Monthly Archives: October 2022

McNally PAC’s interim filing kept in separate list from other last-minute disclosures

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) wields the gavel during a floor session on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Under new campaign finance rules adopted earlier this year, candidates for state and local office now have to disclose major contributions and expenditures coming in the final days of an election. As reported in The Tennessee Journal on Friday, about a half-million dollars of last-minute expenditures were reported in advance of the Aug. 4 primary, but about the same amount again went undisclosed until the quarterly filings were submitted in October.

Included in our total were $11,700 spent by Senate Speaker Randy McNally’s PAC that didn’t appear to be included within the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance list of interim disclosures. But the McNally camp notes it emailed the disclosure to the Registry on July 27, meaning it was properly submitted. So what gives?

It turns out the Registry keeps separate lists for interim reports — those submitted electronically and those filed using paper forms. But that’s far from clear for anyone visiting the site and clicking on the campaign finance disclosures icon. Following the link to search interim campaign finance disclosure reports takes visitors to a page that collects electronically filed reports (though there is no indication there that other disclosures are stored elsewhere).

Work your way through a pulldown menu, however, and links appear for “Completed Interim Reports” and “Interim Reports – Paper Filings.” The latter contains 27 filings from the before the primary (mostly for local or judicial races), including the one from McNally’s PAC, plus three from Republican state House candidate Janet Testerman totaling more than $36,000 in expenditures for her unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination to succeed retiring state Rep. Eddie Mannis (R-Knoxville).

So McNally and Testerman appear to have done everything right in their reporting. The confusion could be eliminated if the law was updated to require the interim reports to be filed electronically. But it also wouldn’t take much for the Registry to make it more clear it is keeping two sets of books.

Former Tennessee first lady Honey Alexander dies at 77

(Image credit: Alexander family)

Honey Alexander, who was married to former governor and U.S. senator Lamar Alexander for 53 years, died Saturday at her home outside Maryville. She was 77.

The Los Angeles native met was a staffer for U.S. Sen John Tower of Texas when she met Lamar Alexander, then an aide to Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker Jr., at a softball game in Washington.

As first lady from 1979 to 1987, Honey Alexander led the state’s Healthy Children Initiative. Nashville’s Family & Children Service named its new building after Alexander in 2017. She had previously cofounded Leadership Nashville.

Here is the family’s obituary:

In 2017, when Nashville’s Family & Children Service named its new home “The Honey Alexander Center,” the organization said: “Honey Alexander has dedicated her life to the service of others.”

Honey, as everyone called her, was nicknamed perfectly by her older brother when she was a baby. She was born October 12, 1945, in Los Angeles, California, the second of five children of Frank and Bette Jo Simpson Buhler.  When she was two years old, her family moved to Victoria, Texas. She graduated from St Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, in 1963. Honey graduated from Smith College in 1967 with a major in American Studies and joined the Washington, D.C., staff of Texas U.S. Senator John G. Tower.

That summer, during a softball game between the Tower staff and the staff of Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, Jr, she met Baker staffer Lamar Alexander. He claims that she slid into first base. She said he imagined that. Nevertheless, 18 months later, on January 4, 1969, they were married in Victoria. They lived first in Washington, D.C., while her husband worked at the White House for President Richard M. Nixon.

In August 1970, when Honey moved to Nashville with her husband and 11-month-old son, Drew, she began to focus her attention on efforts relating to the health and wellbeing of families and children.  “Strong families make strong children,” she said in 2017. As Tennessee’s First Lady from 1979 to 1987, she led the statewide Healthy Children Initiative with the goal of providing prenatal health care for every child.  She was a member of the 1985-1986 Southern Regional Task Force on Infant Mortality, the Governor’s Task Forces on Day Care and on Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and the U.S. Health Secretary’s Council on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

In 1976 Honey co-founded Leadership Nashville.  She served Family & Children Service as president of its board and chaired multiple events. She also served on the boards of the Adventure Science Center, Vanderbilt’s Kennedy Center, the Junior League of Nashville, the Dede Wallace Center and the Hermitage.  Nationally, she has been vice-chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and board member of Family Service America and the National Archives Foundation.

During the dedication of the Honey Alexander Center in 2019, she reflected on the work she’d witnessed by physicians and mental health professionals and adoption professionals, saying, “It is not what I have given over the years but what I’ve gained from working with such inspirational people.” 

She was a co-founder of two successful businesses: In 1976, Blackberry Farm, and, in 1987, Corporate Child Care Inc., which ten years later merged with Bright Horizons to become the world’s largest provider of worksite child care.

