Press Releases

Pro Wrestler Kane Challenges Ramsey to Tax Debate

Press release from TN Campaign for Liberty; May 15, 2013:

Knoxville, TN – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey is being challenged to a debate on the Internet Sales Tax by professional WWE wrestler and anti-tax activist Glenn Jacobs. In a blog post today Glenn Jacobs (stage name Kane) criticized the Lt. Governor for pushing the Internet sales tax and called for a debate on the topic at the Lt. Governor’s convenience. The blog post can be viewed here:

“Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey claims that the Internet sales tax mandate is not a new tax. Nor, according to Ramsey, is it an unfair tax. Ramsey is wrong on both counts.” Glenn writes. “ I, therefore, invite Lt. Gov. Ramsey for a policy debate on the issue of the Marketplace Fairness Act in a public forum at his convenience.”

In recent weeks Glenn Jacobs has been appearing in various media outlets advocating against the national Internet sales tax mandate with appearances on nationally syndicated terrestrial radio, satellite radio, and local radio stations in Tennessee. Jacobs has written multiple blog posts and op-ed pieces against the national Internet sales tax mandate.

Earlier this week the TN Campaign for Liberty challenged Lt. Gov Ramsey to show he had paid the obscure TN Use Tax for his online purchases after he called the vast majority of Tennesseans “criminals” for not paying it. That release can be viewed here:

The national Internet sales tax mandate will likely come up for a vote in the US House of Representatives later this year. The bill is titled “Marketplace Fairness Act” and is being opposed by the Campaign for Liberty, eBay, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Freedomworks, the Heartland Institute, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, and many other conservative figures.

Glenn Jacobs lives with his family in Jefferson City, Tennessee and is a co-founder of the Tennessee Liberty Alliance Mr. Jacobs is a critic of big government and a professional wrestler with the WWE.

Glenn Jacobs can be scheduled for an interview by emailing

Press Releases

Gresham Challenger Wants Debate

Press release from the Meryl Rice Campaign for District 36; August 16, 2012: 

WHITEVILLE – Senate Candidate Meryl Rice is calling on Senator Delores Gresham today to join her in a public forum for a debate of their issues that are affecting the citizens of District 26.

“The people of this district deserve to have the best information available to them when they prepare to go to the polls in November;” said Rice, “seeing us face-to-face is the best way for voters to make a decision about who would represent them best in Nashville.”

So far, the Hardeman County Journal and the Hardeman County Business and Professional Women have both offered to host debates between the candidates, but Rice says that she is ready to debate wherever the opportunity presents itself.

“I believe that the issues are on my side,” she continued, “and I would love to have an opportunity to prove to the people of this district that Senator Gresham is out of touch with the needs of the people she is supposed to be representing.”

Gresham, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, has presided over some of the most controversial measures in the recent General Assembly, including the overhaul of collective bargaining for teachers, the implementation of a new complicated teacher evaluation system, sending state dollars to an out of state company to operate a virtual school, and an attempt to cut Lottery Scholarships in half for over 5,000 Tennessee students.

Rice has spent her thirty-nine year career working as a human service professional. Her last full-time employment was as the Director of Crisis Services for Quinco Mental Health Centers. She has also worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Professional Counseling Services.

The election for District 26 will take place on November 6th. Due to the once a decade redistricting process, District 26 is now comprised of Chester, Decatur, Haywood, Hardeman, Hardin, Henderson, Fayette, and McNairy Counties.

Meryl Rice is a candidate for Tennessee Senate District 26. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Mississippi. Rice and her husband Randall live on a small farm in Whiteville where they operate a small business; they have three children and five grandchildren. For more information, please call- (731) 609-3236 or email at


Gubernatorial Debate Tonight in Cookeville

The two major candidates for Tennessee governor will face off for the first time tonight at a debate tailored to rural and suburban voters.

But it’s unclear whether either will reveal specific details about their public policies, or stay with general themes like they’ve for the most part done thus far in the campaign.

With seven weeks to go before the Nov. 2 election day, neither Republican Bill Haslam nor Democrat Mike McWherter has shed much light on what programs they would cut next year to balance the state’s $13 billion budget — nor have they offered specific details on what programs they would create and how they would work.

Haslam and McWherter will face about an hour’s worth of questions on topics ranging from economic development, health, education and small businesses issues from a rural and suburban standpoint, according to a spokeswoman from the Highlands Debate 2010 at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. Questions will come from a moderator, attendees in the audience and from viewers on YouTube.

The candidates will also get to direct inquiries at each other.

