Jack Johnson

New TNJ edition alert: The Registry’s revenge, criminal justice developments, and tie breakers

The Registry of Election Finance meets in Nashville on Sept. 8, 2022. From left are members Tom Morton, Tom Lawless, and Hank Fincher. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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

— Registry to audit candidate who nearly beat Senate GOP leader; hardball tactics contrast with earlier efforts to brush Tillis complaints under rug.

— Criminal justice: Backers say Memphis murder case justifies ‘truth in sentencing’ law.

— Tied up in knots: Sumner, Cocke commissions take contrasting steps to break election deadlock.

Also: A Democrat is elected chair of the Republican Knox County Commission, a big Tennessee beer distributor is gobbled up by a huge national firm, the state treasurer backs away from cryptocurrency, and a happy hour curfew.

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

Or subscribe here.

Mailer barrage in Johnson-Humble primary in Williamson County

Tennessee Stands founder Gary Humble’s primary challenge of Senate Republican leader Jack Johnson in Williamson County has unleased a mailer barrage. Campaign literature is being sent out by groups like Senate Speaker Randy McNally’s PAC, Tennessee Conservatives PAC, and Tennesseans for Putting Students First.

“We don’t need Gary Humble representing prosperous Williamson County,” says on mailer.

Here’s a sampling:

Continue reading

Complaint alleges Humble failed to register as lobbyist

Complaints filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance and the state Ethics Commission allege conservative activist and state Senate candidate Gary Humble failed to file as a lobbyist and sent out a mailer without a disclaimer. Humble is challenging Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson of Franklin in the Republican primary.

The ethics complaint was field by Brentwood resident Tom Freeman. It says Humble as the head of the group Tennessee Stands often spoke about lobbying state lawmakers, but never filed official paperwork to do so. The Registry complaint says campaign literature didn’t include information about source.

Here’s is the sworn statement of facts from the ethics complainant:

According to the Tennessee Lookout’s story “New conservative group Tennessee Stands takes on government mandates” (published on 1/21/21) Tennessee Stands and its founder, Gary Humble, have filed lawsuits against Gov. Bill Lee and county officials…. and lobbied for law changes, although there is no record Humble or others associated with the organization have formally registered as lobbyists.

In an April 2021 interview with the Tennessee Star (available on their website at “Tennessee Stands Gary Humble Describes His Visits to the Tennessee Capitol Hill as a Grassroots Activist”), Humble stated the chooses “not to participate” regarding the ethics commission rules. Of note, in this interview, Humble also admits that he could register as a lobbyist.

Tennessee Stands, the organization founded by Humble, has previously listed “Lobbying” as one of their functions, but this has since been removed. Despite admittance of carrying out lobbying activities, Gary Humble has never been a registered lobbyist. Tennessee Stands has never had a lobbyist registered under their name, according to the Tennessee Ethics Commission.

In an April 2, 2021 video entitled “How Tennessee’s Vaccine Medical Exemption Bill Was Amended To Only Apply To COVID-19” on The Tennessee Conservative’s YouTube, Humble said, “… I had no idea that was going to happen, I have been lobbying this bill…”

In a video posted to the Tennessee Stands YouTube account on November 13 2020 entitled “So much going on…here’s an update from Gary,” Humble solicits donations to help sustain “lobbying” activities carried out by Tennessee Stands, saying: …”There is a donate button, we need help, we’re continuing to build a legal fund, we need help with lobbying activities…”

Neither the Registry nor the Ethics Commission meet before the Aug. 4 primary. Members of the Registry have taken issue recently with complaints they see as having been “weaponized” for political purposes.

Humble responded with the following comments to the Tennessee Star:

I have not registered as a lobbyist because I am not a paid lobbyist. I am not paid to lobby for any special interests. Tennessee Stands is an advocacy group that engages citizens all across the state of Tennessee in grassroots lobbying efforts. I have travelled across the state engaging citizens to work with their legislators, email, and call to support conservative legislation. And yes, as a citizen of the state of Tennessee, I myself have asked our legislators to support conservative legislation. Those are not efforts that require a permission slip from the government to engage in and are constitutionally protected for any citizen.

We did send out a mailer where the “paid for” disclaimer was unintentionally missed in the design. The mailer came directly from my campaign. The mailer contained my branding, my image, and a personal message from me as the candidate and was clearly sent from my campaign. The mailer was invoiced to my campaign and paid for in full by my campaign. Further, that invoice has already been provided to the DA’s office satisfactory to the complaint that was filed. This was a clerical error, nothing more.

New TNJ alert: Abortion ruling opens floodgates, Warner appears at event for GOP leader’s rival

Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) and Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia) attend a committee meeting in Nashville on March 28, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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

— Anything goes? Abortion ruling could revive long-thwarted bills.

