Monthly Archives: December 2022

Report: Mark Green among members of Congress texting Meadows about efforts to undo 2020 election

Text messages from U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Ashland City) are among the hundreds turned over to congressional investigators by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to a report by Talking Points Memo:

Other members of Congress sent Meadows questionable legal theories and wildly undemocratic plans to have the vote overturned at the state level. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) pointed to a segment on the far-right cable network Newsmax where the political operative Dick Morris argued Republican state legislatures had the power to “declare” Trump the winner based on unproven allegations of fraud. 

Image credit: Talking Points Memo.

The text log does not include responses from Meadows to these texts from Babin, Cramer, and Green. Green’s communications director, Rachel del Guidice, provided a statement to TPM that suggested his ideas came from people in his district rather than the congressman himself.

“Congressman Green was passing along what constituents were sending him to keep the White House informed on the sentiments of his constituents,” del Guidice said. “He wasn’t advocating for any specific course of action.”

Read the full report here.

5 apply for Tennessee Supreme Court vacancy

The Tennessee Supreme Court building is seen in Nashville on Dec.8, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Five candidates have applied an upcoming state Supreme Court vacancy stemming from the retirement of Justice Sharon Lee. Her successor must be an East Tennessee resident.

The applicants are:

— Appeals Judge Kristi Davis of Knoxville.

— Criminal Appeals Judge Tom Greenholtz of Chattanooga.

— Chancellor John C. Rambo of Jonesborough.

— Attorney Michael Richardson of Chattanooga.

— Former gubernatorial legal counsel Dwight Tarwater of Knoxville.

New TNJ edition alert: Nashville council in the crosshairs and the latest on charters and vouchers

From our building to yours.

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

— Coming home to roost? Nashville girds itself for GOP retribution.

— Don’t call it a dumb-back: Hilldale-linked charters gear up for another go.

— New bill would expand voucher program to Hamilton County … and maybe Knox and Madison.

— Obituary: Ken Roberts, onetime primary opponent of Howard Baker.

Also:  Jeremy Durham loses appeal on record Registry penalties, mayoral candidate compares Nashville to the 1990s-era Chicago Bulls, Cade Cothren sues burger chain in salary dispute, and the worst kind of RINO rears its head.

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

Or subscribe here.

Kelsey law license suspended following guilty plea

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), right, attends a Senate Education Committee meeting in Nashville on April 16, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former state Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has had his law license suspended after pleading guilty to two federal felonies stemming from campaign finance crimes during his 2016 congressional bid.

Here’s the announcement from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility:

On December 8, 2022, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Brian Kirk Kelsey from the practice of law until further orders of the Court pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 22.3. Mr. Kelsey pled Guilty to two (2) felonies involving conspiracy to defraud the United States and aiding and abetting the acceptance of excessive contributions.

Pursuant to the Order of the Supreme Court, the matter has been referred to the Board to institute formal proceedings to determine the extent of the final discipline to be imposed upon Mr. Kelsey as a result of his plea of guilty to conduct constituting a serious crime as defined by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 2.

Mr. Kelsey must comply with the requirements of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9, Section 28, regarding the obligations and responsibilities of suspended attorneys.

Early Christmas? Lee administration announces pay raises for most executive branch workers

Gov. Bill Lee, center, attends a budget hearing in Nashville on Nov. 9, 2022. He is joined by Finance Commissioner Jim Bryson, right, and COO Brandon Gibson. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Nearly three-fourths of executive branch employees in Tennessee can look forward to pay raises when they receive their next paychecks on Dec. 15.

Human Resources Commissioner Juan Williams and Finance Commissioner outlined the pay hikes in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday:

Dear Honorable Members of the Tennessee General Assembly,

It is with tremendous excitement that we announce the implementation of a new salary structure for Executive Branch employees.

The changes result from a statewide compensation study conducted to evaluate the State of Tennessee’s competitiveness to attract and retain best-in-class talent. Over the past six weeks, agency HROs, CFOs, and compensation leaders across the Executive Branch have been preparing to implement this historic investment in our state’s workforce. We would like to thank each of you for providing the funds necessary to keep Tennessee State Government more competitive with current market conditions.

