Registry dismisses campaign finance complaints against Black, delays decision on Harwell

From an AP brief

A Tennessee panel has dismissed two campaign finance complaints against Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black in her gubernatorial bid.

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance dismissed complaints Wednesday that claim Black exceeded campaign contribution limits through donations from people and entities related to Tennessee trucking company Fitzgerald Glider Kits.

Linda Knight, a Black campaign attorney, called the allegations frivolous and baseless.

The registry delayed three complaints against Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell in her rival gubernatorial campaign until May. They claim Harwell’s political committee helped her campaign beyond legal limits and that she doesn’t have the money to support a $3.1 million campaign self-loan.

Further from the Tennessean:

Several of the contributions noted in the complaint (against Black) had ties to Fitzgerald Peterbilt, a Byrdstown-based company that benefited from a loophole that exempts rebuilt diesel engines from modern emissions standards. Both complaints were filed by two separate Nashville residents. (Previous related post HERE.)

Tom Lawless, who was voted in as chairman earlier in the meeting, said he was uncomfortable with taking up the complaints (against Harwell) Wednesday and favored addressing them in the future. Lawless cited the need for Harwell to concentrate on the legislative session as the reason for the delay.

Nashville attorney Austin McMullen, who represented Harwell and the PAC in question, requested the registry dismiss the complaints altogether.

Hank Fincher, a member of the registry, said he was leaning toward dismissing the complaints, but Lawless said he had some real concerns about the allegations of questionable in-kind contributions.

… The registry also took the following action Wednesday:

-Dismissed a $2,100 fine against former Rep. Kevin Dunlap, D-Rock Island, who said he would never seek office again while asking for leniency for the late filing of a campaign disclosure.

-Declined to take action on issues related to Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, and Yusuf Hakeem, a Chattanooga Democrat seeking the seat being vacated by Rep. Joanne Favors, D-Chattanooga.

-Issued a show cause notice against Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis, who has frequently faced fines for late filing campaign disclosures.

-Accepted a $1,000 settlement from a 2012 candidate who was assessed a $10,000 penalty for not filing a report.

-Agreed to offer a $2,500 settlement to Nashville-based PAC, Winning Our Liberty, for late filing a report. The PAC was facing a $10,000 penalty.

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