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TN GOP: Democrats Hit ‘New Low’ With Recent Losses

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; April 1, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For 150 years, the Tennessee Democratic Party controlled every level of political office in Tennessee. Over the last few years, though, Tennesseans have continually rejected their liberal views driving the Democrats into superminority status across the state.

Last week, a new low was hit by the Democrats as the Party suffered setbacks on key policy and political fronts.

  • Representative Gloria Johnson’s (D—Knoxville) personal privilege bill, House Bill 1301, failed for lack of a second. Johnson, an educator by trade, had been pushing a mandate on local governments to grant leaves of absence—a change to the law that she would personally benefit from.
  • House Bill 898, once amended, would remake the Democratic Party and remove accountability from voters. It was forced to be taken off notice by Republicans who would have no part in such a move.
  • Perhaps most galling to the Democrats’ big government agenda, Governor Bill Haslam said “no to Tennessee Medicaid Expansion”. The move spurned the wishes of Tennessee Democrats who were hoping to see the Governor take part in a broken system.

Democrats were particularly pointed in their comments following the Governor’s announcement. For example:

  • “This is a time when the people of Tennessee need clear, precise and bold leadership, and Governor Haslam offered none of that today.”—Rep. Mike Turner (D—Old Hickory)
  • “Instead we’ve seen more of the hand-wringing and delayed action that we’ve become accustomed to. Lives will be lost while we wait for a real decision.”—House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D—Ripley)
  • “Tennessee should choose science instead of selfishness, people instead of politics, life instead of death.”—TNDP Chairman, Roy Herron

Democratic carping surprised many observers, particularly from the three individuals above, who all played important roles in the 2005 TennCare cuts that booted 170,000 Tennesseans from the health care rolls. Apparently, the arguments used now for political purposes to slam the Governor did not carry much weight then.

Fitzhugh championed the cuts in the Legislature: He was the first cosponsor of the 2005 appropriations bill that removed the funding for TennCare and provided an important vote as a top-ranking Democrat. Herron followed suit in the Senate, unmoved by his own “pro-life” beliefs. Turner was so moved by his belief in leadership, in 2005, he voted present.

Presented with all this information, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party Chris Devaney, stated, “Democrats have sunk to new lows in their attempts to maintain some form of relevancy. Just when you think they’ve hit rock bottom, a new depth of despair is achieved.”

Senate GOP, Lt. Gov. Approve of Haslam Medicaid Decision

Statement from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; March 27, 2013:

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) said the following upon the conclusion of Governor Haslam’s address to a joint session of the 108th General Assembly:

“I applaud Governor Haslam’s decision to reject Obama’s medicaid expansion. Without bold reform of the Medicaid program tailored to Tennessee’s unique situation, there can be no compromise on this issue.”

“Four out of every ten dollars the federal government spends comes out of the back pockets of future generations. Tennessee must receive assurances that have not been forthcoming. Governor Haslam has laid out a plan for what true health care reform looks like. I commend him for his continued thoughtful and measured approach to this complex issue.”

Statement from State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Governor Haslam offered a good solution, rather than expanding an unsustainable and broken program. Unlike Washington, Tennessee has been working hard to control health care costs. Hopefully, Washington will see our 20-year record of working through the problems we face with our healthcare system and agree to work with us on a plan that will truly be both beneficial to improving healthcare outcomes in our state and sustainable over the long run.”

Statement from State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – “I applaud Governor Haslam’s decision today to reject Medicaid expansion as envisioned by ObamaCare in this year’s budget,” stated Senator Brian Kelsey (R – Germantown) following the governor’s announcement
this morning. “I am happy to receive the governor’s commitment not to expand Medicaid in future years without legislative approval.”

Sen. Kelsey is the sponsor of Senate Bill 804, filed to block Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. Sen. Kelsey originally filed Senate Bill 1 on Nov. 7, 2012 to block expansion. He redrafted the bill and filed SB 804 on January 31, 2013 with 15 of the 33 state Senators as co-sponsors. The bill is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday afternoon, March 27. Sen. Kelsey serves as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman.

TNGOP: Turner ‘No Friend to Our Children or Minorities’

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; February 14, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Never one to be bound by logic or facts, State Representative Mike Turner (D—Old Hickory) found yet another way to lodge his foot squarely in his mouth.

Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R—Nashville) and many lawmakers are pushing for statewide charter school authorization. The bill removes government hurdles and allows for Tennessee to attract high-performing charter schools all across the state.

Turner, at a media availability, accused Speaker Harwell of supporting policies that will “lead to resegregation.”

Unfortunately all students are suffering. According to 2011 NAEP data, Tennessee’s public education system:

  • 49th in 4th Grade Math -Scale score 233 (7 points below National Average)
  • 41st in 4th Grade Reading -Scale score 215 (5 points below National Average)
  •  45th in 8th Grade Math -Scale score 274 (9 points below National Average)
  • 41st in 8th Grade Reading -Scale score 259 (5 points below National Average

The proficiency levels in the state are low. In 2011:

  • In 4th Grade Math – 71% of students are below proficient (30% proficient or advance)
  • In 4th Grade Reading – 75% of students are below proficient (26% proficient or advance)
  • In 8th Grade Math – 76% of students are below proficient (24% proficient or advance)
  • In 8th Grade Reading – 73% of students are below proficient (27% proficient or advance)

Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, stated, “Most legislators believe every child in Tennessee deserves the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. Apparently, Mike Turner disagrees with that principle.”

He continued, “While Mike Turner spends time labeling Tennesseans ‘racist,’ he’s continually supporting policies that prop up the status quo and, more alarmingly, weigh down minorities and underprivileged children. Tennesseans want to know why he would continue to defend the current system which study after study shows is failing our students and robbing generation after generation of opportunity.”

According to Tennessee campaign finance data, Turner received:

  • $1,200 in the 2012 campaign cycle from the teacher’s union;
  • $2,500 in the 2010 campaign cycle from the teacher’s union.

“The facts prove Mike Turner is no friend to our children or minorities. Instead of standing with lawmakers who want to reform our poor education system by injecting opportunity and achievement into the equation, he’d rather pocket money from unions who put their own interests ahead of our children. It’s time to undo the mess in education that has been created after 150 years of bad policy, and that’s what our reform-minded legislators are doing now—raising standards and giving parents choices, and students the opportunity, for a better education,” concluded Devaney.

Summerville Pushes Initiative to End ‘Preferential Treatment Based on Race, Gender’

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; January 10, 2013:

(NASHVILLE), January 10, 2013 – State Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) said today he plans to move forward with legislation filed in the State Senate to ban preferential treatment based on race, gender or ethnicity. Summerville has filed several bills which he said makes up the “Civil Rights Initiative of 2013” for consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly.

“Certainly we all need to strive towards the goal of protecting citizens from discrimination,” said Senator Summerville. “But, at the same time that goal is hard to achieve if preferential treatment is part of our state’s public policy. If we hire, promote or give preferential treatment by race, gender or ethnicity, we will continue to divide by race, gender or ethnicity. In the coming months, I will ask my good colleagues of both houses and both parties to fight and win the last battle of the civil rights movement.”

The bills filed would:

  • provide that state government will not give preferential treatment based on gender, race, or ethnicity, except where required by federal law;
  • abolish such group preferences from Tennessee’s public colleges and universities; abolish the job categories of “diversity officers;”
  • eliminate race, gender, or ethnicity as considerations for hiring K-12 teachers;
  • prohibit any and all entities of State government from compiling and keeping statistics, or other data by race, gender, and ethnicity.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hoped to live to see an America where his children would be judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Summerville added. “I think he’d be sad if he were among us today to see that this generation has failed in that hope. We can honor his memory by taking steps like California and Michigan have done. Tennessee, where Dr. King died, can become the first state in the South to realize his vision into law.”

“Although it took longer than it should have, our nation has opened the door of opportunity for all. Only character, intelligence, and hard work matter now,” he concluded.

Tea Party Marshaling Anti-Obamacare Muster

Members of the Nashville Tea Party are planning a rally outside the state Capitol at noon Wednesday. Their hope is to put GOP lawmakers and Gov. Bill Haslam on clear notice that grassroots conservatives want Tennessee to disavow state-level cooperation and support for the federal health insurance exchanges outlined in President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

“We’re calling it the ‘Just Say No’ rally, and we’re trying to send a message to the governor,” said Ben Cunningham, leader of the Nashville Tea Party. “We’re encouraging him to just say no to a state-run exchange and let the federal government own this disaster.”

