Press Releases

TNGOP to Schools: Ignore ACLU on Prayer Suit

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; October 10, 2013:

Dear Superintendent:

One week ago, you likely received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN). The message is the latest yearly missive sent out by the far-left organization meant to intimidate Tennessee students and high school athletes from exercising their First Amendment rights.

The group behind the letter misses a very basic principle about the First Amendment: It was written—not to protect government from religion—but to ensure religious freedoms are not violated by the government.

Moreover, the ACLU-TN willfully misrepresents a point highlighted by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case it cites. The Court has found:

“(N)othing in the Constitution…prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the schoolday.” Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 313 (2000).

When it comes to this issue, we stand with families across Tennessee who want to protect expressions of faith in the public forum and the precious freedoms we all hold dear.

It should be noted this is a Tennessee issue, not a partisan one. My colleague who leads the Tennessee Democratic Party, Roy Herron, was actually the first individual to lay out this position. In an opinion piece he authored as a State Senator about this very issue for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Herron wrote, “The Constitution does not require government hostility to religion.”

He wrote this to give a public explanation for the Tennessee Student Religious Liberty Act. The law was meant to “prevent government discrimination against religion, and to see that students’ existing constitutional rights are honored.” Essentially, the law enshrines the Court’s finding in Santa Fe here in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Legislature further clarified what is permissible in Tennessee schools recently with the passage of a law that ensures “school administrators may not prohibit personnel from participating in religious activities on school grounds that are initiated by students.”

Obviously, the ACLU-TN is using scare tactics and the implied threat of litigation to stamp out the First Amendment rights of students. Not only is this a transparent political stunt, it is a misreading of the law and misunderstanding of Tennessee’s unique spiritual heritage.

With a new week of football games set to kick off, we write today to tell you we stand with you and the millions of Tennesseans who want to express their rights and not cower to the liberal self-interests of a leftwing organization.


Chris Devaney
Tennessee Republican Party

Press Releases

Former TNGOP Chair Named to TN Economic Council on Women

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; September 16, 2013:

(September 16, 2013, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) and Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today appointed Robin Smith of Hixson to the Tennessee Economic Council on Women.

“Robin Smith is the kind of strong conservative woman who can serve as a true role model for all women in Tennessee,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “A skilled advocate for free markets and economic growth, I look forward to her ideas on how to use the council to empower our state’s women economically.”

“Robin Smith has been a passionate advocate for women’s economic advancement in our state for years,” said Speaker Harwell. “I am excited that she has agreed to serve to further the economic betterment of women, children and families in Tennessee.”

Smith graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville with a degree in nursing and is certified in project management through Stanford University.

Smith served as the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. During her tenure, Tennessee Republicans gained majorities in both houses of the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction.

A former Tennessee Human Rights Commissioner, Smith currently serves on a variety of boards and writes a weekly column for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Smith is founder and head of Rivers Edge Alliance, a management and consulting firm and is currently a partner in SmithWaterhouse Strategies, a public affairs and public relations agency.

“I’m grateful to Lt. Governor Ramsey for offering me the opportunity to serve our state,” said Smith. “I look forward to working on behalf of women across the grand divisions of Tennessee to promote free market, pro-growth policies that lead to economic empowerment for women.”

The Tennessee Economic Council on Women is a state agency created under TCA § 4-50-100 in 1998 to assess economic status of Tennessee women. The Council’s mission is to develop and advocate for solutions to help women achieve financial independence and economic autonomy.

Press Releases

TNGOP to Air Presidential ‘Welcome Message’ Touting State’s Economic Success

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; July 29, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— President Barack Obama will find a different kind of welcome mat rolled out for him in Tennessee when he arrives to tour the Chattanooga Amazon distribution plant on Tuesday. The Tennessee Republican Party has purchased airtime and will broadcast a welcome message to the President detailing the recent successes of the state.

“The message isn’t about President Obama or his feckless leadership on jobs and the economy–everyone is well aware of that dismal record,” stated Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “Instead, this ad is about the great things happening here in Tennessee because of Republican principles in action. We hope the President uses this opportunity to see what real leadership looks like and takes those lessons back to Washington. We’re the Party of opportunity and upward mobility in Tennessee and this ad touts that belief.”