Today, employees will receive an email communication that aligns with one of the four salary adjustment outcomes listed below:

1. Employees being brought to the minimum+ 1% of their salary grade: “It has been determined that your current salary will be increased to align with the new salary structure. You will be brought to 1% above the minimum of your new salary grade. You will be able to view your new salary in Edison starting today, which will be reflected in your paycheck on December 15, 2022.”

2. Employees receiving an adjustment due to compression: “It has been determined that your current salary will be increased to align with the new salary structure. More specifically, your salary adjustment ensures an appropriate placement within the new range to account for compression and to maintain pay equity among employees based on proficiency levels and reporting relationships. You will be able to view your new salary in Edison starting today, which will be reflected in your paycheck on December 15, 2022.”

3. Employees currently paid a market competitive salary and not receiving an adjustment: “After a careful review of your current position and salary, we are pleased to inform you that you are currently paid at or above the competitive market rate for your role. Therefore, your next opportunity for a pay increase will coincide with your annual performance evaluation.”

4. Executive Branch employees currently paid based on a different salary structure and not receiving an adjustment: “Based on your current role or circumstance, there will be no impact on your compensation from the implementation of the new Executive Branch salary structure. As a reminder, compensation adjustments to your role are determined by a separate process. Therefore, this change does not impact your immediate compensation or opportunity for increases in the future.”

Due to the allocation of funds from the State Legislature, 73% of employees who fall under the new salary structure will receive a pay increase. This is a tremendous investment and positive step forward in attracting and retaining best-in-class talent to the State.

On behalf of the Executive Branch employees of the State of Tennessee, we want to thank you for all your support. We are excited about the State’s investment in its people and showing them that the State of Tennessee is a great place to work.


Juan Williams, Commissioner of Human Resources, and Jim Bryson, Commissioner of Finance and Administrations

Visitations, memorial service for Honey Alexander to be held this weekend

(Image credit: Alexander family)

Visitations and a memorial service for former first lady Honey Alexander are scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Nashville.

Alexander, who was married to former governor and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander for 53 years, died in October at age 77.

A visitation will be held on Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Honey Alexander Center at 2400 Clifton Avenue. Another visitation will take place on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral at 900 Broadway, followed by a memorial service at 3 p.m.

Read the family obituary here.

Sexton’s chief of staff leaving for private sector

Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) speaks to colleagues on the House floor in Nashville on Oct. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State House Speaker Cameron Sexton’s chief of staff, Sammie Arnold, is informing colleagues and lawmakers he is leaving for the private sector.

Sexton (R-Crossville) hired Arnold, then an assistant commissioner at the Department of Economic and Community Development, in September 2021. The chief of staff position had been open since Scott Gilmer left in January 2020. Holt Whitt had served as interim chief until he was questioned by FBI agents in connection with a raid on the homes of three lawmakers’ homes and offices in January 2021. Whitt was placed on leave while the investigation was underway. He was hired as a senior adviser in the state Department of Human Resources the following July after obtaining a letter from prosecutors saying he was considered a witness in the Phoenix Solutions case that led to the guilty plea and resignation of Rep. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) and indictment of former Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin).

Arnold is a Dyersburg native who previously worked as a legislative liaison in Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration and on the Republican’s 2010 campaign. Arnold is married to Gov. Bill Lee’s former communications director Laine Arnold.

New TNJ edition alert: Kelsey prison time math, House leadership votes, Funding Board goes low

Then-Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and former 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:

— Feds: Contrition key to Kelsey avoiding extra prison time following guilty plea, former lawmaker admits deeds were ‘no accident.’

— State House Republicans stick mostly to status quo, Dems select new caucus chair.

— Funding board goes with extra low revenue projections. Again.

— Gov. Bill Lee’s administration makes its pick on “choice” lanes, hike in EV fees.

Also: Bob Corker says he doesn’t miss it, Beth Harwell chases Belle Meade burglar, Bill Lee hires a Kentucky state senator to run Health Department, Jeremy Durham gets a trial date.

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

Or subscribe here.


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