Press Releases

TNDP: GOP U.S. Senate Primary will Feature ‘Extremism, Intolerance’

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 20, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron issued a statement Tuesday saying the Primary for U.S. Senate between incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander and State Rep. Joe Carr will place Republican extremism and intolerance center stage:

“This Republican Senate Primary will be a race to the bottom of fear and hate. Women and children, workers and the middle class, have much to fear from these two candidates and much to hate about their records.

“In Washington, Senator Alexander voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In Nashville, Representative Carr voted to strip women of any state constitutional right to choose, not even to save their own lives.

“In Washington, Alexander wants to eliminate the minimum wage. In Nashville, Carr voted against fairly compensating those too injured to work.

“In Washington, Alexander voted for budget-busting tax breaks for billionaires and big oil. In Nashville, Carr abolished inheritance taxes for billionaires and denied college scholarships for the middle class and working poor.”

Press Releases

TNDP Renew Demands for Haslam to Release Tax Returns

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; July 10, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s repeated self-dealing and government handouts to wealthy friends has prompted Democrats to renew a challenge to the governor to release his tax returns.

“With Haslam’s wealthy and well-connected friends lining up for multi-million dollar handouts from the governor’s office, Tennesseans have a right to know if Haslam is profiting from this double-dealing, too,” said Brandon Puttbrese, spokesman for the Tennessee Democratic Party. “It’s time for Gov. Haslam to stop hiding his tax returns and prove he has no conflict of interest in these no-bid contracts and huge handouts for his rich friends.”

In recent days, news agencies have reported multiple state contracts and inside deals that financially benefit Haslam’s friends and well-connected special interests. They include:

  • A top political adviser to the governor, on Haslam’s personal payroll, was given high-level access to government officials for his clients. [, 7/8/13]
  • A current board member and part-owner of Pilot being appointed by the governor as the interim president of University of Memphis. [MemphisFlyer, 6/4/13]
  • Another Pilot board member running the parent company of a mining firm that wants to extract coal from public land in Tennessee. [AP, 6/26/13]
  • A $38 million deal to manage state buildings and lease negotiations with a commercial real estate firm Haslam once listed as one of his major investments. [, 6/26/13]
  • A no-bid contract to outsource the state motor vehicle fleet — at a greater cost to taxpayers — to a well-connected rental car company. [, 5/13/13]

“Working and middle class families need a leader who looks out for regular Tennesseans and proves it with their policies — not a self-serving politician who only looks out for himself and their wealthy friends and then tries to mislead us about it,” Puttbrese said.

The Tennessee Democratic Party is collecting signatures on a petition hosted at calling for Gov. Haslam to release his tax returns.

Press Releases

TNDP Calls on Haslam to Disclose Income

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; June 19, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On the heels of three guilty pleas tied to a scandal embroiling Gov. Bill Haslam’s Pilot Flying J truck stop chain, the Tennessee Democratic Party is calling for the governor to release his tax returns and show how much he makes annually from Pilot Oil and other investments.

On Tuesday, three more Pilot Flying J employees pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a scheme that padded corporate profits by defrauding small business owners and trucking companies of millions worth of rebates. Two additional employees of the $30 billion company pleaded guilty in May.

“With five guilty pleas, we know Gov. Haslam’s company Pilot Oil stole from working and middle class family businesses, but the question of how much money poured into the governor’s personal fortune from this fraud remains unanswered,” said Brandon Puttbrese, party spokesman. “We don’t know because Gov. Haslam is hiding his income.”

For years, Republican and Democratic governors in Tennessee have embraced the values of open and honest governing by voluntarily releasing their tax returns.

“Tennesseans are due the same financial transparency from Haslam that other governors — whose companies weren’t the subject of fraud investigations — have shown,” Puttbrese said. “It is clear Haslam prefers to work in secret, but our democracy is built on accountability, and we can’t hold politicians accountable when they refuse to come clean on simple matters like releasing their tax returns.”

In May, the TNDP posted an online petition asking citizens to add their name in support of calling on the governor to release his tax returns.


