Press Releases

Zelenik: Black a Mudslinger

Press release from the Campaign for Lou Ann Zelenik for U.S. Congress; July 23, 2012: 

MT JULIET, TN – The Diane Black’s Campaign becomes more desperate after reports of falling poll numbers and lack of any grassroots support. Their candidate has become increasingly shrill in campaign appearances. It seems Diane Black’s campaign has come unhinged. The latest stop in Diane Black’s journey into the political gutter comes in the form of a slew of false and misleading attack ads smearing Sixth District Congressional Candidate Lou Ann Zelenik.

Zelenik Campaign Manager Jay Heine noted today “that Diane Black’s campaign is routinely wrong, dishonest or both about Lou Ann, her positions and her campaign. We are confident the voters of Tennessee will understand a desperate politician will say or do anything to hold on to power. If Diane Black can’t be honest about these basic facts, how can we trust any claim she makes?”

“Congresswoman Black has been misleading Republicans in agitated comments at campaign events about her record of voting to increasing the debt (S.365), funding Obamacare (HR 1, HJ Res. 48, HR 1473, S.365, HR 2608, HR 2055), slashing defense spending (S.365), increasing taxes on our mortgages (HR 3630 Dec 20th 2011) and funding Planned Parenthood (HR 1, S.365) – all votes on the record and all votes Diane Black is ashamed to own up to. Now, her campaign is spreading misinformation about Lou Ann Zelenik’s record and background.” Heine concludes “we’ve seen this before and it is wearing thin on voters.”

Lou Ann Zelenik’s campaign will not jump into Diane Black’s mud puddle. Lou Ann will continue to offer the voters a positive alternative based on the issues and her conservative principles. We will conduct our campaign in a manner that honors the people Lou Ann wishes to serve.

Anyone interested in her campaign can stop by the headquarters at 1253 N. Mt. Juliet Rd, Mount Juliet TN, 37122 or call (615) 758-9040.

Press Releases

Black: Zelenik of Coordinating with Law-Breaking Attack Group

Press release from Rep. Diane Black Campaign; July 23, 2012: 

Zelenik Campaign Coordinating with Shadow Attack Group That is Breaking Federal Law to Attack Black With Lies

Black campaign calls on Lou Ann Zelenik to disavow the false negative attacks coordinated by Zelenik campaign team and run an honest and ethical Campaign

GALLATIN, TN — The Diane Black for Congress Campaign today called on Lou Ann Zelenik to disavow the false negative attacks being run by shadowy groups coordinating with her campaign and run an honest and ethical campaign. The group Citizens 4 Ethics in Government that is spending over $100,000 on false ads attacking Black was formed and is solely financed by Andy Miller, Zelenik’s Campaign Finance Chairman, and is in violation of at least one federal campaign finance law.

“Lou Ann Zelenik needs to cease and desist with the false and illegal campaign activities. We are calling on Lou Ann Zelenik to disavow the lies being spewed by a shadowy group her campaign is coordinating with and demand the ads be taken down. Not only is this behavior dishonest, it is illegal,” said Black spokesman Jennifer Baker. “The shadowy group attacking Diane Black with a barrage of false claims on TV is being financed and run by Lou Ann Zelenik’s campaign finance chairman and is in violation of the law. One would hope that if Lou Ann Zelenik is running to make federal laws in Congress she would follow federal laws in her campaign.”

The shadowy independent group called Citizens 4 Ethics in Government is running over a hundred thousands of dollars in false ads against Diane Black and is violating at least one federal law by failing to disclose its campaigns expenditures as required by the Federal Election Commission. (Specific FEC law cited below). The group also appears to be in violation of the coordination laws surrounding these secret groups. Andy Miller, Zelenik’s Campaign Finance Chairman, is the only donor to Citizens 4 Ethics in Government and filings show that he has given over $100,000 to the group. The group was formed recently to influence this race specifically. In addition to the group being formed, financed and run by Miller, the Zelenik campaign is telling supporters they are coordinating to “take out” Diane Black and keep Lou Ann’s hands clean.