Cunningham said he expects people from all three of Tennessee’s Grand Divisions to attend.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates that states choose between creating a state-run exchange where individuals may purchase health insurance eligible for federal subsidies or allowing the government to create a federally run insurance exchange.

Either way, those exchanges are supposed to be up and running by Jan. 1, 2014.

Haslam continues to say he has not made a decision on what course his administration will formally set — even after the federal government extended the deadline to make a decision to Dec. 14. Haslam and other state officials have complained that the federal government has failed to answer key questions as to how state-run exchanges would work.

Many governors, such as Rick Perry in Texas and Jan Brewer in Arizona, have said they will not set up a state-run exchange.

Tennessee tea partiers “would like Gov. Haslam to join with those governors and say, ‘No, we’re not going to be a branch office of the federal government,’” said Cunningham. He said a petition to that effect is circulating and “is getting a very good response.”

“If they (the federal government) want to implement this program, have at it, but our experience in the past with Medicaid, with education funding, is always a bait-and-switch situation where they fund much of the expenditures on the front end, and then the states are left with huge expenses on the back end,” Cunningham said. “There is some indication now that the phone calls and the emails that the governor is getting are overwhelmingly against a state exchange.”

The governor has indicated that while he opposes Obamacare in general, and he thinks the health exchanges are a bad idea overall, he’d prefer it if the state run them rather than the feds. However, high-ranking Republicans in both houses of the state’s General Assembly have indicated that support is lacking among the majority party for the state taking on that responsibility.

Trent Seibert can be reached at trent@tnreport.com, on Twitter at@trentseibert or at 615-669-9501.

House Republican Caucus Members on Twitter Fall 2012

Press release from the Tennessee House Republican Caucus; November 9, 2012: 

Active Members

Harwell — @SpeakerHarwell
McCormick — @GeraldMcCormick
Rich — @RepBarrettRich
Powers — @DennisHPowers
Butt – @RepSheilaButt
Evans — @RepEvans
Marsh — @Marsh4TN
Brooks — @RepKBrooks
Weaver — @TerriLynnWeaver
Holt — @andyholtTN
Marsh — @RepPatMarsh
Sexton — @CSexton25
Pody — @MarkPody
Hall — @VoteSteveHall
Sargent — @CSargentTN
McManus — @VoteMcManus
Dean — @VoteVinceDean
Faison — @JerFaison
Womick — @RickWomick
H. Brooks — @RepHarryBrooks
Carr — @JoeCarr48
Swann — @RepArtSwann
M. White — @RepMarkWhite
M. Hill — @HillRep

 

New Members of the 108th General Assembly 

Lamberth — @WilliamLamberth
T. Hill — @TimothyHill_TN
Goins — @TilmanGoins
Lynn — @SusanMLynn
Calfee — @KentCalfee
D. White — @VoteDawn
Rogers — @LtColRogers
Farmer — @RepAndrewFarmer
Carr — @VoteDaleCarr
Durham — @JeremyRDurham

State to Spend $850K on Replacement Pumping Station to Maintain Habitat for Duck Hunting

Press release from the Tennessee Republican House Caucus; October 26, 2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Representative Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan) today announced that the state will be undertaking an $850,000 project at Barkley Wildlife Management Area in Stewart County. The funding will pay to completely replace a pumping station that is relied upon to maintain the habitat for duck hunting and other water fowl.

“I am pleased the State Building Commission understands the importance of this project and committed funding to it,” said Representative Wirgau. “Stewart County treasures its hunting and wildlife areas, and we appreciate the willingness of the state to help maintain the Barkley Wildlife Management Area.”

The final approval was given by the Executive Subcommittee of the State Building Commission.

Governor Bill Haslam, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, and House Speaker Beth Harwell all serve as members of the full State Building Commission with the Commissioner of Finance and Administration Mark Emkes, Comptroller Justin Wilson, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and Treasurer David Lillard.

“Protecting our natural resources and ensuring we are properly safeguarding natural habitats is an important part of maintaining Tennessee’s heritage,” said House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville). “I know that with these improvements, the people of Stewart County will be enjoying the Barkley Wildlife Management Area for years to come.”

