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Press Releases

Dems Claim Victory in Defeat of Campaign Finance Bill

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; April 18, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Democrats were joined by 13 Republicans and one Independent Republican in voting against legislation by House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada to change corporate contribution laws. The bill failed 48-41 after nearly an hour of debate.

“The people of Tennessee don’t want this because they know that money corrupts,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. During the debate on the legislation, Chairman Turner implored his Republican colleagues to side with the people and vote against the bill.

HB643 would have nearly tripled the amount of money political parties and caucuses could give to state candidates. It also removed the requirement that corporations register as PACs. Additionally, the bill would have allowed insurance companies to contribute to political candidates.

Rep. JoAnne Favors (D-Chattanooga) warned that allowing insurance companies to give to candidates during our current health care debate would “give the appearance of being unethical.”

Having failed to receive a majority, the bill now moves back to the Calendar and Rules Committee.
Roll call of the vote available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/136545701/Roll-Call-on-HB643-by-Casada

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Featured News Transparency and Elections

Speaker Harwell: House GOP-Drawn Legislative Districts ‘Less Politically Gerrymandered’

Republicans publicly unveiled their new legislative maps for the first time Wednesday, and to Democrats’ surprise, it wasn’t as bad as they expected.

That’s not to say they didn’t find aspects to complain about, though.

The House proposal pits 12 mostly Democratic incumbents against each other in six districts and pencils in another half-dozen empty districts prime for open legislative races.

Meanwhile the Senate map lumps the Democratic leader in the same district as an up-and-coming Republican and forces two other GOP members into a face off.

“We feel very good about a plan that is fair and certainly less politically gerrymandered than the way the districts are currently drawn,” Speaker Beth Harwell told reporters after an ad hoc committee approved the new maps Wednesday. “We’ve gone out of our way to be as fair as possible. I can’t control the demographics of this state.”

The House hopes to approve final redistricting plans next week, although Democrats say it will take them the better part of a month to run the numbers and understand what the new districts look like in practical political terms.

“I’m not real fond of it,” said Rep. Mike Turner, the Democratic Caucus Chairman from Old Hickory. “There are some districts I don’t like. There are some districts they’ve draw that actually, I think, give us a good opportunity to win. We’ve got to balance those out.”

Democrats say they’re concerned that the proposal would ultimately reduce the number of African American lawmakers as the new map forces four members into contested races against each other and another minority lawmaker into the same district as a fellow Democrat.

Former Speaker Kent Williams says the GOP’s redistricting plan may be “politically motivated,” but not as much as Democratic plans were in past.

House lawmakers approved the maps in an ad hoc redistricting committee and a State and Local Government subcommittee hearing with plans to take the maps up again next week when the Legislature returns to officially begin its 2012 legislative session.

Senate lawmakers plan to publicly review their proposed maps Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office. Republicans posted their maps online shortly after the House hearings.

“This is the first time that our members have seen any official redistricting maps, and the first opportunity to view this specific map,” said Jackson Democrat Lowe Finney, the Senate minority caucus chairman. “We are committed to an open and public process as this issue greets us at the beginning of a new legislative session.”

Under the House plan, six districts would be left without sitting representatives. They include the proposed:

  • District 29 in Hamilton County
  • District 37 in Rutherford County
  • District 59 in Davidson County
  • District 65 in Wilson County
  • District 89 in Knox County
  • District 92 in Marshall and parts of Lincoln, Franklin and Marion Counties.
The House plan also draws six districts with two incumbents in each. They include:
  • District 28 in Hamilton County; Chattanooga Democratic Reps. Tommie Brown, Joanne Favors
  • District 31 in Sequatchie, Blodsoe, Rhea and part of Roane Counties; Reps. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, and Bill Harmon, D-Dunlap
  • District 52 in Davidson County; Nashville Democratic Reps. Sherry Jones and Mike Stewart
  • District 71 in Hardin, Wayne and part of Lawrence and Giles Counties; Reps. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect and Vance Dennis, R-Savannah
  • District 86 in Shelby County; Memphis Democratic Reps. Barbara Cooper and G.A. Hardaway.
  • District 98 in Shelby County; Memphis Democratic Reps. Jeanne Richardson and Antonio Parkinson

