campaign finance

Legislator uses campaign money for machine gun ammo

State Rep. Judd Matheny, currently running for the Republican nomination to the 6th Congressional District seat, used $1,600 from his legislative campaign funds to pay for ammunition fired during target shooting for lawmakers with machine guns in April, reports The Tennessean.

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Registry memo: Legislators should not double dip on expense payments

Back in June, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally asked the Registry of Election Finance to produce a memo on the legality of legislators using campaign money to pay for meals and motels on days when they’re also getting “per diem” expense money from the state — $220 per day for those living more than 50 miles from Nashville.

After discussion of the matter at a Registry board meeting earlier this month, the Registry staff has produced the requested a short memo this week and sent it to the speakers. Not surprisingly, the brief memo says legislators shouldn’t be reimbursed twice for the same expenses.

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Joe Carr launches federal PAC

Former state Rep. Joe Carr, who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in 2014 and against U.S. Rep. Diane Black in 2016, has launched a political action committee for 2018, reports Nashville Post Politics.

Carr is the designated agent of Stand Firm America, the paperwork for which was filed with the Federal Election Commission late Thursday. Carr’s daughter, Maddie, is the PAC’s treasurer. The PAC’s website was registered Thursday through a proxy.

“We’re in the formative stages of this whole thing. We’re putting this together, and once everything is put together — what we’re trying to do, what the mission statement is, what the purpose is and what it’s directly going to address — we’ll have a press release on that,” Joe Carr said Friday. “We’re not ready to make any announcements on the purposes of the PAC just yet.”

…The former state representative’s annual conservative gathering and fundraiser, T-Bones and Politics, will be held Sept. 14 in Lascassas, featuring Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. Carr said he won’t announce his own plans for a possible 2018 campaign until after the event.

On setting a state record for campaign spending and candidate self-financing

Nine months before the April qualifying deadline for gubernatorial candidates, those officially seeking the office have already collected $8.4 for their campaigns — $3.4 million through self-funding.

“If we have tight primary races and a tight competitive general election this one could hit $35 or $40 million,” said Kent Syler, a political science professor at Middle Tennessee State University, tells The Tennessean in a report noting the 2018 gubernatorial campaign is shaping up to set a state spending record.

A new state campaign spending record is possible, even probable. But the current state spending records are arguably somewhat higher than the figures cited elsewhere that include only spending by general election candidates, not losers in the primary. It’s a virtual certainty, on the other hand, that the developing gubernatorial races will set a record for self-financing.

 

The most expensive Tennessee political campaign so far was the U.S. Senate race in 2006, won by Republican Bob Corker over Democrat Harold Ford Jr. in the November general election. Corker and Ford combined spent about $34 million with Corker using $4.1 million of personal funds.  Corker’s two primary opponents, Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary, spent about $2.2 million each, so the campaign total was more than $38 million. (Corker’s total was $18.6M; Ford $15.3M.)

The most expensive Tennessee gubernatorial campaign was in 2010, when Bill Haslam defeated two serious Republican primary opponents, followed by a much easier win over Democrat Mike McWherter in November. Haslam spent $16.7 million with $3.5 million in self-financing and McWherter $3.4 million and the overall campaign cost is often pegged at $20 million. But if you add the two GOP primary candidates Haslam defeated, the total was about $27 million. Ron Ramsey spent $3.1 million and Zach Wamp $4 million.

As for the Tennessee record of self-spending by one individual, it’s Corker’s $4.1 million. That’s roughly the same amount of self-spending for all candidates combined in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign — Haslam’s $3.5 million combined with Ramsey’s $200,000 loan to his campaign and Wamp’s $400,000 loan. (Ramsey and Wamp were able to repay their loans; Haslam’s loan has not been repaid.)

Ergo, Boyd is halfway to a record for self-financing with the filing of his first disclosure and Lee is not far behind. Corker and Haslam both waited until much later in their campaigns to put in significant personal money. And if multimillionaire U.S. Rep. Diane Black gets into the gubernatorial campaign race, she can be expected to quickly put in a substantial amount of personal funding in playing catchup against primary opponents who are already traversing the state and planning big advertising efforts.

Note: The Memphis Flyer today has some further musing from an old guy on the gubernatorial campaign HERE, including the suggestion that Boyd is the frontrunner at this embryonic stage of the proceedings. See also previous post listing basic figures from initial filings of candidate campaign finance reports HERE.

Figures from first gubernatorial campaign disclosures: Boyd, Lee and Dean tops in fundraising

Snapshot of gubernatorial candidate campaign finance disclosures filed Monday with the Registry of Election Finance, starting with Republicans in alphabetical order:

Sen. Mae Beavers – collected $56,721, spent $1,377; balance $55,343. (collection total includes $20,000 transfer from her state Senate campaign fund; does not include $4,760 in-kind contribution.)

Randy Boyd – collected $4,328,468, spent $819,236; balance $3,509,228 (collection total includes direct donations of $2,034,468 by Boyd himself, including in-kind contribution).

Bill Lee – collected $1,391,511, loaned his campaign $1,375,000 and made a $30,000 in-kind contribution to his campaign (renting a bus) for self-funded total of $1,405,000. Spent $223,187; balance $2,527,623.