TNDP: Questionable if TN GOP will Protect Senior Citizen Health Care Benefits

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 30, 2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan aren’t the only Republican politicians with a plan to end Medicare as we know it.

Earlier this year, Tennessee Republicans, including state Rep. Jim Gotto, co-sponsored the Health Care Compact bill (HB0369/SB0326), an extreme measure that endangers the health benefits of 800,000 Tennessee seniors enrolled in Medicare and shifts management of their health care plans to TennCare.

Tennessee seniors now want to know if Republican Senate candidate Steve Dickerson and House candidates Charles Williamson, Ben Claybaker and Robert Duvall will support controversial entitlement reforms such as turning Medicare into a privatized voucher program or the state Republican plan to have TennCare take over Medicare.

“Voters assume Dickerson, Williamson, Claybaker and Duvall will fall in line with party bosses, like Rep. Gotto, who want to end Medicare as we know it and hand the management of their health care plan over to TennCare,” said Brandon Puttbrese of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “If these candidates are supporting the Romney-Ryan ticket, which is pushing for vouchers and empty promises that will swamp Tennessee seniors with increased health care costs, voters have to expect that they won’t stray far from their party’s anti-senior policies.”

Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, has endorsed his running mate’s plan to privatize Medicare through vouchers. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found the Ryan plan would cut benefits and raise health care costs for seniors by $6,400 each year.

“Tennessee seniors won’t support an extreme plan that puts their current health care coverage at risk — whether it’s Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan or Republicans in Tennessee, there are consequences for endorsing plans that endangers Medicare’s guaranteed benefit or turns the program into a privatized voucher scheme,” said Puttbrese. “It’s time for Davidson County’s G.O.P. candidates — Steve Dickerson, Charles Williamson, Ben Claybaker and Robert Duvall — to be clear with voters and explain whether they support these extreme entitlement reforms that pose a threat to seniors by putting their guaranteed coverage at risk.

 

TENNESSEE REPUBLICAN COMPACT BILL COULD END MEDICARE’S GUARANTEED BENEFIT & FORCE MEDICARE RECIPIENTS INTO TENNCARE

Republican Health Care Compact Bill Would Force 800,000 Tennessee Seniors and 200,000 Disabled Tennesseans into TennCare or a Similar State Program. Under the Republican Health Care Compact Bill (HB0369/SB0326), beginning in FY13-14, the State of Tennessee would take over the federal Medicare program and force enrollees into TennCare or a similar state program. Not only would this be an unprecedented expansion of state government, this bill would increase the state budget by $11,505,596,700.[Capitol.TN.gov, accessed 8/15/12]

Compact’s Block Grant Funding Gap Endangers Medicare’s Guaranteed Benefit at Current Levels and Would Pass Costs onto Seniors. In a release, AARP Utah — another state that has enacted the Health Care Compact law — summarized two of the major problems of the compact, problems that Tennessee would surely face. The AARP stated, “First, the block grant would not keep pace with medical inflation, meaning a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to the state, as medical inflation is much higher than ‘cost-of-living’ inflation… Third, the gap between the block grant funds and the actual cost of medical care for the hundreds of thousands of people who are served by Medicaid and Medicare would be shouldered by the low-income, disabled, and senior populations who are beneficiaries.” [AARP.org, 5/2012]

Indiana Republicans Excluded Medicare From Their Health Care Compact Law to Avoid Cuts to Seniors’ Benefits. Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican, has a very complex position on Indiana’s “Health Care Compact.” Recognizing the that funding for the Health Care Compact is not designed to keep pace with medical inflation, as pointed out by AARP Utah, Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature amended their “Health Care Compact” bill to exclude Medicare from their compact. [NWI Politics, 2/23/12]

PAUL RYAN’S BUDGET ENDS MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT AND SHIFTS COSTS ON TO SENIORS

The Ryan Plan Would End Medicare As We Know It And Raise Seniors Health Costs By Thousands Of Dollars Per Year. “The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the ‘doughnut hole’ in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all.” [Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “Medicare in the Ryan Budget,” 3/28/12]