In the Senate, the new districts would pin four lawmakers into two districts:

  • District 28 in Shelby County; Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis.
  • District 25 in Cheatham, Dickson, Robertson, Humphreys, Lewis, Perr Counties; Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield and Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson.
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News Transparency and Elections

Bipartisan Ethics Commission Could Hit Minor, Independent Candidates with Major Fines

Eight candidates for state elected offices will be assessed fines from $50 up to $10,000 Tuesday for failing to report their political conflicts of interest on time.

Many of the reported late filers are little-known candidates running for slots in the state Senate or the House of Representatives, although two are independents running for governor and one is in a tight race fighting over an important swing district.

Among the late filers is Keith Clotfelter, a Democrat looking to snag a vulnerable Republican-held seat in the House of Representatives, District 36. GOP Incumbent Chad Faulkner lost in the Aug. 5 primary.

“I think the people have a lot more issues to worry about than that right there,” said Clotfelter, a contractor who has been involved with manufactured housing sales. He owes the state $75 for submitting his conflict of interest statement to the state Election Commission three days late.

He said a worker on his staff mistakenly filed the information after the state’s deadline, but said the campaign would pay the fine soon.

His race will likely be targeted by Democrats and Republicans alike as both parties try to gain seats in the House. Republicans now have a 50-48 advantage in the chamber, with a lone Independent.

Clotfelter said he doesn’t expect his Republican counterpart, Dennis Powers, to make much of an issue out of late paperwork, adding that voters probably don’t care.

“It’s not as big a concern to them,” he said. “It’s a mistake we made and it’s something we’ll rectify.”

Other candidates could face much harsher fines, according to the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Executive Director Drew Rawlins.

“It’s up to the commission to determine the amount of the actually civil penalty,” said Rawlins.

Individuals are fined $25 for each day the conflict of interest statement is late, he added, however the board may reduce the fines as they see fit.

Candidates who fail to file that information with the state after 30 days can be assessed up to a $10,000 penalty, he said. However, the board has full discretion to set the fine at a lower amount or dismiss the charges.

Although the Ethics Commission reviews compliance for all political candidates regardless of party, the six-member body does not include Independents.

The commission is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans. The governor, House speaker and lieutenant governor each appoint a member from each party to serve a four-year term which includes hearing and determining ethics violations and fines.

Jay Kalbes, an Independent running for the solid Republican 45th district owes Tennessee as much as $10,000 for submitting his paperwork 56 days late. He is running against Rep. Debra Maggart and Democrat Charles Ihrig in the November election. All three candidates are from Hendersonville.

Priscilla G. Steele and Mitzi Turnage both lost their primary elections. Steele, who wanted to run as a Republican against now-Independent House Speaker Kent Williams in upper East Tennessee, owes up to $10,000 for revealing her conflicts of interest 32 days late.

Turnage lost to Democratic Rep. Joe Towns of Memphis in the primary election but now could owe up to $10,000 for turning in her documents 58 days late.

Other political candidates facing possible fines from the state election commission include Thomas Ken Owens, a Democrat who faces off against sitting Republican state Sen. Rusty Crowe of Johnson City. He owes the state $50 for submitting his paperwork two days late.

Independent gubernatorial candidates Boyce McCall, Sr., and Howard Switzer both owe the state $50 for filing their conflict of interest paperwork day days late.

The state Attorney General’s office would collect on any outstanding or unpaid penalties.

The board will meet for the third time this year on Tuesday and decide whether to reduce fines for any of the candidates. The six-member body will also assess similar penalties for 51 local candidates, five office holders, one lobbyist and seven employers of lobbyists.

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Featured News Transparency and Elections

Party Officials Could Decide Henry-Yarbro Race

The Tennessee Democratic Party has yet to decide whether it will allow a recount in a state Senate race that could possibly dethrone a long-time legislative veteran.

