Press Release from Tennessee Democratic Party; July 7, 2010:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Republicans in the state Legislature admit they “have no problem” playing golf at taxpayer expense instead of balancing the state’s budget and working to solve problems for their communities.
State Rep. Pat Marsh of Shelbyville and three other Republican members of the state House of Representatives each collected $185 in per diem recently while spending the afternoon at Two Rivers Golf Course, according to a WSMV TV Channel 4 investigative report that aired on Tuesday.
“I have no problem with that at all,” Marsh replied when asked if he should be paid per diem while playing golf. State lawmakers are paid $185 each day the Legislature is in session to cover daily expenses.
Republican state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas received much criticism last year after collecting more than $18,000 in taxpayer-funded expense reimbursements despite being a first-term legislator with no leadership responsibilities. He had collected more per diem than any other Republican lawmaker in the state House at that point last year.
“This is one more example of the kind of hypocrisy that is rampant with state Republicans,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said. “They rant about too much government and too many taxes while back home, but they all run to the taxpayer trough when they are here in Nashville supposedly doing state business.
“It takes a lot of gall to ask Tennessee taxpayers to pay for golf excursions while trying to cut funding for unemployment benefits, programs to reduce infant mortality and projects to create jobs. While most of us have to sacrifice in lean times like these, you have some who are totally oblivious to the struggles of ordinary Tennesseans.”
State Reps. Dale Ford of Jonesborough, Steve McManus of Cordova and Mike Harrison of Rogersville were also playing golf at Two Rivers Golf Course on May 18 while the Legislature was in session, according to the Nashville television station’s report.
“Public servants should be focused on public service, not how they can spend time improving their golf game,” Forrester added.