The debate is a production of the university, League of Women Voters of Tennessee and Nashville’s WTVF News Channel 5. It’ll be broadcast live statewide by CBS affiliates statewide at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Voters will likely get to hear more from Haslam about his data-driven “dashboard” plan to track the state’s progress on five issues ranging from job and economic development, fiscal strength and education and workforce development to safety and public health. The plan includes using data to track the state performance on major issues such as the state’s unemployment rate or the number of diabetes cases and holding commissioners responsible for the outcomes.

But when asked by reporters Monday why he left out the details about how he’d measure improvement in those areas — or what benchmarks his administration would aim to reach — he said it was too early to get too specific.

“I’ve just said here’s the five things we’re going to focus on, here’s things we think it’s fair to measure us on and here’s some very specific items within each one of those five things that we’re welcoming accountability on,” said Haslam.

It’s premature to say exactly how much he expects those efforts will translate into improvements throughout the state because he and his staff don’t yet occupy the governor’s office, he continued

“What I’m not ready to tell you right now is X percent is going to be an acceptable target because the team that develops that has to be a part of buying into that goal,” he said.

Likewise, McWherter also has for the most part avoided delving into policy minutia, or the nuts and bolts of how he’d keep state government living within its means. His website says simply that he’ll promote fiscal responsibility if elected — along with cutting taxes for businesses that hire new employees.

Transparency and Elections

Haslam Uninterested in Debating Wamp Again

U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp has challenged Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam to more debates in their Republican gubernatorial primary, but it appears Wamp shouldn’t hold his breath.

The Haslam campaign shows little interest in even considering Wamp’s desire; they point to what is believed to be a record number of joint appearances among the candidates, mostly at forums.

Wamp, from Chattanooga, was shown lagging behind Haslam in a recent independent poll, with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey following in third place as the field heads to the Aug. 5 primary. Early voting has already begun.

The poll, conducted by WSMV-TV in Nashville, showed Haslam with 32 percent of the vote, Wamp with 21 percent and Ramsey with 11 percent but still a high number of undecided votes at 36 percent.

WSMV aired a live debate on July 12, but that is likely to be the last debate before Republican voters choose a nominee.

The candidates have made more than 100 such appearances dating back to last year. In fact, the gubernatorial candidates have made appearances recently at county Republican Party picnics that the main contenders attended and spoke at a year ago. They’re now making repeat appearances at those annual events.

Most of those appearances in the last year, which included numerous indoor dinners in the winter months, have been forums, where candidates each answer the same question but have little interaction with each other and rarely get to engage in meaningful debate.

The debate July 12 allowed candidates the rare opportunity to ask each other questions, although the time for answers was extremely limited as debate organizers tried to get as many questions into the one-hour event as possible.

“Candidates got to ask each other questions, and everybody took a liberal opportunity to ask me questions,” Haslam said.

The attention did appear to focus on Haslam, a clear indication that Republican opponents view him as leading the race and that Democrat Mike McWherter expects to meet Haslam in the general election Nov. 2. McWherter joined Haslam’s Republican opponents in getting in jabs at the Knoxville mayor.

Wamp said in a formal release that more debates would give Haslam the opportunity to publicly address issues that Wamp is raising about Haslam, who has refused throughout the campaign to reveal his income from the privately held family business, Pilot Corp., which recently became Pilot Family J through a merger that makes Pilot Flying J one of the top 10 largest privately owned companies in the nation.

“We’ve had plenty of chances to answer questions of all different types from all types of people,” Haslam said. “We’ve been doing this for a year and a half, and I’m not sure how all of a sudden Zach decided there was a need.

“And why all of a sudden he didn’t think Ron should be a part of that too. That would be my question. Why shouldn’t Ron be a part of that?”

Wamp’s release says Haslam should join him at additional debates, claiming Haslam is “stonewalling” and trying to convince voters that “he’s something that he is not.” The request does not include Ramsey, who has been in the top tier of contenders since the race began.

“I challenge Bill Haslam to come out from behind his big oil money and advertising curtain and debate these issues publicly with me before the voters of this state,” Wamp’s release said.

An underdog asking for direct debates with the leader is common in campaigns. In fact, in 2004, Wamp declined to debate his Democratic opponent in one of his races for the 3rd District congressional seat. A report from the archive of WBIR-TV in Knoxville said Wamp preferred to be “out with the people” rather than debate his challenger, John Wolfe.

Tom Ingram, general consultant to the Haslam campaign and a veteran of major campaigns in the state, said reasons behind the attempt by Wamp for more debates are easy to see.

“The only reason a candidate wants more debates is they have probably run out of money and need the free media, and they’ve seen numbers that cause them to be desperate,” Ingram said. “They’re throwing Hail Marys.

