celebrities

On songwriting Sen. Rusty Crowe, Glen Campbell and Tanya Tucker

State Sen. Rusty Crowe is co-author of a song paying tribute to the late Glen Campbell that has been recorded by Tanya Tucker and released for sale this week, reports the Johnson City Press. The song, “Forever Loving You,” ties into legislation Crowe, R-Johnson City, successfully sponsored last year that was promoted by two of Campbell’s children.

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Haslam found what he’s looking for at Bonnaroo?

Tweet from the governor of Tennessee while visiting the Bonnaroo music festival near Manchester on Saturday — pictured with Crissy and members of the band U2.

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Corker and Peyton Manning join Trump on Sunday golf outing

Former NFL star Peyton Manning and Republican Sen. Bob Corker were spotted at the White House on Sunday, joining President Donald Trump in his motorcade on a trip to Trump National Golf Club, according to multiple media reports. Excerpt from the CNN version:

The White House did not comment on what Trump was doing at his property, but reporters saw golf clubs being unloaded from the motorcade after the President’s arrival back to the White House.

This is the 16th weekend of Trump’s presidency in which he’s visited a property that bears his name, and the 26th day of his presidency he has spent at a Trump golf property.

According to the press pool reports, the trio spent about 4½ hours at the golf club.

Peyton Manning was set to receive the Lincoln medal at Ford’s Theatre in Washington on Sunday night, along with American businessman Ronald Perelman. The medal is given to a person who “exemplifies the lasting legacy and mettle of character embodied by the most beloved president in our nation’s history, President Abraham Lincoln,” according to pool reports.

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Senate votes to repeal voter ‘selfie’ ban violated by Justin Timberlake

State senators voted unanimously Thursday to repeal the law Justin Timberlake famously violated last year and allow “selfie” pictures to be taken at polling places.

Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey noted in brief remarks on the Senate floor that Timberlake made “national and international news” by taking a picture of himself while voting “in my hometown of Germantown” and posting it on the Internet.

The celebrity entertainer said later he did not realize he was violating a state law, which was passed in 2015 with Kelsey as Senate sponsor. He was not prosecuted.

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Peyton Manning on seeking Lamar’s seat: ‘I have no interest in the political world’

Back in January, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander dismissed as “unfounded rumor” speculation that the veteran Tennessee lawmaker would not seek re-election when his current term ends and Peyton Manning would run for his seat. Now the retired NFL quarterback, once the star quarterback at the University of Tennessee, says pretty much the same thing, reports the Denver Post.

Since retiring from the NFL in March 2016, Manning has been the subject of much speculation about his next career, which has ranged from potentially joining the Colts’ front office (he didn’t) to running for the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is reported to be weighing retirement instead of running for a fourth term in 2020, and Manning’s name has been floated as a potential candidate. (Previous post HERE.)

“I don’t know where that came from. Last week I was going to run a team, this week I going to apparently run for Senate, and next week I’ll be an astronaut,” Manning said. “I have no interest in the political world, but would like to continue serving communities.”

Manning said he’s “excited about the next chapter of my career” and that he has “a bucket list” of things he wants to do before finding something new.

Anti-tax leader: Revised Haslam transportation bill is not a tax increase

The latest version of Gov. Bill Haslam’s transportation legislation has received a blessing from Grover Norquist, a national anti-tax activist, who says the package overall reduces more taxes than it increases. Haslam, who sought Norquist’s opinion, says that is “a really big deal,” reports the Times-Free Press.

Under the version of Haslam’s plan advancing in the Senate, the state would increase its tax on gas by 6 cents per gallon and diesel by 10 cents per gallon, but also cut other areas including the sales tax on groceries, the tax on earnings from stocks and bonds and corporate taxes owed by large manufacturers.

Norquist, founder of the group Americans for Tax Reform, said in a letter to state House and Senate members that the most recent version of the governor’s bill advancing in Senate represents a “net tax cut,” and does not violate lawmakers’ pledges to not raise taxes.