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Bill Lee’s first campaign disclosure (PR version): $1.375M in donations matched with $1.375M self-financing

News release from the Bill Lee campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Republican gubernatorial candidate and conservative Williamson County businessman and cattle farmer Bill Lee announced that his campaign for governor has raised over $1.375 million in a little over two months of active campaigning, with over $2.5 million cash on hand to end the report period.  In addition to what was raised, Bill and his wife Maria committed to match in the amount of $1.375 million due to the overwhelming level of enthusiasm and support he has received across the state.

 “Maria and I are truly humbled and honored to see the outpouring of support from across Tennessee with folks wanting to help this campaign,” said Lee.

Lee continued, “Since we announced on April 24th, we have traveled the state meeting everyone we can and sharing my vision for Tennessee. The response has been so overwhelmingly positive, we felt compelled to match the donations in an effort to thank everyone for their support and show our continued commitment to them throughout this campaign.”  Continue reading

Boyd’s first campaign disclosure (PR version): $2M in self-financing, $2.3M in donations

News release from Randy Boyd campaign

 Nashville, Tenn. — Randy Boyd, Republican candidate for Governor, announced today that his first campaign finance report will show his campaign collected more than $4.3 million in total contributions from donors in all 95 Tennessee counties in just four short months of campaigning.

“I am deeply grateful for the early and generous support from so many Tennesseans,” Boyd said. “There are many ways to contribute and to help our campaign effort, but these early dollars from all 95 counties mean a lot and are a good indication of my commitment to campaign in and earn the support of every corner of our state.”

During the gubernatorial campaign’s first financial reporting period, Boyd’s report will show he raised more than $2.3 million from over 1,500 grassroots donations from March 1 to June 30 representing all 95 counties – and that he contributed another $2 million to demonstrate his own personal support for his growing statewide campaign.

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Durham showing ‘total disrespect’ for campaign finance laws with new filing?

Former Rep. Jeremy Durham, who reported to the Registry of Election Finance in January that he had a $109,147.39 remaining in his old campaign account, filed a report Thursday that left blank the space for filling in January amount and instead there’s a handwritten note that reads “Ask Moeck.” In the space for the amount in the campaign fund on June 30 there’s the figure $65,204.94. There are zeros in all the places to be filled in with receipts and expenditures.

The Tennessean got an explanation of sorts from Peter Strianse, an attorney defending the ousted-from-office Franklin  Republican against a Registry finding that he repeatedly violated state campaign finance laws. Excerpt from the newspaper’s report:

Jay Moeck is the registry’s investigator, whose probe into Durham’s campaign finances resulted in the recent record-setting $465,000 fine levied against Durham at a June registry meeting.

… Strianse said Thursday his client hasn’t spent any campaign money since January but wasn’t sure what balance to include on his latest report.

“As the campaign finance report clearly states, Mr. Durham’s campaign account has had no activity this year,” Strianse said in an email.

“Since we have yet to receive anything in writing from the registry regarding the results of the June 7 meeting, we are unable to divine what number the registry expects Mr. Durham to include in the previous balance section of the report pending appeal of their unsupported decision.”

…Registry member Tom Lawless saw Durham’s comment about Moeck as an affront to the state.

“That shows his mindset for an authority that oversees these matters and his total disregard for the law,” Lawless said Thursday.

…“He is either admitting that as a member of leadership he couldn’t file a report accurately or completely, which in and of itself is an indictment against him for just arrogance or disregard for a system he was a part of,” Lawless said.

“Or he has filed false reports, and that in and of itself is another issue that the registry may or may not have to address.”

Duncan: Payments of campaign funds to son ‘has been done according to law’

U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr. is defending payments from his campaign account to his son, John J. Duncan III, reports the News Sentinel. The newspaper’s report pegs the payments since the younger Duncan’s conviction of official misconduct as Knox County trustee at $293,250, a bit less than reported earlier by the Nashville Post.

“Every expenditure from my campaign has been done according to law and in compliance with all pertinent regulations of the Federal Election Commission,” (Congressman Duncan) said. “Many members of Congress, past and present, have paid family members for campaign work. The fact that family members have run, and worked in, my campaigns has been public for a long time.

“In the last four years, I have paid my son, John, who has been in charge of my entire political operation doing everything from putting up yard signs and answering campaign calls to conducting polls, giving speeches, and raising funds. He was paid far less than many campaign managers and consultants while doing many things that they would not do.”

“Every expenditure in relation to my family was done because I got family members to do things for much less than Washington campaign people. These are important positions of trust and I have the utmost trust in my family.”

Note: Previous post HERE.

Duncan paid $316K in campaign funds to son; other family members also on payroll

U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr.’s congressional campaign account has paid the Knoxville Republican’s son, John J. Duncan III, $316,500 in salary since July, 2013, when the younger Duncan pleaded guilty to misconduct charges and resigned as Knox County trustee, reports the Nashville Post.

The campaign also pays for his son’s cellphone and reimburses his mileage, many meals and multiple other expenses, according to reporter Cari Wade Gervin’s review of campaign disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The article says that the veteran officeholder has also made thousands of dollars in payments to other family members – another son, a niece, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and his sister – through his campaign fund and through his political action committee, Road to Victory PAC.

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