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TFA: Maggart Motivated By Money, Power

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association; July 23, 2012: 

Maggart – does she have the capacity for truth?

Debra Maggart’s campaign is running an advertisement in which she questions the truthfulness and ethics of Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers.

Its a futile but intentional misrepresentation by Maggart. The facts are pretty simple. Candidates for office must fill out a disclosure form (the state SS-8004). One question on the form asks:

Bankruptcy – List any adjudication of bankruptcy or discharge received in any United States district court within five (5) years of the date of this report.

Lt. Col. Rogers answered none. That was truthful and accurate. Although she and her husband were discharged from a bankruptcy 6 years prior to the completion of that form, the state did not consider bankruptcies older than 5 years to be relevant. It is also true that once the Rogers were discharged, the bankruptcy trustee and creditors continued to collect their assets (the bankruptcy estate) and distribute it until 2008 when the bankruptcy was “closed” but that did not involve the Rogers and it is not part of the question. The question clearly requires the disclosure of any “discharge” which is a specific legal status under federal law.

Maggart has tried to make a big issue out of this. Perhaps that is because running on the truth of her record or the real sources of her financial support would spell certain defeat.

In response, the Rogers campaign has asked all elected members of the General Assembly to “sanction their own”. It is interesting that apparently they have refused to do so at this point. Consider the facts in the communication from Jeff Hartline, who works on her campaign and who has been friends with many of these Republican legislators, to the other legislators calling on them to step in and put a stop to the intentional misrepresentations of Maggart:

Members of the General Assembly:

Below is the text of a radio ad that has been aired in Nashville this week by the House Caucus Chairman, Debra Maggart against her opponent, Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers (Ret.), a Republican. It is important that you read this ad so that you can see for yourself the blatant misrepresentation of the truth that your Caucus Chair exhibits in this ad. Maggart’s challenger is a 28 year Air Force/Air National Guard veteran distinguished during the Cold War and in combat in multiple theatres of operation. Many of you heard Ms. Maggart during the last session brag that she would “destroy” Courtney Rogers with her bankruptcy. I know this because several of you have told me. When I heard this, I thought it was bluster. I was wrong.

Here is the ad:

“What kind of judgment? What kind of priorities? Serious questions Tennesseans are asking about Courtney Rogers. Courtney Rogers (1)failed to disclose that she filed for bankruptcy with the State Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, even though it was required by law. Worse, Rogers tried to use a (2)loophole in the Law in an effort to try and (3)hide her past. Explains why Courtney Rogers is running a false and negative campaign, (4)attacking the true conservative, Republican, Debra Maggart. Failing to disclose that she filed for bankruptcy in her ethics disclosure forms, Using a loophole in the law in an effort to try and hide her past. (5)Running a false and negative campaign to cover it up. If we can’t trust Rogers to tell the truth now, we definitely can’t trust Courtney Rogers in the Legislature. Courtney Rogers, (6)just another politician Tennessee families can’t trust.”

Here are the misrepresentations:

(1) Courtney Rogers did NOT fail to disclose a bankruptcy. She was not required to disclose that she had ever filed for bankruptcy. The ethics form asked whether she has been “discharged” from a bankruptcy within the past five years. Her husband’s business failed in the year after September 11, 2001. (He had purchased an oil distributorship). After sinking $55,000 of their savings into the business to save it, they filed for bankruptcy in March 2005 and the bankruptcy was “discharged” in June 2005. The Bankruptcy Trustee “terminated” the bankruptcy in 2008. The Rogers had no say-so in when the creditors were paid nor were they ever notified as to this “termination.” Prior to completing the ethics disclosure form, their attorney told them that the question on the form was specific to their part of the proceedings. Independent attorneys also verify that Courtney answered the question correctly. Maggart shopped this story to the Tennessean and the TV networks. They concluded there was no “there” there and dropped it. She was finally successful in getting TNReport to run the story. Even they concluded there was no violation. But Maggart achieved her objective, getting a “reputable” media outlet to disclose the information so she could then come in behind it and run her malicious, false ads. Maggart knows the truth but has decided to proceed with her lies.

(2) There is NO loophole in the law. The language of “Discharge” is very specific as has been verified by numerous bankruptcy attorneys. If Maggart thinks this is a loophole, then she should file an ethics complaint. Another untruth.

(3) Courtney has not tried to hide “her past”. Have any of you asked Maggart if she is trying to hide “her past” of being fined $5,000 by TREF in 2003 for elections “ethics” violations? Fortunately for Maggart, she was able to get Mr. Gregory to write the check to get her off the hook. Courtney has had numerous conversations with voters when her bankruptcy has been discussed.

(4) Courtney has not “attacked” Debra Maggart. Quite the contrary. Courtney has spent the entirety of her campaign talking about who she is, what she believes, and the things important to her. Maggart has so much here to “attack”, but Courtney has kept the discussion to Maggart’s record and lack of leadership. Both the NRA and TFA are conducting independent expenditure campaigns against Maggart because they feel she has abandoned the concerns of their four million plus members. This is no different from the $100,000+ Maggart has extracted from Big Business and Lobbyists, not to even mention many of the same entities giving her employer, COMPASS, tens of thousands of dollars, from which she benefits personally. Courtney has no say-so in any of these campaigns. Courtney got into this campaign well before the NRA or TFA got interested in it. She has called Maggart’s unethical acceptance of per diem money into question and will continue to do so. Perhaps Maggart should be asking why all candidates running in Sumner County have said they would not accept it? Another untruth.

