Monthly Archives: April 2023

See you in August? Lee’s special session call faces delays

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters after a bill signing ceremony in Nashville on May 24, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee made a big splash by announcing the night the legislature adjourned for the year that he was going to call lawmakers back into a special session to take up his proposal to curb access to firearms by people with significant mental problems. Many expected the governor to issue the call by the middle of May.

But amid tepid support for the Lee’s proposed language, several Republicans tell The Tennessee Journal they now expect the special session won’t take place until August – or even September.

Even Lee’s backers are wary of having the measure labeled a “red flag” law, which gun rights supporters argue infringe on Second Amendment rights. Democratic President Joe Biden didn’t help matters for Tennessee Republicans when he commended Lee in the aftermath of the Covenant School shooting for expanding background checks and “calling on the Tennessee statehouse to pass a red flag law.”

GOP leaders in the House and Senate are understood to have warned Lee that calling them into session next month would result in either the bill failing outright – or enough absences to deny a quorum for proceedings to get underway.

It remains to be seen whether Lee takes heed of concerns raised by lawmakers or presses ahead with a bill even if it’s doomed to failure. Lee and his wife, Maria, were close friends of one of the teachers fatally shot at the Covenant School and may want to demonstrate they were willing to try to do something, even if lawmakers don’t go along. Some observers liken the situation to when Gov. Bill Haslam pressed ahead with his Medicaid expansion proposal in 2015 despite a widespread recognition that it was unlikely to pass.

New TNJ edition alert: Handing out awards before Lee calls lawmakers back for another go

With state lawmakers returning home after completing a tumultuous legislative session, the latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is handing out some prizes including:

— Rookies of the Year.

— Bruce Griffey Prize for Legislative Futility.

— Best Leak.

— Revolving Door Award.

— Men Without Hats Prize.

Also: Gary Humble is refusing to cooperate with a campaign finance audit, Marjorie Taylor Greene takes aim at Mark Green, hearing scheduled on Brian Kelsey’s bid to withdraw guilty plea, and Adam Lowe’s hot (mic) take on the attractiveness of gun protesters at the Capitol.

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

Or subscribe here.

Justice Department sues to block Tennessee’s transgender surgery law

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing to block a new Tennessee state law banning transgender surgical procedures for minors. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson, an appointee President Donald Trump.

“Tennessee is committed to protecting children from permanent, life-altering decisions,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement. “This is federal overreach at its worst, and we will work with Attorney General Skrmetti to push back in court and stand up for children.”

U.S District Judge Thomas L. Parker of Memphis, another Trump appointee, last month blocked the implementation of another law seeking to ban obscene drag shows from being performed in public or where children are present.

Here’s the release from the Justice Department:

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a complaint challenging Tennessee Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), a recently enacted law that denies necessary medical care to youth based solely on who they are. The complaint alleges that SB 1’s ban on providing certain medically necessary care to transgender minors violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The department is also asking the court to issue an immediate order to prevent the law from going into effect on July 1, 2023.

SB 1 makes it unlawful to provide or offer to provide certain types of medical care for transgender minors with diagnosed gender dysphoria. SB 1’s blanket ban prohibits potential treatment options that have been recommended by major medical associations for consideration in limited circumstances in accordance with established and comprehensive guidelines and standards of care. By denying only transgender youth access to these forms of medically necessary care while allowing non-transgender minors access to the same or similar procedures, SB 1 discriminates against transgender youth. The department’s complaint alleges that SB 1 violates the Equal Protection Clause by discriminating on the basis of both sex and transgender status. Doctors, parents and anyone else who provides or offers to provide the prohibited care faces the possibility of civil suits for 30 years and other sanctions.

“No person should be denied access to necessary medical care just because of their transgender status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The right to consider your health and medically-approved treatment options with your family and doctors is a right that everyone should have, including transgender children, who are especially vulnerable to serious risks of depression, anxiety and suicide. The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department will continue to aggressively challenge all forms of discrimination and unlawful barriers faced by the LGBTQI+ community.”