“Lou Ann Zelenik will stop at nothing in her crazy vendetta against Diane Black and that includes telling vicious lies in coordination with a shadow group that is violating federal election law,” said Baker. “Our Country is in peril. We have a national debt that exceeds $16 trillion dollars and the citizens of the 6th Congressional District need an honest Congressman representing them who won’t put her own personal vendetta above the law or fixing our Country’s serious problems.”

Zelenik who resides in the 4th Congressional District, has rented an apartment in the 6th District for the purpose of running against Diane Black to satisfy her own personal vendetta. In her last losing campaign against Black, Zelenik ran one of the dirtiest campaigns in Tennessee history. The attacks Zelenik launched on Black were so false that Zelenik’s advertising team settled out of court; paying a monetary settlement and admitting that the negative attack ads they produced for Lou Ann Zelenick had no factual basis and they had no knowledge of any unethical behavior. (Settlement document attached to email) Now she is at it again, coordinating with shadowy groups that are violating the law and running hundreds of thousands of dollars in false attacks on Diane Black.


FEC LAW:, Scroll down to 24-Hour Reports

Once an individual’s or political committee’s aggregate independent expenditures reach or exceed $1,000 with respect to a given election, and are made fewer than 20 days, but more than 24 hours, before an election, the independent expenditure must be reported to, and received by, the FEC within 24 hours of the time the communication is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated. These reports must include all independent expenditures with respect to that election that have not been previously disclosed. 11 CFR 104.4(c), (e)(2)(ii) and (f); 109.10(d).

Failure to file the 24 hour report or the 48 hour report is against the law. Citizens 4 Ethicsin Government has failed to file their expenditures. The attached excel sheets shows that they have made over $120k in expenditures that we know of beginning on 6/29 and still have not filed as of July 20th according to the FEC.

Check of FEC database shows failure to file proper disclosure:

Committee ID: C00524082
Treasurer Name: MICHAEL LEISEY
Committee Designation: (UNAUTHORIZED)


  • Address: 4117 Hillsboro Pike, Suite 103-315, Nashville, TN 37215. (“Contact Us,”Citizens for Ethics in Government Web site, accessed 7/20/2012)
  • This address is the same as a UPS Store location in Nashville. (“The UPS Store #2863,”UPS Store Web site, accessed 7/20/2012)
  • Michael Leisey is listed as the treasurer for the committee. (Citizens 4 Ethics in Government, Committee ID: C00524082,FEC Web site, accessed 7/20/2012)
  • Leisey donated $500 to Scott Desjarlais’ campaign in March 2012. (Friends of Scott DesJarlais, April Quarterly report, Federal Election Commission, filed 4/13/2012)
  • The committee’s only donor so far is Andrew Miller of Nashville. He donated $95,000 on July 2, 2012. Miller is listed in the committee’s FEC report as the CEO of Healthmark Ventures. (Citizens 4 – Ethics in Government, Committee ID: C00524082, Pre-Primary report, Schedule A Receipts,Federal Election Commission, filed 7/20/2012)
  • Miller donated to Lou Ann Zelenik’s 2010 campaign. (Search for Andrew Miller in Tennessee, Advanced Transaction Query By Individual Contributor, FEC Web site, accessed 7/20/2012; Lou Ann for Congress, July Quarterly report,Federal Election Commission, filed 6/27/2011)
  • Miller is a finance chairman for the Lou Ann Zelenik for Congress Campaign.

Attached is a document detailing the spending of Citizens 4 Ethics in Government.

And the legal documents showing that the advertising firm that produced Lou Ann Zelenik’s negative attack ads against Diane Black in the 20010 election had to settle out of court paying a monetary settlement and admitted that to their knowledge the ads were false.

News Transparency and Elections

Black Setting Her Sights on November

Tennessee state election officials plan to review Rutherford County’s failure to open the polls on the first Saturday of early voting, although it appears that the hearing will not change local election results.

The most high-profile race in the district ended in a near three-way dead-heat for the GOP nomination in the 6th Congressional District. The apparent winner, state Sen. Diane Black, edged both her opponents — state Sen. Jim Tracy and Lou Ann Zelenik, a Murfreesboro businesswoman — by less than 600 votes.