Honey was an effective advocate and partner in her husband’s public service. She campaigned during Lamar’s six races for governor and U.S. Senator, served eight years as First Lady, moved to Knoxville when he was University of Tennessee president and then to Washington, D.C., when he was United States Education Secretary and Senator. During 1994-1996, she traveled on her own to 80 different Iowa communities in his campaign for President.   

In each of these roles, she always was smiling and thinking first of others. She was proper without pretense, demonstrating an unerring sense of what was appropriate whether it was as hostess for a state dinner for auto executives, or a Bonne Belle Run for women, or for the National Governors Association meeting in Nashville.

But the limelight was not Honey’s favorite place to be. During the 1996 New Hampshire presidential primary, Larry King asked her in a CNN interview: “Do you really want to be First Lady and live in the White House?” Honey answered quickly, “No.” She was happiest with her children and grandchildren, planting daffodils or tulips or roses, enjoying Mexican food with her friends and reading historical novels.

She arrived at the Governor’s residence in 1979 with Drew, 9, Leslee, 6, and Kathryn, 4.  Five months later, Will was born. That meant, she said,  “managing litters of puppies and kittens and guinea pigs and trying to make this a real home.”     

“There are lots of days when the children’s rooms don’t look perfect and neither do I,” she wrote in 1986. “I feel much less compelled to weed the gardens or clean the garage myself—I’d really rather be jogging. And the most important facets of my life remain the same: supporting Lamar, mothering the children, helping others, nurturing good physical, spiritual and emotional and intellectual health in me and those closet to me.” 

She loved to jog, 3-5 miles on most days. Neighbors to the Governor’s residence became accustomed to her running on Curtiswood Lane followed by state troopers in patrol cars. She participated in an Outward Bound Course.

After the family’s eight years in the “fishbowl of the governor’s residence,” Honey insisted that they “get away from it all” and the Alexanders moved to Sydney, Australia, where they lived for six months  “to try to get our feet back on the ground.”   

At 8, Leslee wrote in a school essay, “My mother is the lioness who keeps the family in hand and allows us to live and grow.”

Honey Alexander is survived by her husband of 53 years, Lamar Alexander; three children, Leslee Alexander of Maryville, Kathryn Alexander, of Briarcliff Manor, NY, and Will Alexander, of Nashville; nine grandchildren; her brothers Frank Buhler, Jr. and Bruce Buhler; and her sisters Blanche Carter and Jessica Weiland. A fourth child,Drew Alexander of Nashville, died on December 31, 2021. 

She has been a generous and long time member of Christ (Episcopal) Church Cathedral in Nashville.

The Alexander family expresses its gratitude to Joe Black, Karl Fillauer, Jannell Costa, April Davidson, Harley Raposa, Jo Mullins, Sandy Abel, Reynard Graham and Drs. David Rankin, John Sergent, Andrew Shinar, Tom Davis and Dale Berry for their loving care for Honey.

There will be a private graveside service for family members at the family cemetery at Hesse Creek Chapel in Walland, TN, with the Rev. William J. Carl, Honey’s brother-in-law, officiating. A memorial service will be held later at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Honey Alexander Center, 2400 Clifton Avenue, Nashville 37209

New TNJ edition alert: Kelsey waves the white flag, Harwell denies wrongdoing, state disclosure problems

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, confers with then-Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) on the House floor in Nashville on April 30, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— Kelsey signals surrender in criminal case stemming from failed bid for Congress.

— Harwell denies doing anything wrong by bankrolling federal PAC with state money.

— Legislative candidates slow on the uptake for new state campaign finance reporting requirements.

— Ogles’ fundraising totals continue to sputter, but generic ballot suggests big GOP cushion.

Also: Former Nashville mayor penning book about rise and fall, Cade Cothren gets denied request for day trips to Alabama, longtime Rep. Barbara Cooper – the recipient of a former GOP senator’s infamous “rat’s ass” email — dies, and an independent gubernatorial candidate faces legal charges.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

Kelsey, who angrily denied charges, to change plea in federal case

State Sen. Brian Kelsey denies wrongdoing in a video conference call following his indictment on Oct. 25, 2021. (Image: screengrab from call)

State Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Germantown Republican who blamed a political witch hunt for a federal indictment on campaign finance charges, now plans to change his not-guilty plea in the case.

Kelsey’s attorneys made the motion for a hearing on the matter on Thursday. The lawmaker’s codefendant, Nashville club owner Josh Smith, pleaded guilty last week.

Kelsey is accused of illegally transferring money from his state campaign account to Smith’s PAC and then directing the money to be redirected to a national group to spend on his 2016 congressional bid. Kelsey finished fourth in that contest.