“SB1 violates the constitutional rights of some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Henry Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee. “Left unchallenged, it would prohibit transgender children from receiving health care that their medical providers and their parents have determined to be medically necessary. In doing so, the law seeks to substitute the judgment of trained medical professionals and parents with that of elected officials and codifies discrimination against children who already face far too many obstacles.”

Today’s filings are the latest action by the Justice Department to combat LGBTQI+ discrimination, including unlawful restrictions on medical care for transgender youth. On March 31, 2022, Assistant Attorney General Clarke issued a letter to all state attorneys general reminding them of federal constitutional and statutory provisions that protect transgender youth against discrimination. On April 29, 2022, the Justice Department intervened in a lawsuit challenging a law in Alabama (Senate Bill 184) that imposes a felony ban on medically necessary care for transgender minors. As a result of that litigation, the most significant provisions of Alabama’s Senate Bill 184 have been preliminarily halted from going into effect, and the United States continues to challenge its constitutionality.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division’s work to uphold and protect the civil and constitutional rights of LGBTQI+ individuals is available on its website at Complaints about discriminatory practices may be reported to the Civil Rights Division through its internet reporting portal at

Gov. Bill Lee touts legislative victories, glosses over setbacks

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)

Gov. Bill Lee is touting his legislative victories in a press release Monday morning. They include his $3.3 billion roads plan, $1 billion to add and upgrade Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, and $400 million in tax cuts.

The governor didn’t get everything he wanted. For example, lawmakers reduced his $100 million ask for crisis pregnancy centers to $20 million, cut in half his planned 200% match for executive branch workers, and stopped $9 million in state employee salary hikes.

Here is the release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Friday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee marked the close of the 2023 legislative session, which includes the successful passage of his $56.2 billion budget and full legislative agenda as outlined during his State of the State address in February.

“To prepare Tennessee for continued growth and prosperity, we’ve made strategic investments to cut taxes, strengthen our workforce, ensure educational opportunity and modernize transportation infrastructure across our state,” said Lee. “I commend the General Assembly for its partnership to pass conservative measures and maintain Tennessee’s reputation for strong fiscal stewardship.”

Lee’s agenda included the landmark Transportation Modernization Act, historic legislation that will create a new transportation strategy and invest $3.3 billion to accommodate Tennessee’s record growth, address traffic congestion and meet transportation needs across rural and urban communities without raising taxes or taking on debt.

The roster of budget and legislative priorities also dedicated $250 million to Tennessee’s Rainy Day Fund, bringing totals to an historic $2.05 billion, and included significant investments in tax relief, K-12 education, Tennessee’s skilled workforce and conservation. Notably, Lee led a comprehensive school safety proposal to enhance physical security in public and non-public schools across Tennessee.

Highlights from Lee’s agenda include the following:

Transportation & Infrastructure Modernization
• $3 billion to the Transportation Modernization Fund to alleviate urban congestion and fund rural road projects across the state, which includes $750 million allocated to each of Tennessee’s four TDOT regions
• $300 million to expand the State Aid Program for local road projects, allocating 15 times more funding toward local communities than they receive each year for transportation projects
• Ensures that Tennessee has the resources necessary to meet current and future transportation needs by engaging in Public-Private Partnerships (P3s), Alternative Delivery Models and Electric/Hybrid vehicle fee parity

Economic Opportunity & Tax Relief
• More than $400 million in tax cuts for Tennessee families and businesses through the Tennessee Works Tax Act, one of the largest tax relief measures in Tennessee history
• $273 million for a one-time, three-month sales tax holiday on grocery items, providing tax relief for Tennessee families
• More than $150 million in annual small business tax relief, including raising the exemption threshold for the business tax, exempting the first $50,000 of net income from excise tax and protecting the first $500,000 in property investment from the franchise tax
• $64 million to simplify tax administration and conform with the federal bonus depreciation provisions of 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, allowing businesses to more quickly recover costs and further incentivize investment in Tennessee production
• Provides foundation for supporting Tennessee’s continued economic growth, aligning Tennessee with more than 30 states by adopting “single sales factor” apportionment for franchise and excise tax

