News Transparency and Elections

McWherter: More Info Needed on Haslam’s ‘Questionable Web of Business Dealings’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter is suggesting his Republican opponent’s family truck-stop company has ties to a business that deals with Iran.

McWherter stopped short of accusing Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam of wrongdoing, but said voters need answers.

Haslam and his family own Pilot Oil Corp., a privately owned company that operates truck stops throughout the country. The corporation is the parent company of Pilot Travel Centers, which is partially owned by CVC Capital Partners, a global private equity and investment firm that also does business with Evonik Industries AG.

Evonik works with specialty chemicals, power generation and real estate in several countries, including Iran, which currently has an adverse relationship with the United States, according to McWherter who provided reporters with 14-pages worth of press releases, news articles, investor relations summaries and a printout of Evonik’s Wikipedia page.

The allegations represent the freshest attempt by McWherter to use Haslam’s family business against him, a tactic used by Republicans in the primary election.

“The bottom line here is Bill Haslam does not want to reveal these connections,” McWherter told reporters at the Tennessee Democratic Party Headquarters in downtown Nashville. “And he’s hiding something, and nobody knows what it is. But before you’re going to trust him with the highest office here in Tennessee, I think the voters have a right to know.”

He alleges that 50 cents of each dollar spent at Pilot Oil is funneled to CVC Capitol Partners, a private equity and investment company, however, McWherter did not reveal where he got his information from.

Haslam’s campaign says the argument is “silly and insulting.”

“Mike’s desperate attack failed once so he’s back to try it again,” said David Smith, a campaign spokesman.

Press Releases

Haslam Touts Poll Showing Big Lead

Press Release from Haslam for Governor Campaign, Aug 10, 2010:

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam receives his highest level of support so far following his Republican primary victory last Thursday in the race for governor of Tennessee.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Volunteer State shows Haslam earning 56% support. Democrat Mike McWherter, a businessman and son of a former governor, picks up 31%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and 10% are undecided.

Haslam won 48% of the vote in last week’s GOP primary to defeat Congressman Zach Wamp and Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey.

In June, Haslam was the only Republican of the three to reach 50% support against McWherter, who was unchallenged for the democratic nomination. In the first survey of the race back in March, Haslam held a 45% to 27% edge over McWherter.

Full Analysis at