Lee administration giving conservative activists jump on public releases

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters outside the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Want to know what Gov. Bill Lee’s administration is up to before the general public? Find a way to get on the mailing list of the Republican’s external affairs director. That’s not to be confused with the governor’s communications office, which handles traditional media releases and the likes.

Lee’s External Affairs Director Joseph Williams last week emailed activists to inform them about “a key conservative priority” by the governor to ban China-backed Confucius Institutes at public universities and require transparency for other foreign gifts and investments. The correspondence included a copy of a press release that would be sent out the public and media two hours later.

Here’s the email:

From: Joseph Williams
Subject: Governor Lee’s Transparency In Foreign Investment Act
Date: March 16, 2021 at 12:08:45 PM CDT

The Governor wanted y’all to get news on this before we issue a press release. This continues to be a key conservative priority moving forward.
Let me know if you have any follow-up questions. Best,

Joseph Williams| Director of External Affairs

One recipient was thrilled to hear it, encouraging like-minded folks to send Williams an “attaboy for a job well done,” especially given past policy differences with Lee over COVID-19 mitigation, the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust at the Capitol, and Black Lives Matter protests in Nashville.

Lee appears to be have ramped up his partisan rhetoric in advance of next year’s re-election campaign, but his use of government resources to reach out to potential voters is raising eyebrows among political observers.

9 Responses to Lee administration giving conservative activists jump on public releases

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    Beatrice Shaw says:

    This is meaningless. Most likely a backfired PR stunt What’s wrong with an institution of higher learning coming to Tennessee anyway? Sounds like a racist move to oppose this.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      And a big tres for the Lady Race Baiters as Beatrice Shaw takes an article about Lee’s public relations which briefly mentions Lee’s attempt to remove Red Chinese financed propaganda from out public universities and hits with a shot way outside of the article topic by bringing up that leftist standby “racism.” Good shot Beatrice.

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      Jepson Fleenor says:

      I like how you try to turn a blind eye to this by calling it meaningless then attempting to spin any opposition as racist.

      Did you get that tactic directly from the fascist handbook?

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        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Old Conservative Stuart with his bag of shiny objects that he throws out there for distractions. It gets old but that is how those conservatives operate, including our Governor. Just more from the republican bag of dirty tricks. It may turn out like so many other tactics they use in TN and be ruled as illegal or at least unethical. It does not surprise so many of us but it is annoying… and we all know what happens to annoying politicians eventually.

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          Cryan says:

          We all know Stuart made an Aunt Beatrice account for whatever fascist PR crusade he’s on. Nobody is that stupid and he’s fooling noone.

          Notice how it’s always about race, too.

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    Jason Wallflower says:

    Joseph Williams is probably the biggest reason why there is now a democrat in Beth Harwell’s seat.

    Made the eventual nominee spend thousands of dollars needlessly even though people around the state were telling him to back out of the race and that the primary was un-winnable.

    Way to go Joseph, way to go.

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    Donna Locke says:

    Well, I didn’t get this memo, but my Republican state representative, Scott Cepicky, told China not long ago that Tennessee is “open for business.” I guess that means a lot of us will end up with Chinese bosses.

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