Skilled Workforce
• Nearly $1 billion to complete the TCAT Master Plan to improve 16 existing TCATs, replace seven outdated facilities and build six brand new TCATs at strategic locations across Tennessee

Enhanced School Safety Measures
• $30 million for more than 100 Homeland Security agents across all 95 counties to serve Tennesseans and students in both public and non-public schools
• $140 million for one full-time, armed School Resource Officer (SRO) for every public school
• $40 million for public school security upgrades
• $14 million for private school security upgrades
• $8 million for additional School-Based Behavioral Health Liaisons across the state
• Enacts a multi-tiered accountability plan to ensure exterior doors are locked while students are present
• Requires that private security guards receive active shooter training prior to being posted at schools
• Requires every school district to establish threat assessment teams to ensure students are connected to support services and behavioral health professionals when appropriate
• Requires every public and private school to develop annual safety plans, including a newly required incident command drill for school leaders and law enforcement

Great Schools
• $350 million in additional funding to local education agencies through Tennessee Investment in Student Achievement (TISA)
• Combined with $750 million in the base budget, new recurring state funding for the education formula totals more than $1 billion
• Includes $125 million for teacher pay raises
• Increases the minimum teacher salary to $50,000 by 2026, making Tennessee a top-10 state for teacher pay in the nation, and protects teachers and taxpayers by ensuring school districts no longer collect union dues
• Includes funding to extend summer learning camps and expand the eligibility age to Kindergarten through 9th grade

Strong & Healthy Families
• $330 million in shared savings under our first-in-the-nation TennCare Medicaid waiver will help provide for the health of mothers and infants in our most vulnerable communities, providing care at no additional burden to Tennessee taxpayers that will:
• Cover the cost of diapers during the first two years of a baby’s life for mothers on TennCare, becoming the first state in the nation to support parents in this way
• Expand TennCare to underserved parents, supporting an extra 8,100 parents each year
• Establish continuous coverage for children, ensuring no lapse in coverage for children for at least a year, which will help an estimated 10,000 children remain enrolled
• Make permanent Tennessee’s post-partum coverage benefit, ensuring a full year of TennCare coverage to support approximately 3,000 new mothers every year
• Adjust TennCare’s income threshold for pregnant women to 250% of the federal poverty level to cover an additional 2,400 new mothers in need every year
• $20 million for Crisis Pregnancy Provider Support Grants to support crisis pregnancy non-profits, improving access to healthcare and information for expecting mothers
• $10.25 million for TN Fosters Hope grant funding to elevate high quality care for children and families impacted by foster care and adoption, allowing providers to expand services to foster and adoptive families
• $29 million to expand programming for children with complex or special needs that face challenges being placed in a traditional foster or adoptive home by further developing the provider network and providing respite and long-term care

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New TNJ edition: Lawmakers beat hasty retreat, redistricting trial, and feds pan Kelsey’s motion

Protesters hold up signs in the gallery during a House floor session on April 6, 2023. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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

— GOP lawmakers beating hasty retreat amid scandals, setbacks.

— Redistricting trial: Judges to decide if House, Senate maps pass constitutional muster.

— The Kelsey chronicles: Feds urge judge not to let ‘highly sophisticated’ ex-senator renege.

Also: GOP robocall denounces ‘Antifa mob’ during Capitol gun protests, Marsha Blackburn’s big first-quarter haul, a House memorial for the late state Rep. Barbara Cooper, and something smells at the airport.

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

Or subscribe here.

Read the language of the ‘extreme risk’ amendment backed by Lee

The Tennessean‘s Melissa Brown reports Gov. Bill Lee is backing an “extreme risk” order of protection bill to block access to firearms for up to 180 days for people who might be a harm to others. The move comes in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville.

“We all agree that dangerous, unstable individuals who intend to harm themselves or others should not have access to weapons,” Lee said in a recorded video statement. “And that should be done in a way that requires due process and a high burden of proof, supports law enforcement and punishes false reporting, enhances mental health support, and preserves the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens.”