The unofficial vote totals in the race between Sen. Douglas Henry and Jeff Yarbro have changed four times since the Aug. 5 primary election. The results always leave a slim margin between the two Nashville Democrats, generally indicating Henry is the winner.

But ultimately in Tennessee, the political parties have the final say on who continues on to the general election in November — despite the vote totals.

State law gives political parties the authority to change the primary election winner if  one of the candidates contests the results.

“The state primary board shall hear and determine the contest and make the disposition of the contest which justice and fairness require, including setting aside the election if necessary,” according to state code.

Changing the primary election winner is rare, according to Keith Talley, spokesman for the Tennessee Democratic Party. But it happened two years ago when the party’s executive committee stripped away Clarksville state Sen. Rosalind Kurita’s 19-vote lead and gave the win to her challenger, Tim Barnes.

The Adams Democrat, who currently sits in the Senate, contested the election by alleging Republicans were encouraged to vote for Kurita in the race.

Holding a primary election that year cost $4.5 million — but the state picked up the tab because it was a presidential election year.

The Secretary of State’s office predicts the cost will be the same this year — although it is paid by local municipalities during gubernatorial election cycles. Conducting a primary, where voters choose who they want to run in the general election, could cost about $200,000 in taxpayer dollars in Davidson County alone.

Whether all the votes are recounted or kept intact in the 21st state Senate district — covering Nashville’s west and south sides — is yet to be determined.

The race between Henry and Yarbro narrowed to 11 from 13 votes Monday after Davidson County election officials discovered a voting machine that had never been counted.

Yarbro, a 33-year-old lawyer, has asked for a speedy recount from Davidson County. Local election commission chairman Lynn Greer said no, he told TNReport, saying it sets a bad precedent.

Yarbro’s attorney said in a statement shortly after the election that he believes some absentee votes were miscounted.

“At this point, we have a question of math, not politics,” read the message from attorney Wally Dietz.

As of Monday, 5,731 ballots were cast for Henry and 5,720 were recorded for Yarbro — leaving an unofficial 11-vote difference, according to Ray Barrett, Davidson County election administrator.

Yarbro officially asked the Democratic Party’s Executive Committee for a recount Tuesday.

“Obviously, we’re troubled by the changing tallies and the resulting uncertainty. The need for a recount could not be clearer,” he said in a press release.

Before Democrats can act, the Davidson County Election Commission must first certify the election results, which is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 23.

Once the votes are certified by the county, the state Democratic Party can ratify the results, authorize a recount or hear arguments contesting the race.

Yarbro has indicated he’s interested in a recount, but has not tipped his hand as to whether he’ll contest the race itself. Repeated calls to his campaign headquarters and his lawyer were not returned Monday.

Democratic Party officials say they can’t remember the last time they OK’d a recount.

If the Democratic Executive Committee’s 65 members allow Yarbro a recount, Davidson County election officials will have to check roughly 200 absentee ballots by hand and re-tally the vote totals from election day, according to Barrett.

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Press Releases

Wamp: Haslam’s Family, Big-Money Donors Pushed for State Income Tax

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; Aug. 3, 2010:

Tennessee Conservative Union Joins in Sounding the Alarm

NASHVILLE – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for governor, sounded the alarm again today on the likelihood that Bill Haslam would ultimately call for a new state income tax if elected, noting that those who led the last push for the income tax now serve on Haslam’s leadership team and have contributed tens-of-thousands of dollars to his campaign for governor.

In 1999, Bill Haslam’s father, James Haslam II, was joined by Clayton McWhorter of Nashville and Allen Morgan of Memphis in creating and leading Citizens for Fair Taxes, a group that raised and spent nearly $2 million in an attempt to ram through the Sundquist–Naifeh state income tax.

Now Allen Morgan and McWhorter’s son, Stuart McWhorter, serve on Bill Haslam’s statewide leadership and finance committees, and along with the Haslams recruited their family members, co-workers and employees to contribute tens-of-thousands of dollars to Haslam’s campaign for governor.??Just last week Haslam proudly announced that he has the support of state Rep. Steve McDaniel, the lone remaining Republican in the state House of Representatives who co-sponsored and vote for the legislation to enact a state income tax in Tennessee.

