Legendary lobbyist Tom Hensley dies at 80

Lobbyist Tom Hensely, center, is seen outside Legislative Plaza in Nashville on Jan. 8, 2019. He is joined by fellow lobbyists Ryan Haynes, left, and Rich Foge. (Image Credit: State of Tennessee)

Tom Hensley, the legendary lobbyist known as “The Golden Goose,” has died. Hensley had been hospitalized in Nashville for two moths after sustaining a head injury in a fall. He passed away after being moved to a rehabilitation center in Decaturvillle on Friday. He was 80 years old.

Hensley began his lobbying career in the 1960s and was a ubiquitous presence at the Capitol complex, wearing his trademark three-piece suit, chomping on a cigar, and sitting in the front row of committee meetings. Hensley was best known for his work for the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee, especially during an era when state law allowed him to supply lawmakers with free bottles of alcohol and pick up the tab at restaurants and bars.

Hensley was joined in lobbying the liquor wholesalers association in 2016 by Ryan Haynes, a former lawmaker and onetime state Republican Party chairman.


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