(5) Courtney is not running a “false and negative” campaign. I call upon Maggart to point out what part of her campaign is false or negative.

(6) Courtney Rogers is not “another politician”. This is just laughable.

Decide for yourself, Is this what passes for leadership in Tennessee. Looks more like desperation to me and you should be disgusted by it. I am curious how many of you will go “on the record” asking Maggart to cease and desist from this malicious, false, libelous, slander campaign against Courtney Rogers. Our Lt. Gov. is right when he says “It matters who governs.” Who will speak out against this?

Sadly, we see no evidence that any Republican incumbent has spoken out on the intentional misconduct of Maggart making public misrepresentations of fact regarding these issues. One must start to question if other Republican incumbents are interested in preserving the truth and integrity of the General Assembly or are they simply covering for Maggart?

Furthermore, incumbent Maggart wants to make a big deal about ethics, the truth and accountability. Have any of you heard any ad or news report wherein she addresses the fact that the Conservative Forum of Tennessee, a PAC which Maggart ran, was fined $5000 in 2003 for reporting violations? Have you seen any stories on Maggart’s personal business, a carpet store, which she closed and left creditors who later took a judgment against the store?

It is time, past time, to make an example of Debra Maggart. She has lost her way. She has revealed her true convictions – money and power. She has proven she is unfit for public service. Let’s end her career in office, let’s end her tenure in power, and let us work together to send a steward to Nashville – Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers.

Categories
Business and Economy Featured News Transparency and Elections

Bankruptcy Filing Haunts Challenger to Maggart

In 2005, Courtney Rogers’ life savings were gone.

The oil distributorship business her husband bought with a friend months before the 9/11 attacks had failed. Business debts were piling up. And the couple was filing for bankruptcy.

And even though it stemmed from the failure of her husband’s company, Rogers is being sucked back into that difficult chapter in their lives now that she’s running for state political office. Rogers is waging a dark horse campaign to unseat one of the House’s leading Republicans, GOP Caucus Leader Debra Maggart, of Hendersonville.

Michael Rogers’ company — BSR Petroleum Distributors Inc. — consumed $55,000 of the Rogers family’s savings as profit margins shrunk following the terrorist attacks, forcing the pair to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Rogers and her campaign said.

“There was nothing we could do. We fought it off for a few years, we emptied our savings. But the margins never came back,” said Rogers.

Rogers and her husband filed for bankruptcy in March of 2005, according to court records. The couple listed liabilities of more than $930,000, with most of those debts, nearly $730,000, tied to his company. Their legal obligation to pay their debt was gone three months later, and their assets were liquidated.

“I don’t know that we’d do anything different because no one could foresee that,” she said of her husband buying Pulaski-based Chiles Oil Inc., and launching their business six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The revelation of Rogers’ bankruptcy is the newest twist in the Aug. 2 primary race for District 45 in Sumner County between the two conservative Republicans. A handful of interest groups are flooding Rogers with support in an effort to unseat the politically powerful Maggart as payback for leading the charge against issues they hold dear, including the National Rifle Association, which so far has plugged more than $75,000 into the race.

Rogers has not filed a disclosure of the bankruptcy with the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.

It’s unclear whether she is in violation of election law, which requires candidates running for election to fill out paperwork listing “any adjudication of bankruptcy or discharge received in any United States district court within five years of the date of this report.” Omitting information could result in a fine up to $10,000.

Although the court issued the Rogerses their bankruptcy in 2005, it took court officials until 2008 to close their case, well within the five-year window.

The issue would only get vetted if Maggart or someone else filed a formal ethics complaint against Rogers.

Maggart declined to comment directly on whether she would do so. When asked, Maggart said she is “focused on getting my message out there about me, about what I’ve done as a state representative.”

Maggart ran a business of her own which closed down in 2008. She was the owner of Best Buy Carpet and Flooring Inc., in Madison, a company she closed when she couldn’t find a warehouse with a showroom she wanted to relocate to closer to home, she said.

Maggart dismissed any comparison of her own business closing and that of Rogers’ husband, calling them “very different.”

“My opponent, she campaigned on the idea of government staying out of her life, yet she didn’t mind asking government to stand between her and her creditors,” Maggart said.

Officials won’t comment on whether the Tennessee Ethics Commission has received a complaint on Rogers’ situation.

Although the bankruptcy was filed and discharged in 2005, the TEC doesn’t have a set definition of whether the ongoing filings since then qualify as “adjudication,” said Becky Bradley, the commission’s ethics specialist.

“It just has not come up before,” she said, adding that the commission would likely have to work with the Attorney General’s office to come up with a definition.

The commission keeps the content and number of filed ethics complaints secret. TEC has publicly considered five complaints since it was founded in 2006 and has thrown the rest out, according to Bradley. None resulted in a finding of an ethics violation.

But a Nashville bankruptcy attorney questioned whether the chain of events in Rogers’ case met the five-year test.

The late closing of the case had nothing to do with the actual ruling and liquidation, which was finished by 2005, says Edgar Rothschild, who was not involved in the case and reviewed the documents at the request of TNReport.

“I see nothing unusual about the fact that it was opened in 2005 and not closed until 2008,” he said. “The fact that the trustee took so long moving his paperwork along and disposing of the assets had nothing to do with the debtors. There is nothing in the report which indicated that the debtors did anything questionable.”