In fact, McDaniel, Morgan, McWhorter and Big Jim Haslam were so convinced that a state income tax was the only answer to the state’s budget deficit in 1999 that Mr. Haslam wrote in a piece published by the Knoxville News Sentinel: “Simply put…we must have more revenues…”

Wamp said that with the state of Tennessee facing a $1 billion shortfall early next year, the influence of Bill Haslam’s core campaign team and his family’s support for a state income tax means Haslam cannot be trusted when he says he won’t push for a new state income tax to cover the deficit because he did the same thing in Knoxville when he instituted the largest property tax increase in history to pay for only a $10 million budget shortfall.

“Past performance and the advice and counsel of those around you are good predictors of future behavior, and unfortunately that means the prospects for a state income tax increase dramatically if Bill Haslam’s allowed to buy this election on Thursday,” Zach Wamp said.

“Haslam’s friends and family tried real hard to fool us once before on the state income tax, but we should not let them all do it again.”

The Tennessee Conservative Union weighed in on this issue yesterday, sounding the alarm about what Bill Haslam could mean for Tennessee: “Bill Haslam will be surrounded by many of those who were Sundquist foot soldiers in the income tax battle. It is worrisome to say the least.”

“Actions speak louder than their words, and Bill Haslam puts us one step closer to a state income tax in Tennessee,” Wamp said. “If working families and small business owners want an income tax, then Bill Haslam is their guy. But if they don’t, then I hope they will vote for Zach Wamp on Thursday.”

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Featured News

Few Punished Under Existing TN Law Targeting Employers of Illegal Immigrants

Many politicians across the state are making the case for an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration here in Tennessee.

But there’s also general agreement that a law the Legislature already overwhelmingly approved to punish businesses that hire undocumented workers is being underutilized.

Just days after the Obama administration announced it would sue Arizona over its controversial new state-level illegal-immigration enforcement law, a leading Tennessee Democrat filed a complaint with state labor officials alleging that managers of a high-profile, government-subsidized Nashville construction project were employing illegal aliens.

Officials are still reviewing Rep. Mike Turner’s allegation to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a full investigation, said Department of Labor spokesman Jeff Hentschel. But if the past is any indication, the chances the Old Hickory lawmaker’s complaint will result in any action against the employer appear slim.

The Labor Standards Division received 2,111 workplace complaints in Tennessee between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010, mostly for child labor and wage law violations.

But only two of the total number of complaints the department received addressed businesses employing illegal aliens, said Hentschel.

Since the state’s Illegal Alien Employment Act took effect on Jan. 1, 2008, the department has received a total of 28 complaints alleging companies employed illegal immigrants.

Fifteen of those allegations were pursued. In only two complaints since the law took effect 31 months ago has the department sought to punish a company for employing illegal immigrants. In one case, an employer quickly pleaded guilty and fired suspected illegal immigrants before the state could suspend the company’s business licenses. A second company is currently awaiting disciplinary action.

Officials at the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development claim they have only limited tools and restricted legal authority to sniff out workers who are in the country illegally, or to prove a case against an employer who hires them.

Turner, who voted against a resolution declaring support for Arizona’s immigration law during the last legislative session, said in his complaint he had obtained inside information that the construction company was employing illegal aliens.

“While I am not employed at the job site and do not have the ability to personally verify these allegations, I know the persons who have witnessed the employment of illegal aliens at the Convention Center job site and know that they are credible individuals,” the Tennessee House Democratic caucus chairman said in his complaint filed July 15.

Up until July 2008, the labor department essentially had nothing to do with immigration law enforcement.

Under the Illegal Alien Employment Act in Tennessee — approved with no opposition on June 7, 2007 in the House, and with only Nashville Democrat Douglas Henry voting “No” June 12, 2007 in the Senate — the department can take enforcement action against Tennessee businesses.

However, formal complaints against employers, or requests for investigations, must be filed only by designated government employees or elected officials.

