Press Releases

TNDP Chair Slams ‘Shakedown Bill’ Haslam on GOP Fundraiser

Press Release from the Democratic Party of Tennessee, March 31, 2011:

Big Money Bash During Legislative Session Likely Breaks Election Finance Laws

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester issued the following statement today condemning the state G.O.P.’s high-dollar fundraiser being hosted by Gov. Bill Haslam at the Governor’s mansion tonight:

We’re now 77 days into Gov. Bill Haslam’s first term. In that time, we have not seen any inkling whatsoever that Republicans have a jobs plan — or even any ideas to put struggling Tennesseans back to work.

On the other hand, we have seen plenty of proposals that: grow the size of government, attack teachers, attack science, restrict religion, blow the tops off our Smoky Mountains, build a state mint, turn away affordable health care, disenfranchise voters, micromanage local school districts from Nashville, make government less transparent, waste millions of tax dollars, stifle economic growth BUT most of all — protect the financial interests of their big dollar campaign donors.

Tonight, those titans of industry are coming to the governor’s mansion to pay the piper.

“Shakedown” Bill Haslam is hosting a fundraiser for the Tennessee Republican Party at $3,000 to $25,000 a ticket — all this smack dab in the middle of legislative session.

What kind of message does this send to the everyday man who can’t afford to spend a year’s salary on Shakedown Bill’s one night soiree?

This event likely shatters the ethics laws designed to keep special interest money out of government, and it surely doesn’t pass muster in the eyes of working Tennesseans.

This governor and the Republican Party are running a pay-to-play scheme on Capitol Hill. Government for sale! All expenses paid for by taxpaying Tennesseans.

In his eight years in office, Gov. Phil Bredesen never held a fundraiser during session. He also mandated that he and his cabinet members would fully disclose their incomes and income sources.

That’s the way it should be.

In contrast, Bill Haslam’s first directive as governor was to repeal Bredesen’s executive order that made financial disclosure for the governor and his cabinet the law of the land.

Hard-working Tennesseans don’t want government business done behind locked doors anymore than they want big money, special interest groups influencing the legislative process.

But that doesn’t seem to bother “Shakedown” Bill and other Republicans, who are standing at the door of their fundraiser with hat in hand



1. Tennessee law puts major restrictions on fundraising during the legislative session for the governor, state senators, state representatives and state parties.

2010 Tennessee Code?Title 2 – Elections

Chapter 10 – Campaign Finances

Part 3 – Campaign Contributions Limits

2-10-310 – Fund raising during general assembly session.

(a) (1) Except as provided in subdivisions (a)(2) and (a)(3), from the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, no member of the general assembly or a member’s campaign committee or the governor or the governor’s campaign committee shall conduct a fundraiser or solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or member or candidate of the general assembly or governor.

(2) During such period, a member of the general assembly who is a candidate for a local public office shall be permitted to conduct fundraising events and solicit or accept contributions for such campaign for local public office only under the following conditions:

(A) Such fundraising events may be held only in the county in which such member is a candidate for local public office;

(B) Solicitations and acceptance of contributions for such purposes may only be made from individuals residing in such county;

(C) Such fundraising events shall not be held, nor contributions be solicited nor accepted, on state property;

(D) The member shall not be permitted to solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any actual or in-kind contribution during such period from a lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist; and

(E) No other member of the general assembly or the campaign committee of such other member shall be permitted to solicit or accept contributions during such period for the member campaigning for local public office. It shall be unlawful for any lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist to make any contribution to such member’s campaign committee during such period for any purpose.

(3) All contributions raised as a result of fundraising or a fundraising event authorized and held in accordance with subdivision (a)(2) shall be reported on a form prescribed and provided by the registry of election finance for such purposes. Such form shall be filed with and attached to the applicable campaign finance disclosure report. The following disclosures shall be made on such form:

(A) The amount of contributions collected as a result of such fundraising event;

(B) The date and place such fundraising event was held;

(C) The dates on which such contributions were accepted; and

(D) All other information required by law to be reported on a campaign financial disclosure report.

(b) From the convening of the general assembly in organizational session through the earlier of the last day of regular session or June 1 in odd years, and from the convening of the general assembly in regular session to the earlier of May 15 or the conclusion of the annual session in even years, and from the convening of the general assembly in any extraordinary session through the conclusion of such extraordinary session, a political campaign committee controlled by a political party on the national, state, or local level, or by a caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly, that makes contributions to a candidate for the general assembly or governor for election or to defray the expenses of such person’s office shall not conduct a fundraiser, solicit or accept contributions for the benefit of the caucus, any caucus member or candidate for the general assembly or governor.

(c) Excess funds for election to a local public office are not eligible for transfer under § 2-10-114 to a campaign account for election to the general assembly or governor.

[Acts 1995, ch. 531, § 1; 1998, ch. 1062, § 7; 2002, ch. 470, § 1; 2006 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 1, §§ 17, 18.]


Press Releases

TNDP Chairman Says Dems Look Forward To New Year

A statement from Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester; Dec. 17, 2010:

The holiday season is a time for us to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year. This past year has been memorable to say the least. For example, Tennesseans witnessed torrential flooding in the spring and a huge outpouring of compassion from one another as we recovered from the devastation. We Tennesseans are courageous, resilient and, above all, compassionate.

We also saw a great deal of change in our political leadership. Last month we elected a new governor, four new congressmen and a whole host of new state legislators, signaling a dramatic change in the state’s political landscape. Some have observed this election as a signal that Tennessee Democrats have lost their way and are doomed to political insignificance for the next decade or more. Those who believe that are wrong and have a poor understanding of history.