He also noted that the Senate had removed a proposal to link fuel taxes to inflation, “which means gas tax hikes will not be put on autopilot.”

The Haslam administration sought Norquist’s input on the Tennessee plan after seeing that Americans for Tax Reform supported gas tax increases in New Jersey and South Carolina when they were coupled with tax relief.

Norquist’s position on the Tennessee gas tax proposal contrasts with the strong opposition voiced by the state chapter of Americans For Prosperity, founded by billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch.

…Haslam told reporters he considers the announcement from Norquist to be “a really big deal.”

“This is somebody who’s kind of staked his whole thing on we should never have tax increases,” Haslam said. “Whether you agree or not, the fact that the founder of that movement — who had people sign no-new-tax pledges — says this is not a tax increase.”

Note: The Nashville Post has full text of the letter HERE. Meanwhile, Tennessee Star reports Norquist’s support has caused a backlash.

(T)he fierce backlash from conservative opponents of the gas tax increase in Tennessee to the last minute attempt by supporters of the governor’s plan to bolster its chances by calling in a “celebrity ” who has never lived in the state and knows little of the intricacies of the bill or the state’s budget, spells more, rather than less, political trouble ahead for the governor and his allies.

TN Student Freedom of Expression Act is no longer ‘informally, the Milo bill’

State Rep. Martin Daniel has dropped use of Milo Yiannopoulos’ name in promoting passage of a college campus “free speech” bill since the Breitbart News columnist  condoned sex between grown men and underage boys, according to The Nashville Scene and The Tennessean.

After a video of Yiannopoulos’ remarks became public, the Conservative Political Action Conference canceled his scheduled speech before the group and his publisher canceled plans to print a book he has written.

When contacted initially on Monday about the controversy Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin says Daniel, R-Knoxville, told her had “seen some headlines” but hadn’t “really read anything” about the controversy and generally downplayed the past prominent references to Yiannopoulos.

During a press conference (Feb. 9) that featured a number of random speakers, including Fox talking head Scottie Nell Hughes, Daniel proclaimed his legislation is needed in Tennessee after protests over a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California in Berkeley turned partially violent.

“This bill, entitled the ‘Tennessee Student Freedom of Expression Act,’ or, informally, the Milo Bill, will, one, create an official university policy that strongly affirms the importance of free expression as a fundamental right,” Daniel said at the press conference, shortly before a statement from Yiannopoulos himself was read by another woman in attendance.

From The Tennessean:

On Monday, the East Tennessee lawmaker backtracked on his endorsement of Milo, sending out a series of tweets saying his bill would be known as “the Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, & the MLK JR. bill.”

In an interview, he said he was not familiar with the full extent of the video controversy.

“It seemed appropriate at that time to name it after someone who has been persecuted for freedom of speech,” Daniel said.

As for the apparent name change, Daniel said the bill is bigger than just one person or incident.

“What we want to do is make it clear that this bill is about freedom of speech, not just one person,” he said. “We are going to reference people who have been free speech advocates in the past.”

The bill (HB739) is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald.”

Note: Gervin’s report includes a partial transcript of Yiannopoulos’ comments, commentary and a recounting of abusive and obscene tweets sent to her after an earlier posting on the Feb. 9 news conference. A previous post is HERE and a copy of the news release announcing the press conference is below.

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‘Unfounded rumor:’ Peyton Manning eyes run for Lamar’s Senate seat

A recent bit of political gossip suggests that Sen. Lamar Alexander won’t run for reelection in 2020 and that Peyton Manning might run to succeed him. An Alexander spokesman calls the report, which appeared this week in a Politico notebook, an “unfounded rumor,” reports the Times-Free Press.

Here’s the brief note:  “BUZZ: Several Republicans are wondering whether Peyton Manning will run for Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) seat when he retires. GOP insiders say Alexander won’t run for another term in 2020.”