Another similarly balled up race among Democrats for the same congressional seat boiled down to about 200 votes. Brett Carter, an Iraq War veteran from Gallatin, led with 9,429 votes, followed by Ben Leming at 9,207 votes and Henry Barry with 8,814, according to unofficial results.

However, none of the candidates have filed complaints with either Rutherford County nor the state’s election office over the missing early-voting day, officials say.

Furthermore, Zelenik told supporters Tuesday she would accept defeat if the votes showing her losing 24,373 to 24,089 remained unchanged by the time the results are certified.

“With county certification nearing completion, and assuming the vote margin remains the same, I congratulate Diane Black on her victory,” she wrote to her supporters.

Rutherford County elections officers failed to open poll places on July 17, the first Saturday of early voting.

The Tennessee Election Commission plans to question officials from Rutherford County — and Hawkins County, which also failed to open the polls that day — at its Sept. 21 meeting before deciding what, if any, reprimand it will issue.

“In our view, a violation of state election law is a big deal and counties are all supposed to be following the same law,” said Secretary of State spokesman Blake Fontenay.

But the commission cannot overturn election results, Fontenay said.

Rutherford County Election Administrator Hooper Penuel argues early voters still had plenty of time to weigh in, and that the three missing hours on the Saturday in question would have made little or no difference in the final tallies.

“We were open more hours and more locations than any other voting site in the (6th Congressional) district,” he said, adding that the county’s six polling places were open for more than 500 hours for early voting.

For her part, Black said she’s confident she is — and will remain — the GOP nominee, and she’s moving on.

“The state is moving forward and the county is moving forward to certify the election, as they are required by law,” Black said Monday. “We don’t anticipate there will be any changes from what was announced on (primary election day).”

Nevertheless, as Black faces off in the Nov. 2 general election against Carter to replace retiring Democrat U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, she and her husband may also still be fighting Zelenik in court.

Aegis Sciences Corp., a drug testing company run by Black’s husband, David Black, sued Zelenik and her campaign last month for airing what it claimed was an untrue commercial depicting Sen. Black handing off a jumbo check for $1 million to her husband accepting it on behalf of the corporation.

Ageis failed to convince the Davidson County judge in the case to order Zelenik to pull her ad. Black, a small business owner and registered nurse, released her own TV ad combating Zelenik’s.

Less than a week after the primary election, Zelenik filed a lawsuit of her own, calling the Aegis lawsuit “frivolous,” and demanding Black and her husband’s company pay Zelenik’s attorney costs and other damages. Further hearings on the case have not yet been scheduled.

Mark Todd Engler contributed to this report.

Press Releases

Black Responds to Zelenik’s Ad

Statement from Diane Black for Congress Campaign, July 14, 2010:

FACT CHECK: Lou Ann Zelenik’s Baseless Attacks

GALLATIN, TN – – Last week, an opponent to State Senator Diane Black, Lou Ann Zelenik, released a misleading advertisement that attacks Senator Black’s clear conservative record. This comes on top of a misleading statement Zelenik released as well. It is time to set the record straight and hold Lou Ann Zelenik and her baseless attacks accountable.

False Lou Ann Zelenik Statement – Taken Directly from Release:

“It is offensive to true pro-life and pro-marriage supporters that Sen. Black as republican caucus leader, refused to vote against or even lead an effort against honoring the Tennessee State Director of the ACLU. I have find it interesting that the ‘closet liberal’ Diane Black is touting her “conservative” credentials yet at the most important time when the people of Tennessee needed someone to fight back, Sen. Diane Black sat down.” (Lou Ann Zelenik Campaign, “Zelenik’s Campaign Blasts Sen. Black as Closet Liberal,” 7/8/10)

The Truth:

Tennessee Journal Refutes Zelenik’s Statement. “Lou Ann Zelenik’s campaign issued a statement Thursday blasting state Sen. Diane Black as a ‘closet liberal.’ The proof? Black ‘refused to vote against or even lead an effort against’ a memorializing resolution honoring ACLU executive director Hedy Weinberg. The Zelenik statement fails to mention that no vote was taken on the resolution. It was withdrawn.” (“Crunch Time Arrives In Republican Congressional Races,” The Tennessee Journal, 7/9/10)