Tennessee is a wonderful state in which to live and raise a family. We have much to offer our residents, including diverse political views. As time passes and situations change, we elect leaders who most reflect our viewpoints and the society in which we live. This past election was simply a reflection of an evolving electorate. And that electorate will continue to evolve. Our elected officials would do well to remember this fact.

Tennessee Democrats are as courageous, resilient and compassionate as the rest of the state’s citizens. We have stood strong for our principles, our neighbors and our communities. We will continue doing that. We have worked overtime to ensure our communities attract good-paying jobs, bolster their schools and provide the services needed to enhance quality of life.

Democrats in the state Legislature and Gov. Phil Bredesen have done an admirable job in a challenging economic environment. Through their fiscal discipline, they made sure our state remained on sound financial footing, with a debt load ranking the lowest of any state in the nation. Republicans in the General Assembly should work with their Democratic colleagues to move Tennessee forward by ensuring our children receive top-notch educations, our citizens have good jobs and our communities get the help and support they need to be desirable and safe places to live.

I wish Gov.-elect Bill Haslam well and hope he can instill in the Republican leadership in the General Assembly that we have to work together to ensure Tennessee is a state conducive to job growth, educational opportunities and diversity. Too many Republican lawmakers have displayed an astounding amount of hypocrisy in the last couple of years. This nation and this state are facing some big challenges, and it behooves all of us to stop this political posturing and work together to meet those challenges.

Meanwhile, Tennessee Democrats need to do a better job reminding Tennesseans we have been good stewards of the state and of the people’s interests. We will work with our Republican colleagues to ensure this state and our communities move forward and have the tools needed to ensure success. And we will work relentlessly to elect Democratic leaders who reflect the courage, resilience and compassion of Tennessee’s citizens. That’s why we look forward to the new year and the challenges ahead.

Press Releases

TN Democrats: Republicans Should Return Brody Contributions

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party, September 28, 2010

Tennessee Republican Campaign Contributor Accused of Massive Fraud

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said Republican lawmakers should return any campaign contributions they received from fellow Republican Ira Brody in light of allegations he bilked hundreds of millions of dollars from a former employer.

Brody had been a candidate for state treasurer after Republicans gained control of the General Assembly in November 2008. According to the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, Brody and his family contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Tennessee Republican candidates over the last few years.

“I don’t see how any lawmaker could keep that cash knowing it may have been stolen,” Forrester said. “Tennesseans deserve to know their elected officials are not using stolen money to finance their campaigns. Any lawmaker who took a campaign contribution from Mr. Brody and his family should give it back immediately.”

Nashville television station WTVF Channel 5 reports that Brody has been accused of a massive fraud that “destroyed” Concord Capital Management by looting the company’s assets of “hundreds of millions of dollars.” The same report indicates Brody and his family appear to have given more than $200,000 to Republican candidates, including the Tennessee Republican Party.

According to state records and the Federal Election Commission, U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander received campaign contributions from Brody, as did state Sens. Ron Ramsey, Jim Tracy, Ken Yager and Delores Gresham along with state Reps. Joe Carr and Donna Rowland. Murfreesboro state House candidate Rick Womick also received campaign contribution from Brody and his family.

“Mr. Brody evidently tried to buy the state treasurer’s job with ill-gotten gains,” Forrester said. “We are fortunate he is not in charge of Tennessee’s revenues now.

“Most Tennessee voters cannot afford to make exorbitant campaign contributions like Mr. Brody did. Instead, many of us are struggling to make our mortgages, pay the bills and feed our families.

“It seems the state GOP remains out of touch with ordinary Tennesseans because they are too busy soliciting money from donors with deep pockets and special interests. We need our elected officials to focus on more ways to create better jobs for us and better schools for our kids,” he added.

Press Releases

TNDP: Republicans Still Pitching ‘Failed Economic Policies’

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party, Sept. 23, 2010:

Republicans from Washington, D.C., including Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, are crisscrossing the state in an attempt to confuse Tennessee voters into believing the weak job market is a result of current economic policies.

“I’m confident Tennessee voters remember what got us into this mess in the first place,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said. “It was the failed economic policies of a Republican White House that was more concerned about helping the bottom line of its Wall Street and Big Business buddies.

“This Congress and this White House have turned things around for us. We’ve emerged from a deep recession, but we still have a long way to go before this economy churns out the level of jobs it was before George Bush took office.

“Tennessee Republicans like Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, along with Reps. John Duncan, Phil Roe, Zach Wamp and Marsha Blackburn, seem to have a memory block about what happened. They want to blame Democrats when they know full well it was their Republican leadership that nearly sent our economy into a ditch.”

Forrester pointed out that the entire Republican congressional delegation from Tennessee voted against the Recovery Act last year, a package that has committed $6 billion in federal funding to help the state create or retain more than 10,000 jobs and provide much-needed infrastructure improvements. Included in that funding package is $500 million in Race to the Top funds helping Tennessee complete a comprehensive reform of its schools.

“It is shameful that each of them has the audacity to come back home and take credit for the very projects they voted against,” Forrester said of the state’s Republican congressional delegation.

“Whether it’s a new $11 million school construction project over in Hamblen County or a $483 million investment at the Spring Hill General Motors plant to create 500 jobs, Republicans want to take credit for it. If that isn’t the ultimate example of hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.”

Forrester also called the Republicans so-called “Pledge to America” a gimmick that would send our economy into the same ditch from which we are now climbing out.

“They would rather continue to protect corporate loopholes and their Wall Street buddies than help ordinary hard-working Tennesseans find a job or send their children to a good college,” Forrester said. “Their pledge is nothing more than a gimmick. We cannot afford to go down that path again.”