Nashville ‘sanctuary city’ ordinance shelved amid new legal opinion, Republican howls of protest

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry urged city council members Tuesday to reconsider their support for an ordinance that critics – including most of the state’s Republican politicians, it seems – contend would make the state’s capitol a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants.

The council members sponsoring the ordinance, meanwhile, announced they are scrapping plans for a final vote on the proposal July 6. They didn’t say when, or if, it will be rescheduled.

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Theft charge dismissed against former state Rep. Curry Todd in campaign sign theft

A theft charge against former state Rep. Curry Todd, who last year allegedly stole former state Rep. Mark Lovell’s campaign signs, was dismissed in Shelby County General Sessions Court on Friday, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Lovell’s failure to attend the hearing was cited as a reason for the dismissal. Todd was on hand, but declined comment.

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Republicans bash Nashville immigration ordinance (including pledge to invalidate it, if passed)

Nashville’s Democrat-dominated Metro Council approved Tuesday on second reading – with a third approval required next month – a “Nashville together” ordinance that would prohibit using any city funds, resources or facilities to assist enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The state’s Republican officeholders have been bashing the move since then. Here’s a sampler with one pro-ordinance press release thrown in.

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Complaint filed with FEC contends campaign finance law violated by Kelsey congressional campaign

News release from Campaign Legal Center

WASHINGTON –  Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Democracy 21 (D21) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and will file with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against former Congressional candidate Brian Kelsey and others, including the American Conservative Union (ACU), for their part in a scheme to circumvent contribution limits and disclosure laws by illegally funneling funds from Kelsey’s state account through intermediaries to secretly support Kelsey’s run for U.S. Congress in 2016.

“In order to disguise the illegal transfer of prohibited state money into his federal race, it appears that Kelsey concocted a scheme to pass the money through a dark money daisy chain and straw donor reimbursement plot,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. “Kelsey appears to have stacked legal violation on top of legal violation, and we anticipate that the FEC and DOJ will take this very seriously.”

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Assault charge against Rep. Daniel to be dismissed under deal with prosecutor

An assault charge filed against state Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, after he shoved an opponent during a broadcast forum last summer will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble for six months, reports the News Sentinel.

In an agreement with special prosecutor Jason Lawson of Wilson County brokered by defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs, Daniel will not admit guilt and the assault charge against him will be dismissed after six months of good behavior.

The agreement was announced in a brief hearing Friday before Union County General Sessions Judge Darryl Edmondson, who was tapped to hear the case after Knox County’s judges recused themselves.

“The assault that never was will be dismissed,” Isaacs said after the hearing. “There was no entry of a plea by Rep. Daniel. Rep. Daniel is glad the taxpayers will not be spending any additional money on this unfortunate situation.”

Daniel was slapped with an assault charge after he and then-challenger Steve Hall, a former Knoxville city councilman (and former state representative), got into a shoving match in July 2016 during a live radio forum. Hall pressed the charge, not the Knoxville Police Department.

Note: A post at the time: HERE.

Rep. Judd Matheny: I’ll run for Diane Black’s congressional seat if she runs for governor

State Rep. Judd Matheny tells Tennessee Star that he’s “100 percent in the race for Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District” – if incumbent Republican Diane Black runs for governor instead of seeking reelection.

Black (R-TN), who currently represents the 6th Congressional District, is considered likely to enter the race for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. Rumors abound as to when that might happen, but the consensus is that if she decides to run, she will need to make the announcement some time between July and September.

… “If Diane Black does not run for governor, I will not run for the 6th Congressional district seat, and will instead for re-election to the Tennessee House of Representatives,” Matheny said.

First elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2002, Matheny has long been a champion of conservative causes in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Matheny was one of 35 Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted against Governor’ Haslam’s gas tax increase in the critical House vote in April where the bill passed by a 60 to 37 margin.

Note: State Sen. Mark Green, who has bowed out of the governor’s race saying he’s inclined toward seeking a position in Washington, is another potential candidate for the 6th District seat (Previous post HERE). As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Black is currently trying to come up with a federal budget plan — and having lots of problems because of Republican infighting, according to a review of the situation today in Politico.  As previously noted, she apparently will have to resign as a committee chairman once she announces as a candidate for governor.