VIDEO – Black Led The Fight To Withdraw Vote. SR 0238, the resolution alluded to by Zelenik, was brought up in the Tennessee General Assembly, and the Republican Caucus led by Senator Black refused to vote on the motion because of the political nature of the vote. The sponsor of the resolution tried several tactics to bring the resolution to a vote and put it on the legislative calendar, but Black fought back and made a motion to remove it. To view a video of Senator Black’s clear actions to remove the vote from consideration, please click on the following link:

(Click on the video clips icon to watch the video Senator Black bumps the Weinberg resolution from the consent calendar at time 1:45:20.)

Misleading Statements In Recent Zelenik Television Advertisement:

“Diane Black and Jim Tracy Increased Spending $5.1 Billion Over 3 Years.”

“Broke State Budget Spending Cap”

The Truth:

This Year’s Budget Actually DECREASED State Spending. The $29.9 billion state budget, represents an overall decrease of 0.3 percent from FY 2009-2010. In fact, the state budget has decreased in two of the past three fiscal years.

Diane Black Voted To Break The Copeland Cap In 2007 – For Savings Bill, Not Spending Bill. Diane Black has consistently opposed exceeding the Copeland Cap during her legislative career, but voted to exceed the budget cap, also known as the Copeland Cap, in 2007. The Copeland Cap is based on a section of the state Constitution, requiring the General Assembly to pass a separate bill, which acknowledges that proposed spending exceeds a defined level. Senator Black voted for this bill in 2007, because the amount over the cap went into savings, putting $250 million in the state’s savings account, also known as the Rainy Day Fund or more precisely as the Revenue Fluctuation Reserve Fund.

About The Copeland Cap. The Copeland Cap, found in Article II, Section 24 of the State Constitution, states: In no year shall the rate of growth of appropriations from state tax revenues exceed the estimated rate of growth of the state’s economy as determined by law. No appropriation in excess of this limitation shall be made unless the General Assembly shall, by law containing no other subject matter, set forth the dollar amount and the rate by which the limit will be exceeded.”

Rainy Day Fund Helped Middle Tennessee Flood Victims In 2010. In 2007, Diane Black voted to re-stock the state’s rainy day fund, reckoning that it would prevent tax increases in the future, control runaway spending over the long haul, and be accessible in time of need for the state. In fact, in the Spring, Tennessee was able to draw down $245m for flood relief out of the rainy day fund to help Tennesseans in need due to the Middle Tennessee flood. Thanks to Diane Black’s vote to increase the rainy day fund, Tennessee was able to quickly and immediately help those in need suffering from the flood.

Black Co-Sponsored And Voted For Legislation To Strengthen Copeland Cap. Legislation would require a two-thirds vote by the Senate and a two-thirds vote of the House in order to approve legislation that seeks an increase in appropriations in excess of the Copeland spending cap for any fiscal year, rather than the simple majority vote that is the current law. (SJR0682 by Beavers – S. JUD COMM.: Recommended for passage, Senators voting aye were: Beavers, Black, Bunch, Kelsey – 4)

Mike Morrow, Nashville Examiner: “It’s unclear how the Zelenik message will play since Black and Tracy are campaigning on deficit reduction and budget balancing, and both Black and Tracy have had hands in trying to make the Copeland cap more difficult to ignore.” (Mike Morrow, “Zelenik targets Black, Tracy,” Nashville Political Buzz Examiner, 7/7/10)

Diane Black is a fiscal conservative, who strongly believes in saving. She has taken on her own party’s leaders when they wanted to spend too much money, and she will do it again. She has consistently opposed lifting the cap on state spending, and will continue to fight against reckless government spending.

Featured News Transparency and Elections

Multiple Fronts in Congressional Primary Title Fight for ‘Most Conservative’

Two state senators running for Congress and campaigning against federal spending are reacting with surprise and fact-checking to claims by an opponent who says they are guilty of “cheap talk” and “expensive votes” in the Legislature.

