Donald Trump

Trump to hold fundraiser in Nashville on Thursday

Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to come to Nashville on Thursday to raise money for his latest White House bid. The invitation doesn’t say where the event will be held, but it’s expected to be hosted at new luxury hotel downtown. Republican U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Bill Hagerty of Nashville plan to be in attendance.

It will be Trump’s second Nashville visit since holding another fundraiser and locking up several endorsements from Tennessee’s congressional delegation when the Republican National Committee held a retreat in Music City in April.

Rival GOP candidates Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, and Tim Scott have also looked to Tennessee for campaign cash. Pence is holding an event in Nashville on Monday, Politico’s Natalie Allison reports.

Former Gov. Bill Haslam is hosting a luncheon fundraiser for Scott in Knoxville on Thursday. And DeSantis held a series of fundraisers in Franklin, Chattanooga, and Knoxville late last month.

Trump lands endorsements among Tenn. congressional delegation

Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn attends the Tennessee Republican Party’s Statesmen’s Dinner in Nashville on June 15, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Bill Hagerty of Nashville are backing Donald Trump’s renewed presidential bid. Also announcing their support this weekend were U.S. Reps. Diana Harshbarger of Kingsport and John Rose of Cookeville.

UPDATE: Trump announced his 2024 Tennessee Federal Leadership Team also includes Reps. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga) and Mark Green (R-Ashland City), along with former Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-Knoxville). Uncommitted so far are Reps. David Kustoff (R-Memphis), Scott DesJarlais (R-Sherwood), Andy Ogles (R-Columbia), and Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville).

Here’s what they had to say:

Under President Trump, our economy was booming, gas prices were low, and inflation was under control. Our border was secure, our adversaries feared us, & our military was strong.   I am proud to endorse Donald Trump for President and can’t wait until he’s back in the White House.

— Marsha Blackburn

It is my honor to give my whole-hearted endorsement to Donald J. Trump to be the next President of the United States. I was honored to previously serve in his Administration. Under President Trump, our border was secure, our nation was energy independent, & we witnessed a Blue-Collar Boom that lifted up American workers of all backgrounds. Under President Trump’s leadership, we engaged with strength, & we encouraged our allies to stand strong with us.

— Bill Hagerty

We can return to the conservative values and leadership that once made America great. President Donald J. Trump has a proven track record of delivering results and putting America first. He has done it before, and he can do it again. As an American who values proven leadership, I am proud to give my complete and full endorsement to President Trump.

— Diana Harshbarger

Under Biden’s leadership, America is weaker than ever. Under President Trump, our economy was strong, our border was secure, and our conservative principles and freedoms were protected. In 2024, it is imperative that we elect a leader that projects strength. That’s why I am endorsing Donald Trump for President.”

— John Rose

Trump-endorsed Lee says vaguely critical things about Trump style

Gov. Bill Lee and first lady Maria Lee appear with then-President Donald Trump after touring tornado damage in Middle Tennessee on March 20, 2020. (Image credit: State of Tennessee)

Gov. Bill Lee was endorsed for re-election by former President Donald Trump in August 2021, which might have gone a long way toward dissuading a major primary challenge.

But when Trump was announcing a renewed bid for president at his West Palm Beach, Fla., home on Tuesday, Lee was 170 miles away at a meeting of the Republican Governor’s Association in Orlando. Several elected leaders at the RGA meeting blamed Trump for the GOP’s disappointing showing last week’s congressional elections.

“Our children learn a lot by what we say and what we do. And they especially mimic and learn by how we treat other people,” The Washington Post quoted Lee as saying at one panel discussion. “And there is not much inspiring about the way we treat people in politics.”

Lee reportedly argued a return to a “degree of civility” would “inspire a group of voters” to vote for Republicans.

Here’s what Trump had to say about Lee in announcing his endorsement through his PAC last year:

Governor Bill Lee is an outsider who led the Great State of Tennessee through difficult times, without compromising his Conservative Values. Tennesseans enjoy more freedom than ever before. He fully supports Law Enforcement, Strong Borders, the Second Amendment, our Military and our Vets. Re-electing Bill Lee means putting America first. Bill has my Complete and Total Endorsement!

Trump endorses Republican Ogles in 5th District

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Republican Andy Ogles in his 5th Congressional District race against Democrat Heidi Campbell.

Here’s what Trump said in a statement released by his political action committee on Saturday morning:

As the former and outstanding Mayor of Maury County, Andy knows how to Create Jobs, Grow the Economy, Keep our Neighborhoods Safe, and Protect our Constitutional Rights.

In Congress, Andy will Secure our Southern Border, Stop Inflation, Uphold the Rule of Law, and Defend our Second Amendment.