U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw has yet to schedule Kelsey’s change-of-plea hearing.

State Rep. Barbara Cooper dies at 93

Longtime state Rep. Barbara Cooper (D-Memphis) has died at age 93.

Cooper, a retired teacher and organizer with the the African-American Peoples Organization was first elected to the House in 1996 after then-Rep. Rufus Jones gave up the seat to make an unsuccessful bid for Congress.

Here’s the release from the House Democratic Caucus:

MEMPHIS—Tennessee Rep. Barbara Ward Cooper, a decorated educator, highly regarded community advocate and longtime member of the state House who championed reforms for students and the city of Memphis, has died. She was 93.

First elected to the State House of Representatives in 1996, Rep. Cooper served the 86th House District in Shelby County for 26 years in the 100th through the 112th General Assembly. She is remembered as passionate supporter of education, public health and reducing poverty.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my longtime colleague and dear friend, Barbara Cooper” said  House Minority Leader Karen Camper. “She was a warrior for her community and the City of Memphis, a tireless advocate on education and equality issues and just a delightful person.  We will all miss her.”

Cooper, a retired Memphis City Schools teacher who worked in several roles for the district, was a fierce fighter for Tennessee students. She believed wholly in the transformative power of education and she herself continued studying throughout her life, graduating from Manassas High School in Memphis, then earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from her beloved Tennessee State University, as well as a Doctorate of Religious Philosophy and Christian Psychology at Jacksonville Theological Seminary.

In addition to her decades of service to students, Cooper was an unwavering voice for the community of Memphis and advancing the rights of Black Tennesseans. One clear example of her work was the Cooper-Jones Initiative, an education collaboration with former Rep. Ulysses Jones, Jr. seeking to lift up underserved Memphians. Cooper also formed the Harriet Tubman Legacy Awards to honor Memphians who were committed to uplifting the community.  

Cooper was an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and its community service programs. She was also proud member of organizations, such as the NAACP, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Council of Negro Women, and many more.

Rep. Cooper’s steadfast commitment to her neighbors and charitable causes is reflected by the countless number of awards and accolades bestowed upon her through the years, such as the Equal Opportunity Group Inc. Project Save-A-Student Award, the AFL-CIO Leadership Award, the Dr. Raymond Winbush Award, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Extraordinary Leadership Award.

She attended St. Augustine Catholic Church and was an active member of the congregation.

Rep. Barbara Ward Cooper, born Aug. 4, 1929, is survived by her daughter Reverend Joan Cooper Burnett and daughter Tanya Cooper; grandchildren Reneshia Burnett, Ashlea Burnett Vainqueur (Willy) and Martez King; great grandchildren; and a host of family, friends and supporters. 

She is preceded in death by her husband John D. Cooper, whom she was married to for 55 years, and her son Carl Cooper.

Arrangements for a celebration of life service will be forthcoming. Until then, the family respectfully asks for prayer and privacy at this time.

Titans release renderings of proposed new $2.1B stadium

The Tennessee Titans are releasing renderings of what the NFL team’s new domed stadium would look like if the Metro Council in Nashville approves issuing $760 million in bonds to fund the local share of the $2.1 billion project. The state legislature has previously committed $500 million in bonds and the team, NFL, and season ticket holders would cover the $840 million remainder.

Here is the release from the Titans:

The Tennessee Titans today shared renderings of its potential new stadium, which would encompass 1.7 million square feet with a capacity of approximately 60,000. The renderings follow last week’s announcement that the team and the City of Nashville had reached a proposed agreement for a new, enclosed stadium, which will be discussed by Metro Council and the Sports Authority in coming weeks.

“We envision a potential new stadium that makes our community proud and enhances the reputation of our great city and state,” said Titans president and CEO Burke Nihill. “We’re focused on designing a stadium capable of hosting a prestigious international event on a Sunday and a steady flow of impactful community programming later that same week. This is a building that would serve Nashville and Tennessee for generations.”

The stadium designs were created by MANICA, a Kansas City-based architecture firm that has worked on projects such as Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and Chase Center in San Francisco. The team commissioned MANICA to produce the concepts in order to inform site planning and cost estimates.

Hastings, a Nashville-based architecture firm, also participated in the design work, with a particular emphasis on reflecting Nashville’s spirit and character, and a focus on seamlessly integrating the building into the proposed neighborhood surrounding the stadium.

The stadium architecture is inspired by the city of Nashville and is planned to be complementary to the broader East Bank development plan led by the City. The design gave specific attention to multi-purpose function, in order to maximize the number and types of events that could take place in the building.

