interim reports

McNally PAC’s interim filing kept in separate list from other last-minute disclosures

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) wields the gavel during a floor session on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Under new campaign finance rules adopted earlier this year, candidates for state and local office now have to disclose major contributions and expenditures coming in the final days of an election. As reported in The Tennessee Journal on Friday, about a half-million dollars of last-minute expenditures were reported in advance of the Aug. 4 primary, but about the same amount again went undisclosed until the quarterly filings were submitted in October.

Included in our total were $11,700 spent by Senate Speaker Randy McNally’s PAC that didn’t appear to be included within the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance list of interim disclosures. But the McNally camp notes it emailed the disclosure to the Registry on July 27, meaning it was properly submitted. So what gives?

It turns out the Registry keeps separate lists for interim reports — those submitted electronically and those filed using paper forms. But that’s far from clear for anyone visiting the site and clicking on the campaign finance disclosures icon. Following the link to search interim campaign finance disclosure reports takes visitors to a page that collects electronically filed reports (though there is no indication there that other disclosures are stored elsewhere).

Work your way through a pulldown menu, however, and links appear for “Completed Interim Reports” and “Interim Reports – Paper Filings.” The latter contains 27 filings from the before the primary (mostly for local or judicial races), including the one from McNally’s PAC, plus three from Republican state House candidate Janet Testerman totaling more than $36,000 in expenditures for her unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination to succeed retiring state Rep. Eddie Mannis (R-Knoxville).

So McNally and Testerman appear to have done everything right in their reporting. The confusion could be eliminated if the law was updated to require the interim reports to be filed electronically. But it also wouldn’t take much for the Registry to make it more clear it is keeping two sets of books.


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