A political ‘pay-to-play’ system in place for state House Republican Caucus?

The state House Republican Caucus is calling on every GOP representative to give the caucus political fund at least $1,000 with substantially higher amounts set for leadership positions and committee chairs, reports Tennessee Star, which characterizes the document it has published as creating a “pay-to-play” system. A memo says it’s supposed to produce $267,500 in funds for Republican legislative candidates.

The Star is in receipt of the “Due Schedule” document that came out of a late August Sunday morning Republican House Member Caucus meeting, the timing of which coincided with Sunday worship and summer vacation for many.

The “Due Schedule” cites that every Republican House Member must pay dues of $1,000 each. With Republicans holding the super majority 74 of 99 seats, the baseline Member dues results in an initial fund raising total of $74,000 for the Caucus.

… Dues for each of the twelve “Leadership” positions, to be paid in addition to the Member dues, are itemized as follows:

Speaker of the House – $9,000

Deputy Speaker – $6,500

Speaker Pro Tempore – $9,000

Republican Leader – $9,000

Caucus Chairman – $9,000

Assistant Republican Leader – $5,500

Republican Whip – $5,500

Republican Floor Leader – $2,000

Assistant Floor Leader – $2,000

Caucus Vice-Chairman – $2,000

Caucus Secretary – $2,000

Caucus Treasurer – $2,000

These “Leadership dues” result in an additional $63,500 and a cumulative subtotal of Member plus Leadership dues of $137,500.

Committee Chair and Vice Chair dues, paid in addition to the $1,000 Member dues and Leadership dues for just one Member, vary by the specific Committee, broken into four tiers by some apparent level of importance or influence, as seen below:


Full Committee Chairman – $9,000 (x 1 = $9,000)

Sub-Committee Chairman – $7,000 (x 1 – $7,000)

Vice-Chairman – $4,000 (x 1 = $4,000)

(Health; Insurance & Banking)

Full Committee Chairman – $7,000 (x 2 = $14,000)

Sub-Committee Chairman – $3,000 (x 2 = $6,000)

Vice-Chairman – $2,000 (x 2 = $4,000)

(State; Transportation, Business and Utilities; Consumer and Human Resources; Civil Justice; Education Instruction and Programs; Education Administration and Planning)

Full Committee Chairman – $4,000 (x 7 = $28,000)

Sub-Committee Chairman – $3,000 (x 7 = $21,000)

Vice-Chairman – $1,000 (x 7 = $7,000)

(Agriculture and Natural Resources; Calendar and Rules; Criminal Justice; Local Government; Government Operations)

Full Committee Chairman – $3,000 (x 5 = $15,000)

Sub-Committee Chairman – $2,000 (x 5 = $10,000)

Vice-Chairman – $1,000 (x 5 = $5,000)

The “TOTAL-Contributions” are summed on the document as $267,500, which is in error, as the total is actually $271,500.

The required contribution amounts are accompanied by a warning.

“Those who do not contribute to the Caucus will not be eligible to receive financial assistance in their re-election efforts for the General Election,”the memo states, adding:

In the event a member does not meet their contribution requirement they may be reprimanded up to and including losing their House Caucus voting privileges.

UPDATE/Note: House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams sent this comment via email on the report:

“Caucus dues have existed for more than a dozen years and are critical in supporting the re-election efforts of our members.  This dues schedule was unanimously approved by the Caucus Campaign Committee, the group tasked with setting assessment standards. The Committee — a combination of leadership and rank and file members — presented the schedule at our retreat over two months ago, and it was unanimously approved by the 50 plus members who attended. We encourage the Tennessee Star to confirm their facts and information before reporting inaccuracies.”

5 Responses to A political ‘pay-to-play’ system in place for state House Republican Caucus?

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    Junelandrum says:

    Is this constitutional?

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    Lance Persson says:

    I hope many of the elected Republicans will push back on this. This type of nonsense encourages those elected by the people to seek out contributions for favors to pay these “pay to play” charges. We want our elected officials to be responsive to the people who elected them not the leadership of their political party.

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    Colonel Jackson says:

    Of course this is constitutional. It’s nothing new. Members pool resources and then the caucus can help whoever has a tough re-election campaign or R’s challenging D’s for seats. This is how you build and keep a majority.

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      Misty Partner says:

      Well said Colonel! Tennessee Scar, the ugly blemish of internet news. Well at least it keeps Hartline and the other “merry tipsters” at RTP busy.

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    Kay White says:

    As a candidate for Governor, I will call this what it is – corruption! And anyone, even if they are a candidate for Governor alsois corrupt and wants our system to be corrupt. This is riduculous and the people of Tennessee are tired of those like Beth Harwell who favor this corrupt type of government. Beth perhaps it is time that you think about moving back to your home state since Tennessee is not that place just happened to be the place you decided to take your roots. From what I hear, Beth Harwell started out doing good but “drank the kool aid” as she constantly feels compelled to mention Governor Haslam’s name in her speeches – he is not going to help her anymore than he will help Randy Boyd – Friends are one thing but “Partners” is another – think on that one!

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