Andy Ogles is a tireless fighter for our America First agenda, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement!

Campbell was quick to point out that Trump’s original choice for the nomination was Morgan Ortagus, who was booted from the primary. Ogles was among those prodding lawmakers to pass a law seeking to create new residency requirements for congressional candidates, but Gov. Bill Lee slow-walked the bill to have it take effect after the field had been set. The Republican Party’s executive committee then voted to declare Ortagus and two others ineligible for the GOP nomination.

“Andy Ogles wasn’t even Donald Trump’s first choice,” Campbell said. “He shouldn’t be yours.”

The feds have some issues with Tennessee’s block grant program

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 6, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are looking for some significant changes to Tennessee’s block grant program approved toward the end of Republican President Donald Trump’s time in office.

The biggest questions appear to be over how the state will determine the amount of shared savings achieved through the new approach. One area the CDC has rejected out of hand is an effort to institute a closed formulary for prescription drugs under which the state could opt out of providing certain expensive medications approved by the FDA.

Negotiations are understood to have been going on for some time, so a letter sent to TennCare Director Stephen Smith last week did not come as a huge surprise to officials in Nashville. Here is what it said:

Dear Mr. Smith,

This letter is to advise Tennessee of a decision by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to propose changes to the waiver and expenditure authorities and the Special Terms and Conditions (STCs) for the TennCare III section 1115 demonstration (11-W-00369/4), in response to the federal public comment period which closed on September 9, 2021.

After reviewing the public comments, CMS has significant concerns on the following items and whether they promote the objectives of Medicaid and should be supported under section 1115 authority. CMS is evaluating a range of actions, but is asking the state to make the following changes to address these concerns. Making these adjustments would significantly mitigate CMS concerns. The following list summarizes CMS’ proposed changes to TennCare III.

Closed Formulary

Remove the expenditure authority for pharmacy and associated pharmacy flexibilities from the demonstration.

Financing of the Demonstration and Limitations on Reductions in Benefits or Coverage

Submit a new financing and budget neutrality model, based on a traditional per member per month cap instead of an aggregate cap. Additionally, modify the STCs to more explicitly state that Tennessee cannot cut benefits or coverage in effect December 31, 2021 without an amendment to the demonstration, subject to additional public comment period and CMS approval.

Demonstration Expenditure Authorities

We support the state’s policy goals to expand coverage and benefits and propose that instead of the current framework for savings and investment, CMS will work with the state on necessary expenditure authorities to meet common goals. In place of the structure in the current demonstration, the state should include in the demonstration amendment a request for expenditure authority for state reinvestments for initiatives that the state would like to support with budget neutrality savings (e.g., adult dental services, expanded 12-month postpartum coverage and enhanced home and community-based services; etc.).

We appreciate your state’s commitment to improving the health of the people in Tennessee, and being responsive to the concerns raised during the public comment period. At this time, CMS requests that Tennessee submit an amendment to the demonstration including the changes listed above, subject to the requirements for an amendment as described in the STCs, by August 30, 2022.



Daniel Tsai
Deputy Administrator and Director

New TNJ alert: Fallout from GOP’s 5th District cull, compromise on ‘truth in sentencing’ clears way to adjournment

It all fits together somehow.

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— GOP ouster of three leading candidates, including Trump favorite Ortatgus, from 5th Congressional District primary reverberates in Tennessee and beyond.

— The end is near: Compromise over “truth in sentencing” bill clears path to legislature’s adjournment as soon as next week.

— From the campaign trail: Races for prosecutor heat up in Shelby, Davidson, and Hamilton counties, big money for Republican Brent Taylor in bid to succeed indicted Sen. Brian Kelsey and Democrat Caleb Hemmer in race for open Nashville House seat, and a skulduggery update.


Frank Niceley’s blames reporter for his own comments, Lamar Alexander backs parking fees at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Michael Curcio sends his campaign balance to his PAC, Todd Warner praises Dixieland Strategies, and Chris Todd channels Bob Dylan.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

Trump to speak in Memphis, Harris to give commencement speech at TSU

Former President Donald Trump and current Vice President Kamala Harris have upcoming speaking engagements in Tennessee.

Harris is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Tennessee State University in Nashville on May 7, NBC News reports.

“Commencement marks a major milestone in our students’ lives, but to have the Vice President of the United States as your guest speaker makes this moment even more special for our students and their families,” TSU President Glenda Glover said in a release.

Trump is coming to Memphis as part of his “American Freedom” tour on June 18, the Daily Memphian reports. The roster of speakers is also expected to include Donald Trump Jr., commentator Candace Owens, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Ortagus raises $600K despite fight over eligibility

Republican Morgan Ortagus has raised nearly $600,000 for her congressional bid despite persistent questions about whether she will be able to appear on the primary ballot for the 5th District.

