Bill Lee

Lee names West Tennessee Appeals Judge Gibson as adviser

Brandon Gibson, a judge on the western section of the Tennessee Court of Appeals has been named senior adviser to Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s incoming administration. She will be focus on long-term initiatives like criminal justice reform and prioritizing the needs of rural communities.

Here’s full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced his appointment of Brandon Gibson to serve as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Governor, a cabinet-level position.

“Brandon is a principled conservative with deep rural roots in our state,” said Lee. “She is widely respected for her service on the Court of Appeals and I am honored that she will continue her commitment to public service in this administration.”

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Lee makes 6 more Cabinet annoucements

From Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s transition office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced six appointments to his cabinet for the Department of Children’s Services, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the Department of Revenue and the Division of TennCare.

“The six individuals joining our cabinet represent each of our Grand Divisions and bring vast experience in their respective areas,” said Lee. “I am excited to work with this group and look forward to building solutions for our state.”

The Governor-elect named the following appointments today:

  • Jennifer Nichols – Department of Children’s Services
  • Tony Parker – Department of Corrections
  • Bob Rolfe – Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Dr. Jeff McCord – Department of Labor & Workforce Development
  • David Gerregano – Department of Revenue
  • Gabe Roberts – Division of TennCare

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Former Rep. Courtney Rogers to head Veterans Services in Lee administration

Gov.-elect Bill Lee has named former Rep. Courtney Rogers (R-Hendersonville) as commissioner of veterans services and Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes as the head of military affairs.

Here’s was he release from the Lee transition;

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced two appointments to his cabinet for the Department of Military and the Department of Veterans Services.

“We are pleased to add two experienced military leaders to our cabinet today,” said Lee. “Our veterans and active duty personnel will be in good hands with these appointments and I look forward to working with them.”

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Vanderbilt poll finds strong support for Gov.-elect Lee

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee speaks at a rally in Franklin on Oct. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new poll by Vanderbilt University finds Republican Gov.-elect Bill Lee coming into office with support nearly rivaling that of outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam.

Here’s the release from Vanderbilt:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Governor-elect Bill Lee will enter office with a strong favorability rating of 57 percent, with only 22 percent of registered voters holding an unfavorable view, according to the latest Vanderbilt University Poll. The findings also suggest Lee will also find support for some of his initiatives, including expanding vocational training in the state. Meanwhile, health care has surpassed the economy and education for the first time in the poll’s history as Tennesseans’ chief priority for state government.

“Overall, we see support for an agenda that could work for our incoming governor,” said John Geer, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll. “Education and the economy are strong priorities, as well as immigration and infrastructure.”

“The one worry Bill Lee must deal with is health care, which has risen in importance to Tennesseans,” said poll co-director Josh Clinton, Abby and Jon Winkelried Professor of Political Science. “Although the two are related, health care now takes precedence above the economy to voters here.”

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Lee names 2 new Cabinet members, keeps 2 others

Gov.-elect Bill Lee has named new commissioners of the tourism and safety departments, while keeping the commissioners of financial institutions and tourism from predecessor Bill Haslam’s administration.

Here’s the full release from the Lee transition office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced four appointments to his cabinet for departments including Commerce and Insurance, Financial Institutions, Safety and Homeland Security, and Tourist Development. 

“I am pleased these four talented individuals have agreed to join my cabinet and lead these important departments,” said Lee. “Their experience and institutional knowledge will be invaluable as we build long-term solutions for our state.”

The Governor-elect named the following appointments today:

  • Julie McPeak– Department of Commerce and Insurance
  • Greg Gonzales– Department of Financial Institutions
  • Jeff Long– Department of Safety and Homeland Security
  • Mark Ezell – Department of Tourist Development

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Sheriff Jeff Long to be named Lee’s safety commissioner

Gov.-elect Bill Lee plans to name Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long as commissioner of the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security, a source close to the transition tells The Tennessee Journal.

Long, the Tennessee Sheriff Association’s sheriff of the year of 2013, will succeed David Purkey, who was named safety commissioner in 2016. Purkey, , a former state trooper and mayor of Hamblen County, had previously served as assistant commissioner since 2011.

Long succeeded former Williamson County Sheriff Ricky Headley, who had resigned earlier in 2008 as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in Davidson and Williamson counties over fraudulently obtaining prescription pain pills.

Long wrote in a 2017 letter to the editor of The Tennessean that he met Lt. Gov. Rand McNally (R-Oak Ridge) in the opening phases of Operation Rocky Top, in which the lawmaker wore a wire for investigators. “He placed his whole political career in jeopardy by having the strength to stand up for what was right,” Long wrote. “Operation Rocky Top would not have been possible if not for a man of high character and morality as Lt. Governor McNally.”

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Lee staffs up his legislative team

Gov.-elect Bill Lee speaks to a Chamber of Commerce event in Memphis on Dec. 6, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A release from Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced four additions to his staff in the Office of the Governor, all of whom will have responsibilities connected to Legislative Affairs.

“Working with the legislature is one of the most important jobs a governor has,” said Lee. “These four talented and qualified individuals will do a tremendous job representing my administration and the State of Tennessee at the Tennessee General Assembly. I am grateful they are joining our team.” 

The Governor-elect named the following to his staff today:

  • Chris Devaney– Special Assistant to the Governor
  • Brent Easley– Legislative Director
  • Liz Alvey– Legislative Counsel
  • Brittany Collins – Senior Legislative Liaison

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Lee chooses Charlie Hatcher as his agriculture commissioner

A release from Republican Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s transition office:

FRANKLIN, Tenn.At the Tennessee Farm Bureau Annual Convention, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced that Dr. Charlie Hatcher will join his cabinet to serve as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

“Charlie brings tremendous perspective about our state’s rural resources and agricultural way of life,” said Lee. “What happens in rural Tennessee matters to all Tennesseans and Charlie has the experience to carry out the administration’s key priorities in agriculture and rural economic development.”

Since 2009, Dr. Hatcher has served as the State Veterinarian for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture where he protects the health and welfare of animals within the state, as well as promoting the marketability of animals and animal products.

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Lee names senior staff positions

Gov.-elect Bill Lee is formally naming his first three Cabinet appointments (one new one and two holdovers from the Haslam administration), and is also announcing six senior staff positions, including Lang Wiseman as his deputy and legal counsel.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced his first cabinet appointments as well as several key appointments to his forthcoming gubernatorial staff.

“We have received a tremendous amount of interest from Tennesseans across the state who are interested in serving our administration,” said Lee. “I am proud to announce these first members of my cabinet and staff. They are highly qualified to lead in their respective areas and will be an important part in helping our state continue to grow.”

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Lee to retain Haslam’s commissioners for human services, mental health

Gov.-elect Bill Lee plans to retain two commissioners from fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, The Tennessean reports. They are Danielle Barnes, the commissioner of the Department of Human Services, and Marie Williams, who heads the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Other current commissioners are are also expected to be held over for in the Cabinet of the new Lee administration.

As The Tennessee Journal reported earlier this week, Lee plans to name Stuart McWhorter as commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Administration. McWhorter was Lee’s finance chairman during the governor’s race and is currently the chairman of his inauguration planning efforts.

Lee plans to have most of his Cabinet named by the time he is sworn in as governor on Jan. 19.