former lawmakers

Andy Holt 3.0? Former lawmaker lands job in Lee administration

Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) attends a meeting at the state Captiol in Nashville on Jan. 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former state Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) has been named director of business development within the state Department of Agriculture.

Holt served in the House from 2010 through his retirement this November. He was mostly known for his firebrand politics until being named chairman of the powerful budget subcommittee by then-speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin).

Following Casada’s fall from power, new speaker Cameron Sexton chose a new head of the panel, returning Holt to the backbench.

Holt, a prominent supporter of Bill Lee during the 2018 governor’s race, is the latest ex-lawmaker to join the administration. The position will pay Holt $92,700 per year.

Here’s the release announcing Holt’s hire.

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. has announced the addition of Andy Holt to the Business Development Division of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA). Holt will serve as Director of Business Development in support of economic development initiatives, as well as agriculture and forestry industry expansion.

“Rural economic development and recovery from the pandemic are priorities of the Department and Governor Bill Lee,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “TDA has been given the opportunity to lead projects focused on these priorities and the addition of Andy Holt will be a significant enhancement to our work. Andy’s personal and professional experience in farming, along with his education in agriculture and economics, will support our efforts towards recruitment, recovery, and expansion.”

Holt served in the Tennessee House of Representatives, District 76 covering Weakley County and parts of Carroll and Obion Counties from 2010 to 2020. During his tenure, Holt served on several committees and was chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee. He and his wife, Ellie, own and operate Holt Family Farms, an agri-tourism and diversified livestock farming operation in Dresden. Holt is a former Financial Services Officer at Farm Credit Services and former Greenfield Fertilizer Manager at Weakley County Farmers Cooperative.

“As a first-generation farmer, I have chosen agriculture not only as my profession, but more importantly, my wife, Ellie, and I have chosen agriculture as a lifestyle for our family,” Holt said. “I appreciate and look forward to the opportunity to continue my service to the State of Tennessee in this new capacity, leveraging my relationships, knowledge, and skills to strengthen the agriculture industry and community. There are only two words on the Tennessee State Seal, and this new position will combine them both – Agriculture and Commerce. I will work to see both thrive during my service with the team at the Department of Agriculture.”

Holt’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Business with a minor in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Martin with a focus on Economics and Finance. He will begin his new duties with TDA in January.

4 former lawmakers among 6 finalists to lead ethics and campaign finance panel

The Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance has whittled down the applications to succeed retiring Executive Director Drew Rawlins from 43 to six. The finalists include four former lawmakers, a former judge, and a current staffer.

The finalists are scheduled to be interviewed over the course of three weeks starting on July 8. Here’s who made the cut:

  • Former Rep. Jerome Cochran, a Republican who lost to former House Speaker Kent Williams (I-Elizabethton) three times in as as many election cycles. Cochran is now an administrative law judge.
  • Former Rep. Mark Goins, a Republican who ran twice for the Senate — losing to former Democratic Sen. Tommy Kilby (D-Wartburg) — after being drawn out of his House seat in redistricting. Goins is the state election coordinator under Secretary of State Tre Hargett.
  • Former Rep. Judd Matheny, who came in third in a bid for the Republican nomination in his bid for 6th Congressional District seat last year.
  • Former Rep. Kim McMillan, the former House Democratic leader who lost her re-election bid as Clarksville mayor to former Rep. Joe Pitts.
  • Jay Moeck, the current audit director of the bureau.
  • Former Nashville Chancellor Bill Young, a onetime counsel for Blue Cross General Counsel and twice a top attorney for the state Attorney General’s Office.

The selection will be made by the members of the Ethics Commission and the Registry of Election Finance. Both panels are evenly divided along party lines. As the only Democratic finalist, McMillan appears to have an advantage if the Republicans split the vote. Of course, Republicans could coalesce behind a single finalist, at which point there could be an impasse.