The Ryan Plan Raises The Eligibility Age For Medicare From 65 To 67, And Puts In Place Caps On Spending That Could Shift Costs To Seniors As Health Care Costs Rise. “Under Ryan’s blueprint, the Medicare eligibility age would rise over time beginning in 2023 from 65 to 67. In the future, seniors would be given government assistance to purchase private health-insurance plans or could continue to take part in the current fee-for-service model. Spending would be capped, meaning risks and costs could shift to seniors as health-care costs rise.” [Washington Post, 3/29/12]

The Affordable Care Act Preserves Medicare for the Future. Health reform found $716 billion in savings that didn’t cut Medicare benefits by a dime. These savings are extending the life of Medicare through 2024 by cutting unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies and rooting out waste, fraud and abuse. [FactCheck.org, 8/24/12]

Ramsey: GOP ‘United’ Behind Romney

Statement from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; August 31, 2012: 

The fall election season has begun. The Republican National Convention has concluded and the party has nominated two excellent men to lead it through November and beyond: Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan.

I was proud to represent both my party and my state as a Tennessee delegation co-chair in Tampa and witness the introduction of this great ticket to the American people. Our Tennessee delegation had a great time sharing stories and ideas with Republicans from across the country.

And then there were the speeches. So many different voices all coming together for one common purpose. Whether it was the foreign policy genius of Condoleezza Rice, the inspiring social conservatism of Governor Mike Huckabee or messages from the tea party delivered by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, all the speakers were united in reaching one goal: electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and ending America’s Obama ordeal.

As many of you may know I supported a different candidate in the primary. But after this past week and after studying the record of Mitt Romney, I truly believe we are united behind the best candidate to defeat Barack Obama.

The Obama campaign will try and paint Mitt Romney’s experience in business as a negative but I believe the American people will see through these transparent attacks. Mitt Romney has a story to tell and it is one of economic recovery.

For 15 years, Mitt Romney worked at a company that took failing businesses and turned them around. He described his experience in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

“I know what it takes to turn around difficult situations. And I will put that experience to work, to get our economy back on track, create jobs, strengthen the middle class and lay the groundwork for America’s increased competitiveness in the world,” Romney explained.

Mitt Romney, for lack of a better term, is a turnaround artist. That skill is the number one requirement to lead America out of the Obama recession.

I’m excited at the prospect of a president who has worked in the private sector identifying new ways to maximize resources and solve problems. I’m energized to support a presidential candidate who speaks from experience and with optimism about the possibilities of our free enterprise system in contrast to a President who belittles the efforts of small businessmen.

Mitt Romney’s competency as an executive leader was proven once again in his choice of a runningmate. Many urged Governor Romney to make a safe choice and choose a bland figure who would make no waves. He instead made a bold choice.

Paul Ryan is young, visionary leader of the intellectual Right and one who has been unafraid to stake out clear and definable positions.

The choice of an advanced thinker such as Ryan shows that Romney is concerned not just with the politics of getting elected but with the policy expertise needed to govern. In his speech in Tampa, Rep. Ryan revealed himself as the perfect compliment to Mitt Romney and showed that he is ready to serve on day one.

The choice the American people have been given is a stark one — and that is just how I like it.

On one side, we have a man who spent a career building success out of failure, a man who has turned around companies and saved jobs. On the other side, we have a man who has taken a recession and turned it into a near depression all the while telling individuals who have managed success in tough times that “they didn’t build that.”

These two visions of America could not be more diametrically opposed.

In Tennessee, Republicans have proven that conservative governance works. We have proven that you can shrink a budget’s bottom line, cut taxes and still provide high quality services. We have shown that a state that pays its bills on time can thrive — even in the Obama recession.

I see the same principles of conservative governance in the Romney/Ryan ticket. I look forward to seeing a change in the White House and cannot wait to see Mitt Romney make America’s economic comeback his turnaround masterpiece.

TFA Concerned TN is ‘For Sale’ by GOP Leadership, Elites

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; August 29, 2012: 

TFA has had an increasing concern over the last four years that the state of Tennessee is “for sale” by Republican party leadership and elite.

Perhaps the concern started with Bill Haslam’s essential purchase of the office of governor by self-investing over $3.5 million in his race for governor in 2010. Haslam “self-investment” of $3.5 million was more than the totals reportedly spent by either the McWherter or Ramsey campaigns in total on those races. In total, Haslam spent just under $18 million to purchase the Tennessee’s governor’s office.

