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Press Releases

TNDP: Beavers, Weaver Defend Campaign Contributor’s Cash Infusion

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; Oct. 21, 2010:

NASHVILLE – State Sen. Mae Beavers of Mount Juliet and state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster owe a huge debt of gratitude to a prominent Wilson County man whose furniture and appliance store chain is reportedly under investigation by the state for sales-tax irregularities.

Both lawmakers have received large infusions of cash into their campaign coffers from Albert “A.J.” McCall II, co-owner of D.T. McCall and Sons. The Carthage-based business, according to media reports, has been the focus of a state Department of Revenue investigation, which itself is being reviewed by state and federal law enforcement agencies.

“Mrs. Beavers and Mrs. Weaver have treated Mr. McCall very well,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said. “They even sponsored legislation to help Mr. McCall out of a bind when he got into trouble inappropriately using an official state logo in newspaper advertisements.

“Both of them refuse to support funding critical infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and schools, but they will use taxpayer money to return a favor for a rich campaign contributor like A.J. McCall.”

The legislation (SB3494/HB3629) the two lawmakers sponsored did not become law, but it would have required the state to develop a new logo and spend taxpayer money managing the use of the logo.

Beavers continued her staunch defense of McCall in today’s (Thursday, Oct. 21) edition of the Lebanon Democrat, a local newspaper. Her quote implied she may seek retribution against a District Attorney who requested that state and federal law enforcement authorities take a closer look at the handling of the sales-tax investigation.

“This is an abuse of power and something that needs to be looked into next year,” Beavers, whose campaign treasurer is A. J. McCall’s wife, told the newspaper.

McCall contributed $55,000 to McCall PAC, a political action committee created earlier this year listing him as an officer, according to state records. His father and a co-owner of the store, Albert McCall, contributed $15,000 to McCall PAC last month.

Beavers has received at least $15,000 from the PAC, and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who was a Republican gubernatorial candidate during the summer’s Primary elections, received $7,500. Weaver, an employee of D.T. McCall and Sons, received $10,000 from the PAC last month. Additionally, a political action committee formed by House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of College Grove dubbed CAS-PAC, received $7,500 from McCall PAC.

Numerous other Republican state House and state Senate candidates have received tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from the PAC and family members of the owners of D.T. McCall and Sons.

Last year, A.J. McCall announced his intention to run for the state Senate seat held by Beavers, who had considered a run for Wilson County mayor. Beavers, however, abandoned her mayoral campaign in March of this year after McCall abandoned his run for the state Senate. McCall sought the state House seat of Rep. Stratton Bone of Lebanon in 2008 but lost handily.

“Mrs. Beavers is right about one thing,” Forrester said. “The actions of her, Mrs. Weaver and Mr. McCall need to be looked into now, not next year.

“Voters should know why an elected official would give more preferential treatment to a rich contributor than an ordinary person who struggles with paying a mortgage, utility bills and tuition for a child’s college education,” he added.

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News

Senate Appoints ‘Vivacious Lady’ To Ethics Commission

The newest member of the state’s internal watchdog group says she won’t let partisan politics taint her ability to make fair decisions when weighing in on campaign and lobbyist reporting discrepancies.

Republicans hand-picked Tammy White, a former state government worker, to sit as the party’s Senate representative on the Ethics Commission last week.

Once an East Tennessee regional representative for former Gov. Don Sundquist and a business consultant for the Department of Economic and Community Development, White says she brings diverse experiences and an appreciation for accountability to the table in her new role as a government-employed ethics guru.

She says her experience gives her an edge to figuring out how to make the bureaucratic processes designed to make government more transparent also more efficient.

“You can collect a lot of data, but it’s what you do with the data that makes the most sense and value,” said White, 44, who is now the president and CEO of Leadership Knoxville, an organization that looks to inspire people to better lead their communities. “I think there are things like using more technology, and then reports that can be generated from that technology that can assist on the administrative side of the department.”

The Ethics Commission regulates lobbyist activity and financial disclosure statements from appointed and elected lawmakers.

White is one of six members appointed to the commission which is split evenly to represent both Republicans and Democrats. They set policy, issue opinions and review related complaints.

The members, serving four-year terms, are appointed by leadership in the Senate, House and the governor.

White was one of three people the caucus considered for the position. She replaces Nathaniel Goggins of Chattanooga

Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, called her a “vivacious lady full of energy and character” when introducing her to members of the State an Local Government Committee.

Although her last political work was done on a Republican governor’s watch, White says party biases won’t interfere with her decisions on the commission.

But Sen. Thelma Harper, a Nashville Democrat, said she wanted to make sure anyone taking the spot would be impartial.

“I would hope simply because your politics are different from my politics, I would not want that to get in the way of fairness. That’s the only thing I ask,” said Harper.

“I believe in ethics and transparency in government makes for the best representative government that we could ever have,” she told committee members who voted unanimously for her appointment. “I do believe that we are all human, and can make errors, but I think we can look at that fairly and justly, and I give you my word that that’s exactly what I will do.”

Harper then joked about White slapping candidates with hefty fines, adding, “When you’re female, you have to smile as you turn the knife.”

After working in a variety of government jobs, White says she has an appreciation for transparency in government, holding people accountable and “really trying to find wrong and unethical behavior.”

She maintains that Tennessee, by and large, does a pretty good job at keeping politics clean, and legislative deal-making on the up and up.

“I will do my very best to be impartial when it comes to party politics and to be fair and just,” White told TNReport. “And I think that’s the most that anybody can ask for,” she said.