Haslam Broke “Tradition” of Releasing Returns. Bill Haslam’s refusal to release his tax returns during the gubernatorial campaign (and in years following) breaks “a long tradition of governors disclosing their returns voluntarily. Republican governors including Lamar Alexander and Don Sundquist did so, along with Democrats including Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen.” [, 10/9/11]

Haslam’s First Decision As Governor: Hide Pilot Income. “Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has signed an executive order that eliminates a requirement for the governor and top aides to disclose how much they earn.” [Associated Press,, 1/16/11]

Press Releases

TNDP: State Charter Authorizer Bill ‘Rushed Through Committee’ by GOP

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; April 3, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Republicans who control Nashville rushed through committee a measure to create a state charter school authorizer — a centralized government body that strips school decisions away from local boards.

Charter schools approved by the state charger authorizer would have to be funded by local taxpayers whether there was money available or not. To address the issue of the unfunded mandate, House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) introduced a measure that would have set in place financial guardrails to protect local taxpayers from a tax increase.

“This bill, without guardrails, is the mother of all unfunded mandates. It will give a state bureaucracy the power to create an unlimited number of charter schools, which will result in massive tax increases or local governments,” said House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “I offered a common-sense amendment to help protect taxpayers, but the special interests behind this bill override common-sense.”

HB 702, the state charter authorizer sponsored by Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) will create a new state bureaucracy to oversee appeals of charter schools administrators denied by local school boards. In the third substantive change to the bill since it was introduced, the new language limits the panel’s authority to school districts which are designated “priority” districts.

During the committee hearing, Leader Fitzhugh noted this would be duplicative and a waste of taxpayer funds. The Achievement School District already has the authority to authorize charters in districts who perform in the bottom 5 percent of the state.

“This is a bad bill that keeps getting worse as the sponsors wheel and deal behind the scenes to pass something — anything — regardless of whether it will improve the performance of students in our district,” said Rep. Mike Stewart (D-Nashville). “I am deeply disappointed that Commissioner Kevin Huffman worked behind the scenes to kill the amendment that would have protected taxpayers in Davidson County and across Tennessee.

“The fact that he refused to even meet with local school board members in Nashville shows his level of contempt for Davidson County taxpayers and elected officials,” Stewart said.

The charter authorizer bill passed out of the House Finance Ways & Means subcommittee on a voice vote and will move on to the full committee next week.

Press Releases

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.”

Press Releases

Herron: Medicaid Rejection Not ‘Pro-Life’ Decision

Statement from the Tennessee Democratic Party; March 27, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron issued a statement Wednesday in response to Governor Bill Haslam’s rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid.

“Deuteronomy 30 urges us to ‘choose life,’ but self-proclaimed ‘pro-life’ Republicans applauded the governor denying health insurance to 300,000 Tennesseans in working families, even though that means each week another parent, another child, another loved one — or two — will die,” Herron said. “Reactionary and radical Republicans should never again call themselves ‘pro-life,’ not while condemning working Tennesseans without health insurance to die.”

In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in an article called “Mortality and Access to Care among Adults after State Medicaid Expansions” that lives can be saved by expanding Medicaid.

“Tennessee should choose science instead of selfishness, people instead of politics, life instead of death,” Herron said.


Forrester: DesJarlais Should Step Down

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester on Monday called on embattled US Rep. Scott DesJarlais to resign, saying the Republican Congressman “ran his medical practice like a Craigslist cathouse.”

Forrester’s comments came in the wake of news reports this weekend from the Chattanooga Times Free Press that a second woman has come forward to say that DesJarlais, a physician, had a sexual relationship with her while she was under his medical care.

From the Times Free Press:

The second woman described DesJarlais as “the nicest guy” and said he cooked dinner for her at their first get-together in 2000.

But she also said they smoked marijuana during their relationship and remembered DesJarlais prescribing her pain medication on dates at his home.

Also speaking at the conference was Ronald Wilson, a Brentwood neurologist, who the Tennessee Democratic Party asked to attend.

“Anything that is less than providing good health care to our patients is regrettable,” Wilson said.