“You were there Monday night. That was a splendid exchange of ideas. We’ve got a schedule from now to the primary to spend with the voters, and that’s where we’re are going to spend it.”

Haslam also pointed to his campaign’s busy schedule leading to Aug. 5.

“We’ve been working hard to make sure we take advantage of them. It’s not exactly like we’ve been avoiding our opponents in this,” Haslam said.

Wamp has not let up on Haslam, however.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions,” Wamp said. “When there are that many unanswered questions and a candidate is hiding behind $15 million or whatever it’s going to be, we need more debates.

“We need more interaction. There was a big undecided. When there are this many undecided voters this late, we ought to have more debates, not less.”

Press Releases

Wamp Wants More Debates

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor, July 17, 2010:

Wamp calls for more televised debates to address lingering questions about Haslam’s record; Says Haslam should stop stonewalling and answer all questions

CHATTANOOGA – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for Governor, today challenged Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam to join him at additional televised debates across the state so that Haslam may directly address lingering questions many Tennessee voters still have about his history of price-gouging consumers at the gas pumps, raising taxes during his first year as mayor and joining New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg in a direct assault on the rights of Tennessee gun owners.

Wamp said more interactive televised debates would give Haslam the opportunity to fully, honestly and publicly address these and other issues that Haslam has refused to answer.

“For months now, we have asked Mayor Haslam to do what all of the other candidates have done, and that is to be fully open and transparent about his personal income taxes, his company’s many conflicts of interest with the state and the Mayor’s record of public service that is anything but conservative,” Wamp said.

“But at each turn, Mayor Haslam has tried to deal with these questions by stonewalling and spending more money to try and convince voters he’s something that he is not. Today, I challenge Bill Haslam to come out from behind his big oil money and advertising curtain and debate these issues publicly with me before the voters of this state.”

Despite Mayor Haslam’s call for “civility” earlier in the year, the Haslam campaign was the first to use paid phone banks to launch negative attacks against his opponents several months ago when it was caught using highly unethical “push-polling” against both the Wamp and Ramsey campaigns.

Many of the issues Wamp raised are addressed in a new television ad called “Rusty” that the Wamp campaign is now airing that features a lifelong Tennessean named Rusty Criminger.

Business and Economy Education Liberty and Justice News Transparency and Elections

Haslam Gets Lots of Attention in 4-Way Debate

Three candidates converged on Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam in a rapid-fire, statewide televised gubernatorial debate Monday night, and the darts at Haslam kept flying afterward.

Haslam is widely perceived as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, and he was grilled by his opponents — two Republicans and one Democrat — on issues ranging from his refusal to disclose income from the family business to trying to be somebody in his campaign commercials he is not.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey started early by telling the audience he wanted to point out differences between him and his two Republican opponents. U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, a Republican, went mostly after Haslam during the debate and especially after it went off the air.

In a debate laden with references to holy scripture and solemn appeals for prayer, Haslam’s political rivals seemed most concerned with bearing witness that the truck-stop scion is ultimately a man of the almighty dollar.

The debate was fast and furious. Ramsey said he was the only candidate who has said how he would make substantial cuts that are expected next year. Haslam said it will take a thousand small cuts, not one or two big ones.

Mike McWherter, the lone Democrat remaining in the race who will face off against the GOP’s primary winner in November, frequently lauded Gov. Phil Bredesen for the job he has done managing the state and used opportunities to emphasize his plan to create jobs over the past eight years.

Haslam said the best way to fight illegal immigration is to focus on employers and cut off the job source. Ramsey said he wanted a law in Tennessee like Arizona’s to crack down on illegal immigration.

At one point Haslam defended his refusal to disclose his income from the family’s main businesss, Pilot Corp., which recently became Pilot Flying J in a merger, and he said it’s no secret where his income comes from. Ramsey questioned Haslam on his gun rights record, and Haslam promised he will support Second Amendment rights.

On education, McWherter said the state should keep a focus on pre-kindergarten education. Ramsey opposes universal pre-K. Wamp was quick to point to his focus on early childhood reading. Haslam said raising standards and a focus on quality teachers and principals are important in education.

McWherter said one priority should be boost the state’s rainy day fund.

When allowed to ask a direct question, Wamp asked Haslam how he could have contributed to Democrat Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 1988.

Haslam responded that he has a long record of helping conservative candidates. Haslam said Wamp had filmed a negative ad and asked Wamp why, and Wamp said Haslam was creating a “persona” that is not the real Bill Haslam.

The one-hour debate was designed to use a combination of questions from members of a town hall-type audience, as well as technology such as Facebook and Skype. Candidates were given only 30 seconds for answers, so there was little chance to expand on any thought, but the format did provide for a large number of questions to be posed for the one hour. The debate was an extremely rare chance for the candidates to question each other.