Ortagus made a big splash when she landed the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, but state lawmakers overwhelmingly passed legislation to require people seeking to run in party primaries for Congress to have lived in Tennessee for at least three years. Ortagus moved to Nashville last year. A legal challenge is pending.

Here is the fundraising release from the Ortagus campaign:

NASHVILLE, TN — Team Morgan Ortagus today announced that Trump-endorsed conservative Morgan Ortagus raised nearly $600,000 in the first six weeks of her campaign to represent Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. Team Morgan Ortagus has over $550,000 cash on hand.

“Our team is building momentum every day, as Middle Tennesseans make it clear they want their next Congressman to fight for our conservative values and President Trump’s America First agenda,” said Morgan Ortagus. “I’ve never run for public office before, and I’m truly humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve received in the first two months of our campaign. Together, we’re going to take back the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and fire Nancy Pelosi once and for all.”

Morgan Ortagus is an active U.S. Navy Reserve Officer and a business executive. She served in President Trump’s Department of State and has received President Trump’s “complete and total” endorsement.

Read the lawsuit filed against congressional residency requirements in Tennessee

The House meets at the state Capitol in Nashville on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Nashville seeking to prevent a state law from going into effect that would impose a three-year residency requirement for congressional candidates in Tennessee. The challenge was filed on behalf of three residents who say they want to vote for Republican Morgan Ortagus in the the open 5th District race. Ortagus has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, but state lawmakers have chafed at her candidacy because she only moved to the state a year ago.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson, who was appointed to the bench by Trump. The lawsuit was filed by the Washington, D.C., law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC.

As frequent offenders when it comes to typos, we wouldn’t ordinarily make a point of highlighting the mistakes of others, but misspelled words in the lawsuit are particularly jarring given their central nature to the arguments presented. They include “Tennesse,” “Represenatives,” “unconstitional” “Repulican,” “impermissably,” “Consitution,” “Congressionl,” and “critreria.” They are replicated within the full text of the complaint below:

BARBRA COLLINS, AMY C. DUDLEY and DONALD J. SOBERY, PLAINTIFFS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE, and TRE HARGETT in his official capacity as Tennessee Secretary of State, DEFENDANTS.)


Plaintiffs Barbra Collins (“Collins”), Amy C. Dudley (“Dudley”), and Donald J. Sobery (“Sobery”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), file this Complaint against Defendants State of Tennessee (the “State”) and Tre Hargett (“Hargett”), in his official capacity as Tennessee Secretary of State, (collectively “Defendants”), and allege as follows:


1. This is a civil action seeking damages and declaratory relief arising under the Qualification Clause of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. Art. 1 § 2; U.S. Const. Art. 1 § 5. This action challenges the constitutionality of Tennessee Senate Bill 2616/House Bill 2764 (the “Provision”) that imposes an impermissible residency requirement on candidates running for United States Congress Specifically, the Provision requires that a candidate running for United States Congress reside in Tennessee, as well as within the congressional district they seek to represent, for at least three years in order to appear on the primary ballot as a candidate.

2. This Provision will become law unless Governor Bill Lee vetoes the legislation.

3. Under the challenged Provision, an otherwise constitutionally qualified candidate for whom Plaintiffs intend to vote in the Republican primary for the Fifth Congressional District, will be prohibited from running because she has not lived in Tennessee for at least three years. The Provision blatantly violates Article I of the United States Constitution (the “Constitution”) because the Constitution delineates the only qualifications necessary to serve as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and vests with the House of Representatives the exclusive authority to judge the qualifications of its own members.

4. Plaintiffs seek damages and a declaration that the Provision is unconstitutional so that all qualified candidates who wish to run for Congress in the August 4, 2022 primary election may do so.

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House backs off delay on residency requirement for congressional candidates, sends bill to governor

House members attend a floor session in Nashville on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A bill seeking to require congressional candidates to have lived in Tennessee for at least three years before they can seek office is on its way to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk after the House dropped its effort to have the measure apply to the election cycle after this one.

If signed into law, the measure could imperil the 5th District candidacies of former U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus and music video producer Robby Starbuck. Ortagus, who moved to Nashville last year, has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Starbuck, a California transplant, has the backing of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

A legal challenge is also widely anticipated because the U.S. Constitution only requires candidates to be at least 25 years old and live in the state they are hoping to represent.

Other GOP candidates for the open 5th District seat include former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, businessman Baxter Lee, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, and retired National Guard general Kurt Winstead.


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