The result is the department’s enforcement of the spirit of the law is seriously lacking, argues Murfreesboro Republican Bill Ketron, a primary sponsor of the act, which he said was patterned after similar bills in other states trying to “stop the flow” of money and jobs to illegal immigrants.

Sen. Ketron suggests labor department bureaucrats take some investigative initiative, “multitask” and dig deeper to find immigrant workers when conducting other routine inspections, instead of waiting for complaints to land on their desks.

“How hard is it before you leave to say, ‘Can I see your documentation on all your employees?’” asked Ketron, who, along with Republican Reps. Joe Carr and Tony Shipley, is in Arizona to deliver the Tennessee General Assembly’s vote of confidence for the state in its legal confrontation with the federal government.

“That’s the frustrating part about bureaucracy in state government,” he added.

Indeed, many illegal immigrants working in Tennessee go undetected, and those who employ them unpunished, acknowledge labor officers. A company that provides the state with information indicating employees filled out all the required I-9 employment forms will face no punishment if they can reasonably show they didn’t know illegal aliens were working on the job, said Dan Bailey, the Department of Labor’s general counsel.

Bailey said part of the problem is that the department lacks access to federal immigration records, without which state officials are unable to connect the dots and determine who is or is not in the country legally.

The department can only check to make sure forms were completed correctly for every worker, he said — after that, the business is in the clear.

“We cannot do anything until a complaint is filed,” said Bailey.“It is a complaint-driven system. And then when we get a complaint, we cannot respond to profiling issues.”

“We can’t remove (illegal immigrants). We can’t fine them. We can’t do anything.  But if we know there’s an undocumented worker, we can report it to ICE,” he said, referring to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, which is chiefly responsible for immigration laws.

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Press Releases

Wamp: Don’t Trust Haslam on State Income Tax

Press Release from Zach Wamp for Governor; July 28, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Zach Wamp, Republican candidate for governor, again questioned today whether Mayor Bill Haslam would ultimately institute a state income tax if elected governor to deal with the state’s looming budget deficit. Wamp based his concern on Haslam’s record of pushing through the largest property tax increase in Knoxville’s history and the Haslam family’s political and financial support for a new state income tax in Tennessee just a few years ago.

An Associated Press article out today noted the Haslam family’s active role in promoting a state income tax in Tennessee: “Haslam’s father, Pilot Corp. founder Jim Haslam, was a board member of Citizens for Fair Taxes, a group formed in 1999. The group gathered $1.8 million and aired a television advertisement noting that the last time Tennessee’s tax code was overhauled in 1923, the Ford Model T was still on the road. ‘The budget crisis is real,’ the ad said. ‘It’s time to fix it.’”

Nationally syndicated talk show host and finance expert Dave Ramsey also expressed concern today about Bill Haslam’s record of raising taxes and the Haslam family’s push for a state income tax, telling Knoxville’s WNOX radio this morning: “Bill seems to be a little bit more moderate on that stuff. If I remember correctly, I was in the middle of that fight, the Haslam family…came out and said the income tax we needed it. And that scares me because I really don’t want an income tax in Tennessee.”

Such questions have been raised because Bill Haslam has acknowledged the state faces a looming billion-dollar budget deficit. When faced with only a $10 million budget shortfall in Knoxville in 2003, Mayor Haslam immediately raised the property tax rate on working families from $2.70 per $100 of assessed value to $3.05, demonstrating that his first inclination was to raise taxes rather than cut spending when faced with a deficit.

With the state of Tennessee facing a $1 billion shortfall early next year – a deficit 100 times larger than what he faced in Knoxville – Mayor Haslam’s record of raising taxes and his family’s history of political and financial support for a state income tax suggests Haslam could ultimately push for a new state income tax rather than work to right-size state government and reduce overall spending – despite his claims to the contrary.

“The record is clear. Mayor Haslam raised taxes before he cut spending in Knoxville,” said Zach Wamp. “Mayor Haslam’s history and his family’s support for a state income tax should be a huge concern for every working family and small business owner across our state. Because past actions speak much louder than weak campaign promises, I just don’t think Mayor Haslam can be trusted on this issue.”