Meanwhile, their 6th District congressional race involves a hot-button issue over a planned mosque in Murfreesboro that has crept into the campaign with various twists.

State Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, issued a detailed press release Wednesday in response to television advertising claims by former Rutherford County Republican Party chairman Lou Ann Zelenik that hits Black and state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, on spending. The three are considered the top contenders in a crowded field in the Republican primary to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon.

Zelenik has an ad running that says, “Diane Black and Jim Tracy Increased Spending $5.1 Billion Over 3 Years” and that the two lawmakers broke the state budget spending cap.

The ad does not define the spending cap, but the Zelenik campaign has said the reference is to the “Copeland Cap,” a constitutional provision that says the General Assembly may not spend more than Tennessee’s economy grows. The Copeland Cap was enacted in 1978 and is so named for the legislator at the time, Rep. David Copeland, who led the cause.

The Copleland Cap is easily broken in the budget process, however, since it takes only a majority vote to break the cap. The Legislature needs only to muster the same number of votes that approved the budget in order to break the cap.

Efforts have been made in recent years to raise the threshold for breaking the cap from a simple majority vote to a two-thirds majority. Black and Tracy, in fact, have been involved in those efforts. But the effort has failed.

“I voted against breaking the Copeland Cap this year and did not vote for the budget, so I’m not sure exactly what she’s talking about,” Tracy said. “I guess it was the year we put money in the Rainy Day Fund, which broke the Copeland Cap, which I think was the right thing to do.

“We had some money there. We put money in our Rainy Day Fund. I think it may be one of the reasons why the state is in as good a shape as we are.”

Black’s release Wednesday said statements in the Zelenik ad are misleading, saying this year the budget actually decreased by 0.3 percent and that the budget has decreased in two of the last three fiscal years. The release also said Black has consistently opposed breaking the Copeland Cap in her career but acknowledges she broke the cap in 2007 because the money went into the Rainy Day Fund.

The Senate passed this year’s budget bill 30-3. Tracy voted against it with Sen. Dewayne Bunch, R-Cleveland, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet. Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, voted present and not voting. The House passed the budget 94-0.

The Senate approved the measure breaking the Copeland Cap 28-4-1, with the no votes including Tracy and Black. The House approved breaking the cap 82-10.

Black’s statement says Black is a “fiscal conservative, who strongly believes in saving.”

Black’s campaign release Wednesday also took exception to a recent Zelenik campaign statement saying Black is a “closet liberal.”

Zelenik’s statement said Black refused to vote against or lead an effort against honoring Hedy Weinberg (pdf), the Tennessee director of the American Civil Liberties Union, although Zelenik’s statement did not refer to Weinberg by name.

The Black campaign countered that the resolution honoring Weinberg was brought up but that Black refused to vote on the motion because of its political nature, offering a link to video of the Senate proceedings to prove its point. The campaign statement noted that the precise time of the parliamentary move to stop consideration of the measure came at 1:45:20 mark in the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Zelenik has taken issue with a mosque being built in Murfreesboro, which she decries as an “Islamic training center.” The 52,000-square foot facility was approved by the local planning commission, but it has led to a backlash, then a backlash to the backlash.

Demonstrations were held Wednesday in Murfreesboro both by opponents of the mosque and a group defending it on grounds of religious freedom, and the mosque has become an issue in the 6th District congressional campaign. Approval of the mosque appears to fall under the protection of a state law known as the Religious Freedom Act, which included Tracy among its co-sponsors. Both Tracy and Black voted for it.

The issue was ratched up this week when Zelenik’s campaign claimed in a press release it has information that one of the board members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Mossad Rowash, has supported the terrorist group Hamas. On Monday, the Islamic center posted on its Web site that it was made aware of allegations against Rowash and that he was being suspended pending further investigation. The center spelled the name “Rawash” on first reference then “Rowash.”

Zelenik was quick to denounce the Islamic center in June, saying in a campaign statement that the center is not part of a religious movement but a political movement. Ben Leming, a candidate in the Democratic primary, defended the mosque, accusing Zelenik of intolerance and complimented Tracy and Black for their support of the religious freedom law.