Key features of the design include:

— Exterior terraces and porches with panoramic views of Nashville that will serve as social space during event days

— A circular-shaped, high-tech ETFE translucent roof

— Improved sight lines for all spectators through diverse viewing experiences

— High-tech and sustainable materials throughout the building

Other features of the building not pictured include a 12,000 sq. ft. dedicated community space that could be utilized year-round for educational opportunities, non-profit events and other community-minded purposes.

The new stadium will set a goal of achieving a U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification. The Titans have not yet selected an architect of record for the building. A full architectural design process would begin at a later date.

Campbell hits Ogles for ‘red herring’ remark on abortion exceptions

Democratic congressional candidate Heidi Campbell is out with another ad criticizing Republican opponent Andy Ogles position on banning most abortions in Tennessee.

Here’s what she says in the ad:

This summer, Andy Ogles cheered for Tennessee’s statewide ban on abortions. He called victims of rape and incest “a red herring used by the left and radicals.” This November, moms and daughters, fathers and brothers are coming together to protect our freedom to make health care decisions without interference from politicians like Andy Ogles. I’m Heidi Campbell and I’m running for Congress because in America our daughters deserve the same rights and freedoms as our sons. I’m Heidi Campbell, I approve this message.

Campbell and Ogles are vying for the 5th Congressional District seat, which is being vacated by longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) after the legislature redrew its boundaries to make it more friendly to Republican candidates.

Former Rep. Durham arrested on drunken driving charges

Former Rep. Jeremy Durham’s booking photo. (Image credit: Metro Nashville Police)

Police arrested former state Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) in Nashville’s downtown tourist district over the weekend on charges of drunken driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest.

Durham was ousted from the House in 2016 after the Attorney General’s Office issued a report detailing allegations of sexual misconduct against 22 women. According to an officer’s affidavit, Durham was involved in a crash at the corner of 1st Avenue and Broadway just after 11 p.m. on Saturday. When police arrived at the scene, Durham allegedly tried to walk away and pulled away from being placed in handcuffs.

When they searched Durham, police said they found a metal grinder containing marijuana residue. They also said Durham had slurred speech, dilated pupils, was unsteady on his feet, had a strong odor of residue on his breath. Durham declined to participate in a sobriety test so officials requested a warrant to take a blood sample.

Durham was released on bond at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

New TNJ alert: Guilty plea in Kelsey case, Durham appeals, pro-Harwell PAC gets Harwell funding

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, and then-Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) hold a press conference on Feb. 2, 2015. (Image Credit: Erik Schelzig)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— Restaurateur pleads guilty in Kelsey case, Durham appeals Registry fines

— Andy Ogles’ lackluster fundraising endures through third quarter while Heidi Campbell rakes it in.

— Independent expenditures PAC founded to help Beth Harwell got major funding from … Harwell.

— Nashville mayor proposes final piece of funding plan for stadium.

Also: Weston Wamp and Hamilton Count Commission at odds over firing attorney, the Volunteers crowdsource the money to replace goalposts after historic win, Mark Green get’s $600 worth of hair and makeup work, and Andy Ogles tries to place this Bill Frist guy.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

Early voting gets underway Wednesday

Early voting gets underway today.

Here’s a release from the Secretary of State’s Office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Starting today, Tennessee voters can cast their ballot early for the Nov. 8 State and Federal General Election.

Early voting runs Monday to Saturday until Thursday, Nov. 3. and offers the convenience and flexibility of evening hours and multiple polling locations in some counties. Tennessee voters can find their polling hours, locations and more with the GoVoteTN app or online at The GoVoteTN app is free in the App Store or Google Play.

“Every year, more Tennesseans are taking advantage of the convenience and flexibility of our generous early voting period,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I encourage you to make your voice heard.”

Tennessee voters need to bring valid photo identification to the polls. A driver’s license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Tennessee state government or the federal government is acceptable even if expired. A student ID or out-of-state driver’s license is not acceptable. For more information about what types of IDs are permitted, visit

“With early voting, many Tennesseans can choose the time and location to cast their ballot,” said Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins. “And by casting your ballot early, you can avoid election day crowds and help reduce wait times for yourself and other voters.”

The Secretary of State’s office is Tennessee’s trusted source for accurate election information. For the latest information about the Nov. 8 election, follow the Secretary of State’s social media channels Twitter: @SecTreHargett, Facebook: Tennessee Secretary of State and Instagram: @tnsecofstate.
For more information about early voting, visit or call the Division of Elections toll-free at 1-877-850-4959.


Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.