UPDATE: House Republicans don’t seem particularly interested in pursuing the measure:

Here is the proposed language of the measure:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13, is amended by adding the following new sections:


As used in this section and §§ 39-17-1368 – 39-17-1377:

(1)          “Mental illness” means a psychiatric disorder, alcohol dependence, or drug dependence, but does not include intellectual disability or other developmental disabilities;

(2)          “Serious behavioral condition” means a condition in a person who currently or at any time during the past year has had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet psychiatric diagnostic criteria that results in functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits the person’s role or functioning in family, school, occupational, or community activities and includes any mental disorder, regardless of whether it is of biological etiology;

(3)          “Serious emotional disturbance” means the same as defined in § 33- 1-101; and

(4)          “Substantial likelihood of serious harm”:

(A)          Means the respondent does one (1) or more of the following, as evidenced by a substantial step toward the commission of a violent or unlawful act:

(i)            Threatens or attempts suicide or to inflict serious bodily harm on the respondent’s self;

 (ii)          Threatens or attempts homicide or other violent behavior against another; or

(iii)          Places another in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm; and

(B)          Shall not be found based solely on:

(i)            The mere possession of firearms or ammunition that a person lawfully owns or possesses;

(ii)           The commission of any act of self-defense or defense of another that is lawfully justified under § 39-11-611 or § 39-11- 612; or

(iii)          The fact that a person, including, but not limited to, a veteran of the United States armed forces, is receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.



(1)          There is created an action known as a petition for a temporary mental health order of protection, which may only be filed by a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency.

(2)          A petition for a temporary mental health order of protection:

(A)          Must be filed in the county where the respondent resides;

(B)          Does not require the petitioner to be represented by an attorney or post a bond and cannot result in an award of attorney fees;

(C)          Must allege that the respondent poses a substantial likelihood of serious harm by having a firearm or any ammunition in the respondent’s custody or control or by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or any ammunition, and must be accompanied by a sworn statement providing the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to the petition;

(D)          Identify whether there is a known existing order of protection governing the respondent under title 36, chapter 3, part 6 or under any other applicable statute; and

(E)          Include a physical description of the respondent and the respondent’s last known location.

(3)          The petitioner must make a good faith effort to provide notice of the petition to any known third party who the petitioner asserts in the petition may be at risk of violence.

(4)          A court or a public agency shall not charge fees for filing or for service of process to a petitioner seeking relief under this section.


(A)          Except as provided in subdivision (a)(5)(B), the general sessions courts, circuit courts, and chancery courts of this state have jurisdiction over proceedings under this section.

(B)          The juvenile courts of this state have jurisdiction over proceedings brought against minors under this section.


(1)          Upon receipt of a petition, the court must order:

(A)          A hearing to be held at least three (3) days but no later than five (5) days after the date the petition is filed and must issue a notice of hearing to the respondent. The hearing may be held more than five (5) days after the petition is filed, only at the request of the respondent, but in no event should the hearing be held more than ten (10) days after the petition is filed;


(i)            The appointment of an attorney to represent the respondent. The respondent may elect to employ an attorney of the respondent’s choosing, who should file a notice of appearance with the clerk of the court. A court-appointed attorney shall be paid for services by the administrative office of the courts at the rate set in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 13; and

(ii)           If the court determines based on the petition that the respondent is not able to understand the nature of the proceedings and cannot communicate with counsel in the conduct of the case or if the respondent is a minor, then the court may appoint another person to serve as the respondent’s guardian ad litem. An attorney representing the respondent shall not serve as guardian ad litem; and

(C)          The respondent to undergo an assessment for suicidal or homicidal ideation by an evaluator who has been certified by the commissioner of mental health and substance abuse services, which must occur prior to the hearing. When making this determination, the evaluator and the evaluator’s employer are immune from any civil liability and have an affirmative defense to any criminal liability arising from the evaluation.

(2)          The clerk of the court shall cause a copy of the petition and the order setting a hearing, appointing counsel, and requiring an assessment to be forwarded on or before the next business day to the appropriate law enforcement agency for service upon the respondent as provided in § 39-17-1369.