Yager withdraws as candidate for nomination to TVA board

In a letter to U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, state Sen. Ken Yager has withdrawn from consideration for nomination to the TVA Board of Directors by President Trump.

There had been some question raised as to whether a state senator could legally sit on the TVA board without resigning as a legislator. Yager doesn’t address that specifically in his letter, but says he has decided that “priority attention” should go to his legislative duties, which include chairing both the Senate State and Local Government Committee and the joint House-Senate Fiscal Review Committee.

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Andy Holt eyes challenge to Corker

State Rep. Andy Holt tells The Tennessean he’s considering a 2018 run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by fellow Republican Bob Corker.

The legislator from Dresden cited a poll commissioned by Tennessee Star as indicating Corker has waning support from Republican primary voters. (Note: It found 41 percent support for Corker and about the same percentage favoring “someone else.” See previous post HERE.)

“I’ve had countless people contact me. People I respect. People with resources,” Holt said.

…”I owe it to the people who have given me support over the years to consider it, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Holt said.

Holt said he has not set a timeline for his decision, saying it is “too early in the process for that.”

Rep. Jimmy Eldridge eyes run for Jackson mayor

Republican state Rep. Jimmy Eldridge says he is “leaning toward” running to become mayor of Jackson in 2019, according to the Jackson Sun.

“I have the experience, I have the energy, I have the health,” Eldridge said in a phone interview. “I have desire to want to continue to serve. It’s not even in my thinking process to ever retire from political life as long as my health is good and my friends, family and community are encouraging me.”

Current Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist’s term runs through 2019 and he has not announced his future plans. Gist has served as mayor since 2007.  (Note: Gist defeated former state Sen. Lowe Finney in 2015, winning with just over 51 percent of the vote.)

Before being elected state representative in 2003, Eldridge, a Jackson native, served on the Madison County Court and Madison County Commission. In addition to his duties as state representative, Eldridge is the chairman of the House Consumer and Human Resources committee.

“I worked through the ranks,” he said. “I didn’t stop and wake up one day, serve on the county commission, and said, ‘Hey, I want to run for mayor.’ I’ve worked through the channels and I think that’s the proper way to do it.”

Eldridge has one more year in his term before his reelection campaign in 2018, one year before a potential mayoral run.  Eldridge said locally it is important the next mayor has a “strong” relationship with the General Assembly.

Possible ‘straw donor scheme’ seen in Kelsey campaign money transactions with other legislators

When state Sen. Brian Kelsey ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year, he was giving political money to state legislators who also gave money to him, reports The Tennessean, and a Washington attorney who specializes in campaign finance law says the transactions could be a “straw donor scheme” that warrants a federal investigation.

The story – declared part of “an ongoing USA Today Network-Tennessee investigation” – lists seven Republican state legislators and one unsuccessful GOP candidate for a state House seat who gave to Kelsey and received funds from his state Senate campaign account or a PAC he operates. It also says Kelsey also donated from his Senate account to eight legislators who did not give to his congressional campaign and sent money through his Red State PAC to 10 legislators who did not donate to his campaign.

The legislators with back-and-forth donations: Sens. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga, Steve Dickerson of Nashville, Delores Gresham of Somerville and Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro; Reps. Glen Casada of Franklin, Ron Gant of Rossville and Martin Daniel of Knoxville. Steve Glover, who lost a race against Democratic Rep. Darren Jernigan of Nashville, is also listed. An excerpt:

A political consultant with knowledge of the Tennessee lawmaker’s transactions said Kelsey asked multiple state legislators to make a federal contribution in exchange for a donation to their own state campaigns.

While Kelsey and his donors denied coordination, the dates and amounts of the transactions and previous evidence involving campaign contributions are enough to warrant a Federal Election Commission investigation, (Brendan) Fischer said.

“It’s even further evidence that there was some sleazy business happening in Tennessee with these transfers of funds,” Fischer said.

Fischer is “an attorney and Federal Election Commission reform program director with Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center.”

Note: The newspaper had a report last week questioning the legality of money shifting between Kelsey’s campaign, two PACS and a major GOP donor. There’s a post on that article HERE.