“Like everybody else in Tennessee, Senator Alexander is a big fan of Peyton Manning,” said Alexander Chief of Staff David Cleary in a statement. “The senator has made no formal decision about 2020 but he’s fundraising and taking the steps one would take to prepare for re-election.”

Cleary noted Alexander had a 60 percent job approval rating in a December poll conducted by Vanderbilt University poll “and is busy as chairman of the Senate Health and Education Committee repairing the damage caused by Obamacare and implementing the law fixing No Child Left Behind.”

Cleary said Alexander, 76, also remains “focused on maintaining a Republican majority in 2018 and helping Senator Corker with his campaign in Tennessee.”

…Tom Ingram, Alexander’s long-time political adviser, said “it’s ridiculous to print rumors without any foundation” regarding Alexander. As far as I know, he is [running in 2020]. That’s the message I got. And we’re preparing full speed ahead.”

…Manning was invited this week to speak to congressional Republican leaders during the annual GOP retreat….Both Alexander and Corker had welcomed Manning, a well-known contributor to Republicans, to the political gathering. Fox News speculated Manning’s Thursday “pep talk is likely to fuel speculation about whether Manning, who retired from the gridiron last year, will run for elected office.”

 

 

Negotiations fail to resolve lawsuit over Fred Thompson’s estate

Recently-filed court documents indicate settlement talks failed to resolve a dispute among members of the late Fred Thompson’s family over distribution of the former actor and U.S. senator’s estate, reports The Tennessean. The battle will apparently continue in court.

Thompson’s wife, Jeri Thompson, and his two adult sons from another marriage are sparring in court filings over what information Jeri Thompson must turn over as the case moves forward.

“(Thompson’s sons) should face the facts,” William Ramsey, a lawyer for Jeri Thompson, argued in the new court documents.

“Perhaps (the sons) are disappointed in their inheritance, but their disappointment does not entitle them to review irrelevant and confidential documents that have absolutely nothing to do with what is alleged in their complaint.”

Thompson’s sons, Tony and Dan Thompson, filed suit in August, accusing Jeri Thompson of having undue influence over their father at the end of his life and forcing him to make changes to his estate plan. Copies of the will in the court file say each son received $50,000 and list Jeri Thompson as the primary beneficiary.

Fred Thompson served Tennessee as a Republican in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2003 and he had a prominent role in the television drama “Law and Order.” He married Jeri Thompson in 2002. He died in November 2015 at the age of 73.

His adult sons now want to view documents related to the senator’s assets and his estate planning, court documents say. They say they have evidence — including a $40,000 bill from Nashville law firm Waller, which handled the senator’s will — that suspicious changes were made when their father “lacked the requisite mental capacity.”

Note: Previous post HERE.

AG says no constitutional problem with prosecuting Justin Timberlake (well, not explicitly)

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has formally opined that the 2015 Tennessee law prohibiting the taking of pictures inside a voting booth does not violate the state for federal constitutions.

The opinion came in response to a request from state Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, who has announced he will push for repeal of the law in the 2017 legislative session. Hardaway’s announcement came after entertainer Justin Timberlake made a “selfie” while casting an early vote in Germantown that was posted on social media to be seen by millions nationwide.

Timberlake, of course, was not prosecuted for his violation of the misdemeanor offense, punishable typically by a $50 fine and (theoretically) up to 30 days in jail… and said he was unaware of the law. (Note: Previous posts HERE and, most recently, HERE.

Excerpt from the opinion:

The interior of a polling place is a nonpublic forum.  The government may, without violating either the U.S. or the Tennessee Constitution, regulate speech and expressive conduct in a nonpublic forum as long as the regulation is reasonable in light of that forum’s purpose.  The prohibitions in Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-142 are content-neutral regulations that are reasonable in light of the purposes of a polling place, which include (1) ensuring privacy of the ballot, speed and efficiency of the voting process, and integrity of the election, and (2) preventing disruption and distraction for voters, voter intimidation, and interference and fraud in the balloting process.

The full opinion is HERE.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

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

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