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Poll: Nashville voters say ‘dealing with legislature’ will be priority for next mayor

A new Vanderbilt poll finds nearly nine in 10 Nashville voters agree that “dealing with the state legislature” will be a priority for the city’s next mayor. About 56% said they believe the capital city is on the wrong track — about twice as many as when the school first started asking the question of voters in 2017.

Fifty-two percent said they oppose a deal to build a $2.1 billion domed football stadium. Support was highest among those identified as Republican (53%) and lowest among Democrats (47%). Independents fell in the middle (50%). The Metro Council on Tuesday night advanced the stadium deal to a final vote.

The poll of 1,016 adults was conducted between March 13 and April 6. Forty-three percent of respondents said they were Democrats, 16% Republicans, and 29% independent. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Here’s the full polling memo from Vanderbilt:

and important),

For the second year running, the Vanderbilt Poll–Nashville shows more than half of respondents believe the city is on the wrong track. From the start of the Nashville poll, in 2015, until 2021, Nashvillians viewed the city as on the right track. This trend is amplified by a plurality of respondents indicating the growth of the city is making their quality of life worse, rather than better or having no effect.

However, other measures within the poll could indicate the sources of dissatisfaction are more complex than the issues that may first come to mind.

“While the trend toward concern for the future of Nashville is clear, the origins of the concern are not,” said Josh Clinton, co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll, who holds the Abby and Jon Winkelried Chair and is a professor of political science. “Even though 56% think the city is on the wrong track, 59% also approve of the job Mayor John Cooper is doing.  This suggests that concerns beyond the mayor’s control and likely related to concerns about growth, public education, and the increasing tension between Nashville and the state government are affecting people’s optimism about the future of our city.”

The fifty-six percent who think the city is on the wrong track is more than double those who thought the same in 2017. Similarly, 47 percent say Nashville’s growth is making their day-to-day life worse—just under double the number in 2017.

Yet, respondents’ views about Nashville’s economy and feelings of safety walking in their own neighborhoods have both been generally flat for three years, and views about the rapid growth of Nashville’s population have been flat for five years. Daily commute times are comparable to 2017, though that is likely a result of the dramatic increase in those working from home (15 percent in 2023 versus 3 percent in 2017).

“Views about Nashville’s economy are deeply split by income,” said John Geer, co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll, Ginny and Conner Searcy Dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of political science. “Overall, two-thirds think the economy is very or fairly good, but if you look at those making less than $45,000 a year, that number falls to 44 percent.”

What is clear is that how long a respondent has lived in Nashville and their age deeply influence views of the city’s trajectory. 

Those who have lived here for 20 or fewer years are evenly divided about the city being on the right or wrong track, but 63 percent of those who have lived here longer than 20 years view the city to be on the wrong track. Of those aged 18–34, 50 percent view Nashville to be on the right track while that number falls to 29 percent among those 55–64. Neither household income nor party affiliation changed views of right track versus wrong track.

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State GOP names own panel to oversee disputed leadership vote in Williamson County

Tracy Miller, right, and his brother, Andy Miller Jr., attend Tennessee Registry of Election Finance meeting in Nashville on Oct. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

The state Republican Party has stepped into named a special committee to oversee a disputed leadership election in Williamson County after the previous panel resigned in protest.

The new panel includes several who are close to state executive committee members Cindi Miller, who has declined to recuse herself from proceedings while her husband, Tracy Miller, seeks the chairmanship of the local party.

Officials in Williamson County had wanted to enforce the state GOP rules limiting participation in the convention to bona fide party members — i.e., those who have voted in three of the last four primaries — or those who had voted in at least two nomination contests and had written letter from party leaders vouching for them. But Cindi Miller and the state party favored an additional process by which anyone can be vouched for by any member of the state or local executive committee, regardless of past primary voting or party involvement. Critics worry the change will allow Miller to approve or reject voters to her husband’s election contest.

UPDATE: Tracy Miller won the election. Party Chair Scott Golden said a record 609 people voted.