The ad, which shows some of Tennessee’s stunning views and important landmarks, has a voiceover that lists just a few of the recent accolades given to Tennessee in the last year stating, “We’re fourth in job creation, top five for business, and the third freest state in the country, thanks to Republican leadership.” The ad continues stating, “In stark contrast to Washington, we’ve got the lowest debt of any state in the nation.”

In 2012 Tennessee’s gross domestic product grew faster than the country as a whole and personal income growth in Tennessee outpaced the country as well.

“Our economy and state are moving forward while we continue to see America stall under President Obama’s damaging economic policies. We hope that President Obama will see that Tennessee is the perfect example of Republican fiscal responsibility and free market approach working to grow the economy, increase personal wealth, and attract jobs. Like the ad says, ‘This is what America should look like,” concluded Devaney.

Click here to view the ad.

Press Releases

TNGOP: Legislature Passes Budget Cutting Taxes, Increasing Education Funds

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; April 18, 2013:

Republican Lawmakers Pass Balanced Budget, Democrats Try to Backdoor ObamaCare on Tennesseans

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Late in the day on Wednesday, Republicans in the General Assembly passed a $32.7 billion dollar balanced budget that cut taxes for all Tennesseans, increased funding for education, and placed $100 million into the state’s rainy day fund.

Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party Chris Devaney stated, “Senate and House Republicans should be commended for passing a balanced budget that cuts taxes and meets the needs of Tennesseans. Moreover, I am thankful for their leadership in fending off several Democrat attempts to load up this budget with wasteful spending and bad policy.”

The Senate version passed 32-0. But in the House, Democrats attempted to push bad politics and more government spending on the budget with multiple amendments, including a backdoor attempt to bring ObamaCare to Tennessee.

Amendment number three, sponsored by Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D—Ripley), sought to add over $3 billion to the budget in an attempt to implement the widely unpopular Medicaid expansion called for under ObamaCare. 26 House Democrat signed onto the amendment (see attached photo). The amendment failed 70-28 with all House Republicans opposing the egregious spending.

Ultimately, the balanced spending plan passed the House 83-14.

“Democrats want to try every conceivable way to hurt the doctor-patient relationship, cause health care premiums to skyrocket, and impose a one-size fits all approach on all of us,” said Devaney. “Tennesseans have continually rejected ObamaCare and yet Democrats are still trying to force feed us this bad policy by copying Washington Democrats’ wasteful spending addiction.”

Press Releases

TNGOP Accuses Turner, Dems of ‘Playing Politics’ on Voter ID Law, Trying to ‘Scare Senior Citizens’

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party, Oct. 21, 2011:

NASHVILLE, TN – Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner appeared on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton” this evening affirming his newfound opposition to a law that requires voters show a photo ID in order to vote. On Wednesday, Turner filed legislation to repeal the new Republican-led law that protects the integrity of our electoral process.

This comes after Representative Turner gave vocal support for the legislation in a committee hearing and on the House floor in April of this year.

“Mike Turner has taken his blatant flip-flop to the liberal airwaves of MSNBC. I guess he figured he would get a pass from Al Sharpton, and allowed to read his Democrat talking points that only further scare senior citizens about this law and not inform them,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.

“Democrats like Mike Turner need to quit playing politics with our elections by saying one thing then doing the complete opposite. While it seemed in April that there would be bipartisan support for protecting our elections, Democrats now seem to have their doubts about preserving eligible voters’ ballots,” said Devaney.

On April 5, 2011, Representative Turner went on record supporting HB 7, sponsored by Rep. Debra Maggart, during a State & Local Government Committee hearing:

  • Regarding free photo IDs for voters: “I don’t have a problem with this bill at all if we’re gonna pay for it.” This new law provides IDs at no charge to voters.
  • Regarding the ‘difficulty’ to obtain a photo ID: “Now, if you’re not willing to go get a free ID, then maybe, you know, you shouldn’t deserve to vote.”
  • Mike Turner’s conclusion in April: “I’m okay with securing the election. I think it’s great.”

On April 14, 2011, Turner echoed his praise for the legislation (SB 16 by Maggart) on the House floor:

  • “Ladies and gentlemen, I have said four times, five times now that I’ll vote for this bill if it’s funded and it’s not a poll tax.”
  • “Democrats are not against this bill.”

Video of Rep. Turner’s comments from the committee hearing and House floor can be found HERE.