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

Press Releases

TNDP Sends ‘Most Diverse Delegation in TN History’ to DNC

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 31,  2012: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Democratic Party is proud to be sending the most diverse delegation in Tennessee history to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

“Earlier this year our Executive Committee made a commitment to sending a delegation to Charlotte that is wholly representative of who we are as Tennessee Democrats as well as the future of our state party,” said Chip Forrester, Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “We gain strength from our diversity, and I am excited and proud to say that we are sending a more diverse delegation to the Convention than we have ever sent before.”

The Democratic National Convention begins Labor Day and concludes Thursday, Sept. 6th.

Tennessee’s delegation consists of many individuals with unique and inspiring stories about their journey in life, and to become delegates to this historic convention. The TNDP Communications Staff will be working with media outlets during the duration of the convention to help get these stories out to your readers, listeners or viewers.

Attached is a list of the Tennessee Delegation (pending final acceptance and approval by the DNC Credentials Committee).

Delegate Type First Name Last Name City
At-Large Rep. Joe Armstrong Knoxville
At-Large Walter Buford Jonesborough
At-Large Vilma Cueva Spring Hill
At-Large Sonja Fox Johnson City
At-Large William Freeman Nashville
At-Large LaTarsha Hanna-Huff Jackson
At-Large Joan Hill Mufreesboro
At-Large Henry Hooper Memphis
At-Large Nika Jackson Memphis
At-Large Ashley Judd Franklin
At-Large Rep. Larry Miller Memphis
At-Large Nataly Morales Corryton
At-Large Adrienne Pakis-Gillon Germantown
At-Large Marrisa Richmond Nashville
At-Large Gerard Stranch Franklin
At-Large Jonathan Taylor Thomas Chattanooga
At-Large Jane Tucker Shelbyville
At-Large Mike Turner Old Hickory
At-Large Barbara West Spring City
At-Large-Alt Raymond Curry Smyrna
District 1 Jennie Carter Kingsport
District 1 Micki Carter Johnson City
District 1 Cathey Dayton Sevierville
District 1 Mike Lane Watauga
District 1 William McKamey Piney Flats
District 2 Brandon Cook Maryville
District 2 Preston Fields Maryville
District 2 Linda Haney Powell
District 2 Gloria Johnson Knoxville
District 2 Judy Lee Madisonville
District 2 Jerome Miller Knoxville
District 3 Carl Brackin Georgetown
District 3 Jan Brooks Chattanooga
District 3 Richard Dawson Clinton
District 3 Sally Love Ocoee
District 4 Lisa Bilbrey Crossville
District 4 R.G Cravens Crossville
District 4 Lynn Nelson Columbia
District 4 Lenda Sherrell Monteagle
District 4 Helen Stapleton Sewanee
District 5 Ivan Cerda Antioch
District 5 Brenda Gilmore Nashville
District 5 Walter Hunt Nashville
District 5 Romel McMurry Lebanon
District 5 Kathleen Murphy Nashville
District 5 Freda Player Nashville
District 5 James Robertson Mt. Juliet
District 5- Alt Rodriquez Wright Nashville
District 6 Jared Barrett Murfreesboro
District 6 Darrell Bouldin Murfreesboro
District 6 Mary Evins Smithville
District 6 Kay Kemnitz Gallatin
District 6 Kimberli Rose-Jensen Smyrna
District 6 Zach Young Goodlettsville
District 6- Alt Janet Moore Cookerville
District 7 Credo Amouzouvik Clarksville
District 7 James Braswell Eads
District 7 Dave Cambron Cordova
District 7 Toney Campbell Decaturville
District 7 Patsy Lewis Selmer
District 7 Merriel Neal Clarksville
District 7 Meryl Rice Whiteville
District 8 Angela Callis Martin
District 8 Najanna Coleman Milan
District 8 Nicolle Crist Dresden
District 8 Jim Midyett Jackson
District 8 Robert Radford Huntingdon
District 8 Charles Uffelman Erin
District 8-Alt Heather Mummert Huntingdon
District 9 Virgie Banks Memphis
District 9 Lexie Carter Memphis
District 9 James Johnson Memphis
District 9 Zayid Saleem Memphis
District 9 Van Turner Memphis
District 9 Dr. Freda Williams Memphis
District 9 Dianne Withers Memphis
District 9-Alt Brenda Ables Fayetteville
District 9-Alt William Stovall Memphis
PLEO Councilwoman Megan Barry Nashville
PLEO Rep. Karen Camper Memphis
PLEO Mayor Karl Dean Nashville
PLEO Rep. Lois DeBerry Memphis
PLEO Rep. Joanne Favors Chattanooga
PLEO Rep. Craig Fitzhugh Ripley
PLEO Sen. Thelma Harper Whites Creek
PLEO Sen. Jim Kyle Memphis
PLEO Councilman Jerry Maynard Nashville
PLEO Rep. Gary Moore Joelton
PLEO Mayor A C Wharton Memphis
Superdelegate Will Cheek Nashville
Superdelegate Rep. Steven Cohen Memphis
Superdelegate Rep. Jim Cooper Nashville
Superdelegate Chip Forrester Nashville
Superdelegate Hon. Al Gore Nashville
Superdelegate Gale Jones Carson Memphis
Superdelegate Myron Lowery Memphis
Superdelegate Bill Owen Knoxville
Superdelegate Elisa Parker Franklin
Press Releases

