Complaint: Beavers illegally diverted gubernatorial campaign funds to her mayoral campaign

Former state Sen.  Mae Beavers used $122,123 in leftover money from her abandoned gubernatorial campaign to fund a new political action committee and the PAC then donated $7,800 to her new campaign for Wilson County mayor, according to a disclosure report filed Monday by Patriot PAC. The Tennessean reports that Beavers refunded the contribution on Wednesday, but a a complaint has been filed contending the move amounted to an “illegal conduit” that violated state campaign finance laws.

Patriot PAC was created with Beavers’ money as its only receipt so far and with her husband, Jerry, listed as vice chairman, according to Registry of Election Finance filings. Besides the $7,800 to Mae Beavers’ mayoral campaign, the PAC also gave $31,000 to Freedom PAC  and  $25,500 to a group called Concerned Constitutional Conservatives PAC.

The Murfreesboro-based PAC, which formed in 2016, gave Beavers a $7,800 contribution as an individual two days before receiving the donation from Patriot PAC.

…Beavers said she had spoken with Rawlins, who told her Patriot PAC needed to establish itself with additional donors before she could accept funds from it for her mayoral election.  (Drew Rawlins is executive director of the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.)

“They have to establish themselves as a PAC and that they’re not just a conduit,” Beavers said, adding she would be returning the $7,800 contribution.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to make it legal,” she said.

On Wednesday, Patriot PAC amended its campaign finance report to no longer show the contribution to Beavers’ mayoral effort.

Despite the move, Ann Calabria, a Wilson County Election Commissioner and former president of the Mt. Juliet Republican Women, filed a complaint Wednesday over the various contributions with state officials.

“I believe the facts above show Mae Beavers violated (the law) by creating an illegal conduit from her gubernatorial campaign to her county mayor campaign,” Calabria wrote.

Beavers’ latest gubernatorial campaign disclosure also indicates she continued to pay for web design and social media, consulting and a communications director after dropping out of governor’s race on Jan. 30.

Such expenses were related to her statewide effort, not her run for county mayor, she said.

Both before and after dropping out of the governor’s race, Beavers denied that she was planning to run for local office.

Such speculation was stoked when Beavers’ raised less than $200,000 while seeking the GOP nomination for governor.

As she previously said, Beavers denied that she was planning to run for county mayor all along.

“People can say anything they want to. I did not plan on running for county mayor. I think I always made that clear,” she said Tuesday.

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