But it may well be that the Haslam “bid” for the auction of the governor’s office was not the start but just a high water mark on the sale of state government power and influence to the marionettes of Big Business interests. We increasingly see evidence that Republican incumbents, elites and party leaders rely primarily on Big Business to promote and sustain their addiction to power. They appear to rely on “grassroots” and the voters as mere serfs to carry the water and knock on the doors.

One example was the Debra Maggart primary. As TFA reported previously, Debra Maggart was proudly advertising a campaign fund raiser that involved $2500 per entity “hosts” and her proudly published host list was truly a Who is Who of those interests which seek to purchase power and legislation through incumbent legislators. (Interestingly, we anticipate some of those same Maggart supporters, many of who previously supported Democrats when they were the majority, will now be running in the next 2 years to Courtney Rogers with checks assuming she is elected in November – let’s hope she says politely “no” to their figurative bribes and attempts to purchase friendship and influence).

This week we see more evidence of the pandering of incumbents to Big Business rather than the interests and needs of the citizens. Take for example, the fact that defeated incumbent Debra Maggart is making friends and probably looking for a job at the RNC convention in Tampa this week. Indeed, Maggart tells her followers on Twitter that she is

Waiting by the pool in Tampa for all my
Republican friends to show up to nominate
the next President of the USA
@MittRomney #RNC2012

Makes you wonder who is paying for that trip perhaps.

But Debra Maggart is now just an example of how money and arrogance corrupt and what it costs to remove such blights from government.

What we have on the horizon is more evidence that the Republican elites and leadership are still busy at work peddling temporary positional power and influence. This week TFA received a copy of an invitation to an event called “The Taste of Tennessee”. It is a fundraiser for the Republican caucus (read that the Republican incumbent caucus). The invitation is made by the current “leadership” of the Senate and House:

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey
Speaker of the House Beth Harwell
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick
Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron
House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart

This event is to “honor” unnamed “Tennessee Republican Legislators” although we are told some incumbents did not get “free” passes and others who are candidates but not yet legislators did.

The event is being held by these leadership Republicans at a very large venue – the War Memorial Building – a state owned structure. A later dinner is being held by these leadership Republicans at a somewhat smaller location – the Hermitage Hotel – a facility well known for its use by legislators for a wide variety of events and activities.

The intent and motive of this event is most clearly defined by the amount of “tribute” that these Republican leaders are requesting. One might want to know whether this event was set up to promote the relationship and access of the citizens, voters and grassroots organizations. The answer is easily no.

What this event seems to indicate more clearly is that these leaders are interested primarily in selling the access and “friendship” of their positions of perceived power to those who have the largest checkbooks – not those who voted them into office. For example, these leaders have required that an “event sponsor” spend a minimum of $25,000 for which the sponsor gets 2 dinner tickets and a few more passes for a pre-dinner reception. An “event host” is required to spend $10,000 and for that they do not get to eat dinner at all. It sounds more of “let them eat cake” than stewardship and public service.

Another quite notable aspect of this event invitation is the reminder on the second page that businesses are now eligible to “invest” their corporate funds to pad the pockets of the caucus bank account(s) that these leaders control. It would be interesting to know how many business do so and perhaps classify these “investments” as part of their advertising or promotional budgets so that they can expense off these payoffs.

TFA will not be padding the bank accounts of these leadership self-classified power-brokers by wasting $25,000 of membership dues on a handshake. It is doubtful that any other truly grassroots or constitutionally conservative organizations will. No, this is a time for the proverbial “fat-cats” and elitist to gather together to divide the spoils of the government that was created by “the people” for the service and protection of “the people”. As noted in Article 1, Section 1, of the Tennessee Constitution, “… all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; ….”

Notice that no where in any constitution of any state is it said that government was created by businesses (or for that matter unions) to promote the interests of businesses, unions, corporations, or any entity of any nature. The secular creator of government was in all instances “the people” and the duty of official stewardship runs solely to “the people.” Promoting an environment that is “business friendly” is subordinate to the mandate that the government act foremost to create a state, tax burden and government structure that primarily promotes the people’s “peace, safety and happiness.” That, unfortunately, seems to be a premise of government that is too inconvenient for those who see of their immediate objective as amassing vast funds for personal positions and power.