Following the decision, four members of the Williamson County executive committee resigned, including Trey Jones (a staffer for the state Senate’s Government Operations Committee), Annie Osteen, Kilynn Schueler, and Chad Story. Another member, Rachelle McCalmon (the wife of freshman Rep. Jake McCalmon of Franklin), had stepped down earlier.

Here’s the email sent out by the state GOP on Sunday evening.

Dear Williamson County Republicans,

The TNGOP wishes to inform you of the official proceedings regarding the 2023 Williamson GOP Reorganization. 

The previous contest and credentials committee resigned yesterday. While unfortunate, it is the duty of the Tennessee Republican Party to make sure the election process is unhindered and continues to run smoothly. With that, we are happy to announce the hard-working members who stood up to be a part of the new Contest and Credentials Committee. Their names are as follows:

Brenda Davis

Sandi Wells

Holly Ramsey 

Romonte Hamer 

Linda Kollmann 

Judy Oxford

David Grimmett as parliamentarian

The details for the reorganization are the same and are as follows: 

Tuesday, April 18th

Doors open at 4:45 – close at 5:45 p.m.

The convention will begin promptly at 6:00 pm

The Factory at Franklin

Liberty Hall

230 Franklin Rd.

Franklin, TN 37064

Pre-Register for the Convention NOTE: In order to ensure a timely check-in process, we request anyone who plans on attending the convention and has not already done so to pre-register HERE

Convention Voting Eligibility Criteria:

1. Current Williamson County registered voter and resident.

2. Must be actively involved in the state or county Republican party or a recognized Republican auxiliary organization of either.

3. Have voted in at least 3 of the last 4 statewide primary elections: (August 2022, August 2020, March 2020, August 2018).

4.  Voters that did not vote in the 3 of the 4 statewide primary elections will have to be vouched for by any member of the Williamson GOP Executive Committee to the satisfaction of the Williamson GOP State Executive Members.  

We are looking forward to having such excitement surrounding a county election. This shows that the Republican Party continues to grow and develop with each passing day. If anyone has any questions, please contact Tyler Burns at [redacted]. Thanks and have a wonderful Sunday.

Trump lands endorsements among Tenn. congressional delegation

Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Bill Hagerty of Nashville are backing Donald Trump’s renewed presidential bid. Also announcing their support this weekend were U.S. Reps. Diana Harshbarger of Kingsport and John Rose of Cookeville.

UPDATE: Trump announced his 2024 Tennessee Federal Leadership Team also includes Reps. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga) and Mark Green (R-Ashland City), along with former Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-Knoxville). Uncommitted so far are Reps. David Kustoff (R-Memphis), Scott DesJarlais (R-Sherwood), Andy Ogles (R-Columbia), and Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville).

Here’s what they had to say:

Under President Trump, our economy was booming, gas prices were low, and inflation was under control. Our border was secure, our adversaries feared us, & our military was strong.   I am proud to endorse Donald Trump for President and can’t wait until he’s back in the White House.

— Marsha Blackburn

It is my honor to give my whole-hearted endorsement to Donald J. Trump to be the next President of the United States. I was honored to previously serve in his Administration. Under President Trump, our border was secure, our nation was energy independent, & we witnessed a Blue-Collar Boom that lifted up American workers of all backgrounds. Under President Trump’s leadership, we engaged with strength, & we encouraged our allies to stand strong with us.

— Bill Hagerty

We can return to the conservative values and leadership that once made America great. President Donald J. Trump has a proven track record of delivering results and putting America first. He has done it before, and he can do it again. As an American who values proven leadership, I am proud to give my complete and full endorsement to President Trump.

— Diana Harshbarger

Under Biden’s leadership, America is weaker than ever. Under President Trump, our economy was strong, our border was secure, and our conservative principles and freedoms were protected. In 2024, it is imperative that we elect a leader that projects strength. That’s why I am endorsing Donald Trump for President.”