Wamp noted that Haslam has spent millions of dollars throughout this race disguising his record and pretending to be something he’s not, including claims that he’s against a state income tax.

“One of my biggest fears about Bill Haslam, one that would do more damage than anything else to Tennessee families and the small business community, is the very real chance that he will ultimately support a state income tax when faced with the real-life pressure next year of balancing Tennessee’s budget,” said Wamp. “And nothing could be worse for the future of our state and job creation in our state than Bill Haslam trying to force a new state income tax on us.”

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Press Releases

Immigration Group Founder Endorses Wamp

Press Release from the Minuteman Project; July 26, 2010:

Only Candidate with Proven Record on Ending Illegal Immigration, Enforcing Border Security

Aliso Viejo, CA – Minuteman Project Founder and President Jim Gilchrist, the nation’s leading grassroots activist on the issue of immigration reform and border security, announced today that he is endorsing Congressman Zach Wamp in his bid for Governor of Tennessee.  Gilchrist cited Wamp’s strong record on securing our borders, denying illegals any form of amnesty, and cracking down on taxpayer funded benefits that attract illegals to the United States.  Polls show that immigration reform and border security remains one of the top issues facing voters of the state of Tennessee in the upcoming August 5 Republican Primary.

Gilchrist stated, “Instead of politicians who like to talk about illegal immigration without actually having a record of acting to end this problem, America needs real leaders like Zach Wamp to implement Arizona style laws in states like Tennessee.   With his strong track record of calling for the Federal Government to enforce our laws and secure our borders, Zach Wamp is the only candidate who truly has a committed stand on the issues of immigration reform and border security.  We need Zach Wamp as Governor of Tennessee to end the chaos of illegal immigration.”

Regarding the August 5 Republican Primary Gilchrist said, “For too long law abiding Americans have grown tired of watching the political establishment lack the will to enforce our nation’s laws when it comes to border security and immigration policy.  For over 15 years Zach Wamp has earned the strongest record of any member of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation on this issue and has proven he will fight that same status quo establishment.  Tennessee needs someone in Nashville that will fight on behalf of taxpayers to end the influx of illegal aliens in America and that is why I wholeheartedly endorse Zach Wamp for Governor of Tennessee.”

Jim Gilchrist founded the multi-ethnic Minuteman Project on Oct. 1, 2004, after years of frustrated efforts trying to get a neglectful U.S. government to simply enforce existing immigration laws.  Called “the world’s largest neighborhood watch”, their volunteer members aid efforts of the US Border Patrol by watching for illegal activity along the US-Mexican border.

Jim Gilchrist is the founder and President of the Minuteman Project, a multi-ethnic grassroots organization dedicated to border security and immigration reform.  For more information see www.MinutemanProject.com.

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Featured Liberty and Justice News Transparency and Elections

Lt. Guv: TN AG Should Back AZ

Ron Ramsey is making another run at convincing the Tennessee attorney general to defend a state-level legislative prerogative against interference by the federal government.

During the Tennessee General Assembly’s regular session earlier this year, Ramsey tried unsuccessfully to persuade state Attorney General Robert Cooper to join a number of other states in challenging elements of the federal health-care overhaul that Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration pushed through last winter.

On Friday, Ramsey — a Blountville Republican seeking to become the GOP’s pick next month to run against Democrat Mike McWherter in the November general election — urged Cooper to file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Arizona’s new crackdown on illegal-immigrants, scheduled to take effect July 29.

Tennessee lawmakers approved two immigration-related bills earlier this year. One was a joint resolution in the House of Representatives congratulating Arizona for passing the new illegal immigration law. The other allows local law enforcement to verify a suspect or inmate’s citizenship status and report illegal aliens to the federal government.

The U.S. Justice Department announced a few weeks ago that it will challenge the Arizona law, which allows state and local police to check for citizenship status while enforcing other laws — including minor traffic violations — if there is a reasonable suspicion that an individual is illegally in the country.