But there was still plenty of questioning each other through the media after the debate. Ramsey kept citing differences between himself and both Haslam and Wamp. Wamp insisted Haslam is now spending his own money, which Haslam didn’t exactly dispute.

Wamp seized on Haslam’s refusal to disclose his income from the Haslam family business, Pilot Corp., which recently got federal approval to merge with Flying J travel centers to make Pilot Flying J one of the top 10 privately held companies in the nation.

That’s too privately held for Wamp’s taste.

“He’s going to spend whatever money they have to convince the people that he’s somebody that he’s not,” Wamp told reporters. “I don’t want that to happen for Tennessee voters. Just because somebody’s got a lot of money, they can create a candidate and spend $20 million-$30 million convincing people he’s somebody that he’s not.”

Ramsey spelled it out.

“I don’t think he’s talked anything about any policy to this point,” Ramsey said of Haslam. “All he’s done is said I’m a nice guy that sneaks a piece of pie every once in awhile and knows somebody named Kempie in Memphis.”

The reference was to the wholesome, folksy-themed television advertisements that have characterized the Haslam campaign.

“Even tonight it was the same way,” Ramsey said. “Where is he going to make tough cuts? Where is he on Second Amendment rights?

“I don’t think he knows a 12-gauge shotgun from a 20-gauge shotgun, and suddenly he’s saying he’s the real deal. It’s not being the real deal in trying to portray himself to be something he’s not, and if he didn’t have the money to sell himself on television he would not be in this race.”

Ramsey said Wamp has “never seen a spending bill he didn’t like” and said, “I do think Mayor Haslam wouldn’t be a legitimate candidate if he wasn’t worth a billion dollars.”

Wamp says Haslam must have something to hide by not disclosing his Pilot income.

“I just said I was not going to completely walk away without exposing some of the truth about the real Bill Haslam,” Wamp said. “One of the problems is you would not do this unless you were hiding something.

“The hiding could be anything from unbelievable tax shelters or y’all (reporters) spending the rest of the campaign going through all the different conflicts of interest, which are not into the dozens, they’re into the hundreds, based on how many different things they own and how many different family members are partners in different things.”

Wamp said Haslam could have numerous conflicts of interest as governor because of his business, a criticism that was leveled at Haslam from the day he refused to disclose his income from Pilot when the four major newspapers in the state asked for financial disclosures and printed the story in December 2009. Haslam, who did disclose income from investments outside Pilot, has been steadfast in his refusal to disclose on Pilot.

“We could potentially have a governor in this state that can’t take a position on hardly anything, because he has a direct conflict of interest on everything,” Wamp said. “They could run the tables on Tennessee voters if we don’t know what it is they own and who they own it with.”

Press Releases

Gubernatorial Candidate Forum Scheduled for Children’s Advocacy Days: March 9-10

Press Release from the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, 1 March 2010:

Candidates to lead Tennessee will share their plans to care for its future – its children – Wednesday, March 10, in a forum at Children’s Advocacy Days.

The Children’s Advocacy forum is part of a two-day event focusing ?attention on issues affecting children and providing citizens information for policy advocacy for children. Sponsored by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth and its regional councils, the free ?event will be at War Memorial Auditorium March 9-10.

Nashville journalism legend and founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University John Seigenthaler will moderate the 10 a.m. forum. Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, former state House Democratic Leader Kim ?McMillan, Jackson businessman Mike McWherter, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and Congressman Zach Wamp have confirmed participation in the forum. News Channel 5, the Nashville CBS affiliate will broadcast the forum at times to be announced prior to the election and make it available to other CBS affiliates across the state.

Children’s Advocacy Days, in its 22nd year, will also feature presentations on critical services on Tuesday, March 9. The Making KIDS COUNT Media, Youth Excellence and the Jim Pryor Child Advocacy awards will be announced on the event’s first day.

Bill Bentley, president of Voices for America’s Children’s, will kick off Wednesday’s events, which also include a presentation by Education Commissioner Tim Webb on Tennessee’s Race to the Top.

In keeping with the election year activities, the theme of 2010 Children’s Advocacy Days will be a political picnic, with everything but the ants – opportunities for participants to meet their legislative ?representatives, plan to work together and celebrate their hard work and vision for Tennessee’s children.

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is an independent agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its ?primary mission is to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee children and families. For more information contact TCCY at (615) 741-2633 or visit the agency website at Online registration (at ends midnight Thursday, March 4. Onsite registration begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Additional information on the event is available at