Yet another candidate in the Democratic primary, George Erdel, who refers to himself as a “tea party Democrat” has been an active opponent of the mosque and helped organize a recent meeting in Rutherford County for a lecture on Sharia law in the Islamic culture.

News Transparency and Elections

Strong State Senate Flavor in 6th Dist. U.S. House Race

Sen. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, and Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, sit just a few feet apart on the floor of the state Senate, so it might seem a bit awkward for them to do state business as they run against each other for Congress in the 6th District.

But there is no such awkwardness, no friction, they say.

The formalities of the Senate floor erase any spirit of competition other than the normal debate of the General Assembly, not that the two Republicans have much to disagree about anyway. While Black and Tracy are far from the only ones seeking to replace Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon, who is retiring from the seat, the circumstance does give the 6th District race a strong flavor of state government in the field.

When asked about their proximity on the Senate floor, Tracy immediately said, “It has no effect. If you remember, I refereed basketball for 25 years, so I’m used to just concentrating on what I need to do. We go in there to do a job, and that’s how I look at it.”

Black concurs.

“It’s not awkward for me,” she said. “It’s just the way we do things.”

The 6th District race has gotten national attention, foremost because of the exit of Gordon, who was first elected to the seat in 1984. The district itself has changed politically. It has seen many decades of Democratic dominance, but that has changed dramatically.

The change has been so pronounced there is now a general assumption that the 6th District will go to the Republican primary winner, and it has left many political observers to conclude that Gordon’s departure has as much to do with the change in his district as with the change in his personal ambitions. Democrats have struggled to find a strong candidate for the race.

The seat has been held in the past by the likes of James K. Polk and Al Gore Jr. But it has been part of a massive shift in political persuasion in recent years, moving from the conservative Blue Dog Democrat mold and now on to what is being viewed as an almost certain Republican pickup. The race gained notice the moment Gordon made his announcement.

Black and Tracy look like natural fits for the district. But that in no way suggests either one is sure to win. Lou Ann Zelenik, who built a successful business and is a former head of the Rutherford County Republican Party, is also seen as a serious contender for the seat. Other candidates include businessman Kerry Roberts, real estate agent Gary Mann and retired major general Dave Evans.

“I have looked at this seat for a number of years,” said Black, who is chair of the Senate Republican Caucus. “As a matter of fact, I had a meeting several years ago in Washington with some people who considered me a potentially good candidate.

“I looked at the seat several times, and I just didn’t think the timing was right. But we do feel now the timing is right.”

Neither is likely to underestimate Zelenik, who has the financial wherewithal to top the field and has already hit the radio airwaves. Zelenik said it is an advantage not to be in public office right now, given voter disgruntlement with government.

Black was asked if she would have run against Gordon had he decided to run for re-election.

“I don’t know I can say for sure about that decision,” Black said. “You wait until you see what is happening with the whole mood in the country, and obviously we’re moving in a direction where the country is very upset. As a candidate you always look at timing.”

Tracy and Black have similar views about what’s happening in Washington and certainly hear similar issues from the people they would represent. The health care debate is the most prominent example.

“I’ve never seen people this upset,” Tracy said. “I’ve had many phone calls from people wanting to know what to do. ‘Do I buy insurance? Do I not buy insurance?’ It has been from small businesses and individuals.”

The health care issue is such a dominant topic it’s still being debated, even as the bill has been passed and signed by the president.

“I don’t think health care is fixed,” Black said. “There are a lot of needed reforms.”

Tracy says he feels well-suited for the district. His background includes education, including a seat on the Senate Education Committee, and agriculture. Both are important issues in the district.

Black says she’s ready to fight “reckless spending” in Washington.

“You can count on me,” she says, “unlike Bart Gordon, who went there saying one thing and did another.”

Tracy tells voters he is “pro-life, pro-gun, pro-small business and a solid conservative.”

He makes a basketball analogy.

“I’m an old basketball official, and I’m going to call a technical on Nancy Pelosi and throw her out of the speakership,” he said.