coincidental; but just maybe there’s some linkage between the state economy and child well-being?

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Giannini part of new TN government/political consulting firm with Memphis as first client

Bill Giannini, a former deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance who unsuccessfully sought election as Tennessee Republican chairman in December, has launched a new consulting firm that, the Nashville Post reports, will “focus on efficient government and performance management” — not lobbying.

Called Resolve Consulting, the firm of the former Haslam appointee and his team will have a mix of public and private clients, with some political consulting on the side… Rachel Selbe is also a principal and the firm’s vice president. Selbe is a former program and policy development director for the state, and she served as an assistant general counsel for the state’s Regulatory Boards Division. Other employees include Emily Janney and Greer Kelly as strategic consultants and Kellee Mannix as a consultant and coach.

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Nashville-only ‘Airbnb bill’ passes House; then dies in Senate committee

The House on Monday evening approved a controversial, much-lobbied and much-revised bill imposing state regulations on short-term house rentals – the final House version targeting only Nashville for key restrictions. But the companion Senate bill died today in the Senate Finance Committee, postponed until next year.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

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

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