Press Releases

TNGOP Alleges Conflicts of Interest for Rep. Moore

Press Release from the Republican Party of Tennessee, Aug. 29, 2011:

Democrat State Representative Gary Moore was recently elected as President of the Tennessee AFL-CIO and it is causing quite the stir. Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney has pointed out that Rep. Moore’s new position as President of one of the nation’s largest special interest lobbying groups places their chief lobbyist on the floor of the state legislature.

While Rep. Moore has stated he will not register as a lobbyist with the state, it is important to point out that his predecessor was a registered lobbyist with the state. Moore claims that he will be able to separate his duties as a legislator from the statewide union’s lobbying and political activities.

It seems that Rep. Moore is having a difficult time finding the line in the sand between his job as a state legislator and his new job as chief lobbyist for the Tennessee AFL-CIO. In recent interviews the contradictions of Gary Moore are starting to pile-up:

  • Gary Moore says that it “would be inappropriate” for someone serving as a legislator to be a lobbyist. However, Gary Moore seems a bit confused on what lobbying is because he turned around and said “the primary thing I want to do is educate the legislators.” Educating legislators about issues concerning your organization is exactly what lobbyists do.
  • In another interview Gary Moore said he will separate himself from the AFL-CIO’s political activities. However, in a different interview he stated, “One thing you’re going to see is us [AFL-CIO] reaching out to all elected officials and trying to educate them on our concerns and what our issues are.”

Tennessee State Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney commented on Rep. Moore’s contradictions by saying, “If Gary Moore can’t distinguish between what is and what is not lobbying when being questioned about the obvious conflict of interest, how can we expect him to do it in the halls of the legislature when no one is watching?”

Press Releases

TNDP: Mitch Daniels-Backed Policies ‘a Blueprint for Destruction’

Press Release from the Tennessee Democratic Party, July 13, 2011:

TNDP Chair: Daniels’ record an ‘excellent blueprint’ for harming schools, working class

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester issued the following statement criticizing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ visit to Tennessee to participate in a state GOP fundraiser to be held later this week:

Tennessee Republicans have a surplus of bad ideas that make it harder for working people to get by or for their kids to get a decent education — there’s no need to steal inspiration from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the man who wrote the failed economic policies that led us into Bush’s recession.

There’s no doubt tea party Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Gov. Bill Haslam will be gleefully taking notes and fawning over Daniels’ anti-middle class record.

Daniels is really the perfect dinner guest for the Tennessee G.O.P., after all Indiana’s Republican governor has been slashing funding for public schools, attacking the rights of teachers and workers, and advocating for unfair economic policies his entire political career. In Nashville, he’ll fit right in.

If Tennessee Republicans aspire to do more damage to public schools and further setback working-class Tennesseans, Daniels’ record is an excellent blueprint for destruction.


Engineered the Current National Fiscal Crisis As President Bush’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Daniels presided over a historic turnaround in the nation’s fiscal fortunes, in which the $5.6 trillion surplus that emerged from the Clinton administration morphed into a 10-year forecast for a $2.1 trillion deficit by early 2003.” [Guardian, 5/17/11]

Mitch Daniels fought to take away rights from Indiana educators and forced $1.4B in cuts to public education. Since 2008, Daniels’ disastrous local revenue cap has forced $1.4 billion worth of cuts to public education that has closed schools, increased class sizes, prompted mass layoffs and frozen teacher salaries. In April he signed into law a bill similar to Tennessee’s law stripping teachers of their collective bargaining powers that was vehemently opposed by Indiana educators. [Courier Press, 5/20/11]

Indiana’s families have suffered under Mitch Daniel’s economic leadership. For the second year in a row, Indiana ranked fifth nationally in personal bankruptcies, at 7.1 people per 1,000 residents. Indiana’s median family income is just 86 percent of that of the rest of the country. Median income is falling — by 15 percent in the last decade. The real unemployment rate, which includes those too discouraged to look for work, stood at 17.4 percent last year. [New York Times, 6/23/11]


Daniels’ believes in Paul Ryan-style cuts to Medicare and endorsed President Bush’s push to privatize Social Security: “[We] have to fundamentally change all the welfare and entitlement programs. What Bush tried to do [in proposing private accounts for Social Security] was mild compared to what needs to be done. You have to have a completely new compact for people under a certain age, for Medicare and Social Security.” [Weekly Standard, 6/14/11]