— John Rose

Williamson County GOP officials resign over alleged ‘self-dealing’ in leadership contest

Tracy Miller, right, and his brother, Andy Miller Jr., attend Tennessee Registry of Election Finance meeting in Nashville on Oct. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

Officials responsible for putting together a leadership election for the Williamson County Republican Party have resigned over what they are calling “fraud, misconduct, and corrupt self-dealing” by state GOP leadership and state executive committee members Steve Allbrooks and Cindi Miller. The latter is the wife of Tracy Miller, who is seeking to become the new chair.

“The Contest and Credentials Committee has resolved that we will not lend our reputations to a corrupt reorganization process that deviates from our stated standards and bylaws, and the outcome of which will be incurably tainted by the breach of trust that produced it,” the committee said in a Saturday email obtained by The Tennessee Journal.

Tracy Miller is the brother of Andy Miller, who is identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal campaign finance conspiracy case against former state Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown). The Miller brothers in 2016 agreed to pay $7.75 million to settle allegations they defrauded the federal military healthcare program through a pharmaceutical business they ran in Florida. Several state lawmakers, including former Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin), a fellow unindicted co-conspirator in the Kelsey indictment, invested into Miller companies using campaign funds.

The appointed members of the Williamson County GOP’s contest and credentials committee wanted to require participants in next week’s convention to adhere to state party rules for bona fide Republicans, i.e., those who had voted in at least three of the last four primaries. But they said they were told those restrictions were “not set in stone” and individual cases would be decided solely by members of of the state executive committee. Cindi Miller has refused to recuse herself despite what the local party officials call a “clear conflict of interest” over her husband’s candidacy, “essentially allowing her to handpick her husband’s voters.”

Cheryl Brown, the Williamson County GOP’s first black chair, had planned to run again. But it’s now uncertain she will seek another term.

“As currently positioned, the scheduled mass convention is subject to legitimate allegations of fraud, self-dealing, and manipulation,” the letter said.

The group wants Tuesday’s convention either canceled or rescheduled. State GOP Chair Scott Golden did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

Read the full missive here:

Williamson County Republicans,

It is with profound disappointment that we, the duly appointed members of the Williamson County Republican Party (W.C.R.P.) Contest and Credentials Committee, must inform you that we can no longer guarantee a fair and legitimate election for county party officers in the upcoming reorganization convention. Due to the bad-faith actions of the leadership of the Tennessee Republican Party (T.R.P.) and State Executive Committee members Cyndi Miller and Steve Allbrooks, we cannot, in good conscience, offer our acquiescence to a rigged and deceptive process that deliberately undermines the rights of lifelong, loyal Republicans in Williamson County to an orderly and credible county convention that adheres to proper rules and bylaws.

Our duties to our Party and its members are outlined in our written and published bylaws, and we have made every effort to adhere to the same in investing our time, money, and labor to planning and promoting the upcoming reorganization convention. Through either intentional acts or general indifference, T.R.P. officials have required us to deviate from the stated guidelines for determining the bona fide status for voting members, stripped the Contest and Credentials Committee from our obligation and ultimate authority to determine the same, and, in turn, empowered State Executive Committee members Mrs. Miller and Mr. Allbrooks with the ultimate authority to employ undefined and arbitrary standards for determining who has the right to vote and participate in our county party convention.

Although the existing T.R.P. and W.C.R.P. bylaws identify clear criteria for determining the “bona fide Republican” status of individuals based upon voting history and active involvement with the Party, including requiring a voting history of participation in 3 out of the last 4 Statewide Republican primaries, officials with the Tennessee Republican Party informed the W.C.R.P. that these stated criteria were not set in stone and that the final determination of bona fide status – regardless of voting history or scope of active involvement – would rest solely with the State Executive Committee. In an attempt to establish clear, predictable, and evenly-applied standards regarding the rules for who may be admitted as a “bona fide Republican” to participate in the convention and to provide the standards to our members well before the day of the convention, the Contest & Credentials Committee met with our district State Executive Committee members Mrs. Miller, Mr. Allbrooks, W.C.R.P.’s Executive Committee, and T.R.P. staff on March 21, 2023. At this meeting, all parties came to a consensus agreement on the specific eligibility criteria that the T.R.P. and State Executive Committee members would honor and that the Contest and Credentials Committee would use to notify voters of their eligibility status.

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