Justice department lawyers say the federal government, not the states, is solely responsible for enforcing the country’s immigration policies.  A U.S. attorney told a federal judge during a hearing on the matter in Phoenix Thursday that “regulation of immigration is unquestionably, exclusively, a federal power.”

Ramsey and other Tennessee politicians who say they support Arizona’s efforts argue that indeed it is the federal government’s job to control movement of foreigners into the United States. But the feds are failing to live up to that responsibility, they say, and therefore the states have been put in the position of having to take enforcement matters into their own hands.

“This is just another symptom of the disease that the federal government, not only in this case, is paying no attention to the citizens but its actually suing the citizens of the United States, suing Arizona for simply enforcing the law,” Ramsey told reporters during a press conference Friday morning.

Illegal immigration is as important to Tennessee as it is to Arizona, Ramsey added. Tennessee highways act as a corridor for those immigrants to pass through and opens the state up to potential drug trafficking, said the lieutenant governor.

Nine other states have filed amicus briefs weighing in on the case.

“We rarely, if ever, use resources to participate in a trail court proceeding in another state,” Cooper wrote in an emailed statement. “Like most other Attorneys General, we are watching the case closely without actively participating, and we expect that the trial court in this matter will provide valuable legal analysis and insight.”

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Press Releases

Haslam Calls Out Wamp, Ramsey for False Attacks

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor; July 22, 2010:

New Ad Sets the Record Straight on His, Opponent’s Records

NASHVILLE – Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has run his campaign focused on the issues of job creation, education and conservative budget management, but now he is setting the record straight after recent false attack ads by his fading and desperate opponents.

Haslam has maintained that while he would focus on the critical issues facing Tennessee and its citizens, he reserved the right to defend his record, knowing the Washington Congressman and State Senator would seek to muddy the waters on his record and theirs because of their trailing and failing campaigns.

Haslam’s new ad, “Enough is Enough”, does just that, focusing on the Congressman’s continuous and erroneous allegations and untruths.

Haslam has also in recent days responded to questions on the trail posed by the State Senator’s recent attack ad which makes intentionally false statements about Haslam. Knoxville has the lowest property tax rates in more than 50 years. Haslam never led an anti-gun group, and he never supported an Al Gore run. In 1988, he gave a fellow Tennessean $1,000 to retire some campaign debt after his candidacy ended.

As for his opponents supporting Democrats, the Congressman could be seen and heard as recently as 2004 bragging about his support for Jimmy Carter on the House floor and just this year refused to return a donation from one of the Congressional Democrats most responsible for the passage of ObamaCare. Mr. Ramsey supported legislation with a $40,000 price tag to Tennessee taxpayers that honored Al Gore’s vice presidency, but he didn’t support a Republican for Speaker until he voted for himself.

“I’ve focused my campaign over the last 18 months on the very serious issues facing Tennessee and its next governor,” Haslam said. “My opponents, Congressman Wamp and State Senator Ramsey, have focused their efforts on misleading the public about my record and theirs.”

“Enough is enough, and I and my campaign will set the record straight with facts because this election is too important for voters to be purposefully misled by career politicians,” Haslam added.

“For Bill Haslam’s opponents, desperate times call for desperate measures, and the State Senator and Washington Congressman seem content with trivializing the race with unfounded and personal attacks, which smack of desperate and failing campaigns forced to throw Hail Marys,” said David Smith, Campaign Spokesperson.

“They have been wrong all along in their failed charges, and it’s time someone called them on it,” Smith said. “Bill Haslam is running a campaign focused on how he would work to move the state forward, but his opponents want to take the Republican Party backwards to the days of dirty politics that put Democrats in power.”

“Tennessee faces too many challenges and has too many unique opportunities for the governor’s race to be unraveled by mudslinging and personal attacks, and I won’t stand idly by as my record is dragged through the mud by politicians who have contributed to our current predicament,” Haslam said.

Mayor Haslam is the two-term Republican Mayor of Knoxville, reelected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote. A hardworking, conservative public servant, Haslam led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, reducing the number of city employees to the lowest amount in 15 years and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees.

For more information on Bill Haslam, please visit www.BillHaslam.com.