Refused to Accept $4 Billion in Federal Funding for Women’s Health Care: Signed into law a ban on state funding for Planned Parenthood, even after Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Michael Gargano and the Indiana Legislative Services Agency issued opinions saying it was most likely illegal and the courts would strike it down. The fact is that Indiana stands to lose $4 billion in funding while at the same time ending the ability of at risk women to receive preventive care for cancer screenings, family planning services, and sexually transmitted disease screenings. [Slate, 6/3/11]

Enacted Radical Immigration That Have Cost Hoosiers Expensive Legal Fees: Enacted radical, draconian immigration laws that have been enjoined by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Barker concluded the state overstepped its boundaries in the statue. [Indy Star, 6/24/11]

Press Releases

TNGOP Mocks Gore-led TNDP ‘Unity Breakfast’

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party, April 28, 2011:

NASHVILLE, TN – On Friday, Tennessee Democrats, led by former Vice President and failed presidential candidate Al Gore, will hold a “Unity Breakfast” in Nashville. Headlining the event are former Congressman Bart Gordon, former Congressman Lincoln Davis, former Congressman John Tanner, former gubernatorial candidate Mike McWherter and former U.S. Senate candidate Bob Tuke.

Due to the failed policies of Democrats and Barack Obama, Gordon and Tanner chose not to run for re-election last year after it became obvious that they would be rejected by voters in their districts. Davis was overwhelmingly defeated in the 4th Congressional district by Dr. Scott DesJarlais. McWherter lost his bid for Governor against Bill Haslam and Tuke was only able to win one county in his bid for U.S. Senate against Senator Lamar Alexander.

“This so-called Unity Breakfast might be the largest gathering of failed Democrat politicians in one place ever in Tennessee. Besides their losing campaigns, the one thing they can unify around is the disastrous policies of Democrats and President Obama,” said Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Last year, Democrats lost elections across Tennessee, resulting in Republicans gaining a 7-2 majority in Tennessee’s Congressional delegation, plus large majorities in the Tennessee General Assembly and a landslide victory for Governor Bill Haslam.

“Democrats should abandon Barack Obama and his liberal progressive policies that are wrecking our country, or face even worse defeats than they had this past election in Tennessee. The problem is their party is out of fresh ideas and it seems the only fresh thing this breakfast meeting will offer is the orange juice,” said Devaney.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Republican Party began airing a radio ad statewide in response to the Tennessee Democrats’ event (transcript below).

The Unity Breakfast event, which is also a fundraiser for the Tennessee Democratic Party, is charging $250.00 for patrons and is free for donors who have committed a $1000 to the Democratic Party.


“Winning” Radio Ad Transcript

VO- Paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party.

CHARLIE SHEEN- Winning, anyone?

VO- Charlie Sheen knows about winning. But Tennessee Democrats? Well, Al Gore is hosting a Nashville Unity Breakfast with the largest gathering of losing Democrat politicians probably ever.

VO- Besides losing elections, Democrats have a lot to unify over; Barack Obama’s healthcare takeover, a failed budget-busting stimulus boondoggle, and trillion dollar deficits.

VO- Now that’s Democrat unity and a recipe for losing elections.

VO- Help us defeat Barack Obama. Go to

CHARLIE SHEEN- Losers. Winning. Buh bye.

Press Releases

TNGOP: Democrats Have Long Record of ‘Job-Killing Legislation’

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party, April 12, 2011:

NASHVILLE, TN – Yesterday, a group of top Democrats again attempted to portray themselves as experts on economic growth, even after years of proposing job-killing legislation that has been consistently rejected by groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and, more recently, voters across Tennessee.

“The Democrats keep rolling out this dog and pony show, and the fact that they are lecturing on job creation and economic growth is a joke,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.

“Their record includes a litany of job-killing bills which is driven by the misguided-Obama philosophy of throwing around taxpayer money as a stimulus to create jobs. The Democrats’ plan has consistently created an obstacle to investment by the private sector,” continued Devaney.

“Governor Haslam’s top priority is, and always has been, creating an environment for economic growth, not simply throwing money and rogue legislation at the problem. This is accomplished by ensuring that we keep taxes low, invest in our schools to create a well-educated workforce, and pass much-needed tort reform in our state,” said Devaney.

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.]