TNDP Blames GOP for State Unemployment Uptick

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 16, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans saw the third straight month of higher unemployment numbers when the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued figures showing that Tennessee’s unemployment rating rose .3% to 8.4%, eclipsing the national average of 8.3%.

“Democratic lawmakers rang the alarm bells about the need for a pro-jobs agenda to put Tennesseans back to work, but the Republican party was too focused on settling political scores and stacking the deck against Tennessee’s working class to stop and listen,” said Brandon Puttbrese, Communications Director. “If the GOP would have worked as hard to protect the middle class as they worked to reward the special interests, we’d be seeing unemployment numbers going in the right direction today.”

Press Releases

TNDP: Kiesling Spreading ‘Disgusting Conspiracy Theories’ on Taxpayer Dime

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; August 1, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester is calling on Rep. Kelly Keisling to take responsibility for using taxpayer resources to send out unfounded and disgusting conspiracy theories about our President.

“Republicans in the legislature are bound and determined to turn Tennessee into a laughing stock with their ridiculous antics,” said Forrester. “For Kelly Keisling to use state resources to send out a rumor-filled and dangerous email is an egregious abuse of power and tax payer dollars. The people of his district and of Tennessee deserve to have a representative who is focused on their well-being, not in spreading fear and inducing panic. “

In a statement released to media by the House Republican Caucus Press Secretary Brent Leatherwood, Rep. Keisling was vague about who was responsible for this email being sent out on the taxpayer funded email account. The original email, sent by Legislative Assistant Holt Whit, claims that Keisling himself requested the email be sent to constituents.

“If you promote this kind of a foolish and malicious rumor, you should take ownership of it,” said David Harper, Democratic candidate running to replace Keisling. “It is totally inappropriate for my opponent to use taxpayer funds on an effort to distract voters from his failure to deliver on his campaign promises. I chose to run because I could no longer tolerate these crackpot conspiracy theories and side-issues taking priority over local needs such as jobs, education, roads, and infrastructure.”


Tennessee Lawmaker Says Obama May Stage Fake Assassination. Keisling “sent an email from his state email account to constituents containing a rumor that Obama and the Department of Homeland Security are planning a series of events that could lead to the imposition of ‘martial law’ and delay the election [Political Wire, 7/31/12]

Kelly Keisling, Tennessee Legislator, Mass Emailed Obama ‘Staged Assassination’ Rumor. A Republican member of the Tennessee state legislature emailed constituents Tuesday morning with a rumor circulating in conservative circles that President Barack Obama is planning to stage a fake assassination attempt in an effort to stop the 2012 election from happening. Keisling’s assistant, Frankie Anderson, confirmed that the email was sent “at Keisling’s request” from a state account under the name of Holt Whitt, who is identified in the email as Keisling’s assistant. Anderson said he is filling in for Whitt. [Huffington Post, 8/1/12]

Tinfoil Hat Society: State Legislator Warns of Obama’s Fake Assassination Plot [Updated]. Keisling has released a statement: “Earlier this week, I forwarded an email from my legislative office that should not have been sent out. The message was inappropriate for distribution. I regret the error and pledge to be more cautious regarding the information distributed from my office in the future.” [Nashville Scene, 8/1/12]