On GOP grumbles over Haslam naming TN ‘George Soros’ to TSU board

Some Republicans are unhappy with Gov. Bill Haslam’s appointment of Bill Freeman – “the George Soros of state Democrats” – to the Tennessee State University Board of Trustees, according to Victor Ashe.

Freeman has, indeed, been a generous donor to Democratic causes, notably including this year a $100,000 contribution to the House Democratic Caucus (which, of course, is dedicated to defeating Republican legislators). And there’s much speculation that he’ll run for the Democratic nomination as governor in 2018 – either that or the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Bob Corker.

He was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Nashville in 2015, when he spent $3.6 million. He is the single largest donor to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Tennessee. Former Democratic Party chair Chip Forrester is now employed by him. The Clintons (both Bill and Hillary) have been hosted three times at the Freeman home in Nashville.

He is truly the George Soros of state Democrats.

…In the eyes of Republican lawmakers, there is dismay that Haslam would name the most prominent and liberal Democratic fundraiser in the state to a nonpartisan position. They will ask how much time will Freeman spend helping TSU if he is also running for governor? Will he push the Hillary Clinton higher education agenda while on the board?

On the other hand, he genuinely is a champion of TSU, which needs all the help it can secure. He would be an active TSU advocate.

It is not clear how the confirmation hearings by the House and Senate will occur and what questions, if any, will be posed to nominees. Will they be asked about their education philosophy, any financial conflicts they might have, disclosure of income as required at the federal level?

The law establishing these new boards says that any nominee is approved unless the House and Senate by resolution disapprove. As a practical matter that would be tough to do and the governor could veto such a resolution.

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