— Warner’s appearance at Jack Johnson challenger’s event riles colleagues.

— House GOP leaders split over open Nashville race, Cepicky turns to seasoned operative to right campaign ship.

— Could Republicans have won on abortion only to lose the convention in Nashville?

Also: Hickman county doesn’t want other counties’ feces, U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer slaps political interference in mask case, Sheila Butt gets sued for defamation, and Funk gets railroaded.

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

Or subscribe here.

Here is the GOP’s omnibus anti-COVID 19-restrictions bill

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) attends a meeting on Oct. 18, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republicans lawmakers are pushing to outlaw COVID-19 vaccine requirements for customers and employees and coming closer to banning mask mandates in schools. Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) in introducing the omnibus amendment acknowledges many elements are “contrary to the tenets we hold sacred” as far as pro-business polices are concerned. But Johnson says current circumstances require a special response.

Here’s the amendment:

AMEND Senate Bill No. 9014 House Bill No. 9077*

by deleting all language after the enacting clause and substituting instead the following:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, is amended by adding the following as a new

title:

Title 14 – COVID-19

Chapter 1 – General Provisions

14-1-101. Definitions.

As used in this title, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) “Adverse action” means to:

(A) Discriminate against a person by denying the person employment, credit, insurance, access, products, services, or other benefits; or

(B) Discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee in any manner that affects the employee’s employment, including compensation, terms, conditions, locations, rights, immunities, promotions, or privileges;

(2) “Applicant” means a person who has applied for employment with an employer;

(3) “Arising from COVID-19” means caused by or resulting from the actual, alleged, or possible exposure to or contraction of COVID-19, or caused by or resulting from services, treatment, or other actions in response to COVID-19, including, but not limited to:

(A) Implementing policies and procedures to prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19; however, “arising from COVID-19” does not include implementing policies and procedures that violate this title;

(B) Testing;

(C) Monitoring, collecting, reporting, tracking, tracing, disclosing, or investigating COVID-19 exposure or other COVID-19-related information;

(D) Using, designing, manufacturing, providing, donating, or servicing precautionary, diagnostic, collection, or other health equipment or supplies, such as personal protective equipment;

(E) Closing or partially closing to prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19;

(F) Delaying or modifying the schedule or performance of any medical procedure; or

(G) Providing services or products in response to government appeal or repurposing operations to address an urgent need for personal protective equipment, sanitation products, or other products necessary to protect the public;

(4) “COVID-19” means the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and coronavirus disease 2019, commonly referred to as COVID-19, including any variant of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19;

(5) “COVID-19 vaccine” means a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide protection against COVID-19, prepared from the causative agent of COVID-19, its products, or a synthetic substitute, and treated to act as an antigen without inducing a COVID-19 infection

(6) “Employer” means a person, private business, or governmental entity employing one (1) or more persons within this state;

(7) “Face covering” means a protective covering designed to be worn over the nose and mouth to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but “face covering” does not include an industry required mask;

Continue reading

No changes at the top for Senate GOP

The Tennessee Senate meets on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Senate Republicans have renominated Randy McNally as speaker and re-elected Ken Yager as caucus chairman and Jack Johnson as majority leader.

Here’s a release outlining today’s action:

NASHVILLETennessee’s Senate Republican Caucus met today in Nashville where they voted unanimously to renominate Lt. Governor Randy McNally to a third term and to return Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) to their top leadership roles as Majority Leader and Republican Caucus Chairman respectively.  Others elected to caucus leadership positions include Senator Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) as Treasurer, Senator Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro) as Secretary and Senator Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro) as Chaplain. 

Lt. Governor McNally said, “As I reflect back on over forty years in the General Assembly, I cannot think of a more dedicated group of public servants than we have in the Senate at this moment. An effective team not only has to have the right players, but those players’ talents also need to be deployed effectively. Our Senate team is an effective team. I am humbled once again to have been chosen to help lead this great group of leaders.”

Leader Johnson said, “I am grateful for the support of this group of senators who are deeply committed to serving the people of their districts.  Tennesseans have spoken clearly that they want to continue conservative management of our state budget, and to implement policies to encourage growth, and reduce burdens on small businesses and working families.  The stability in our leadership team positions us to move seamlessly into the 2021 legislative session during these difficult times as we unite to focus on policies that will create opportunities and improve the lives of Tennesseans.”

Chairman Yager said, “I am honored and humbled to serve again as caucus chairman to such a hardworking, talented and committed group of individuals.   We have many challenging issues that await us in the 2021 legislative session. This caucus embraces challenges and will chart a bold, conservative path to support economic recovery efforts, improve education, and provide quality health care services, making Tennessee the best place in the nation to live work and raise a family.”

“Our Senate Republican majority has been placing conservative ideas into action over the past decade with great success,” McNally added.  “We reformed education, reclaimed our AAA bond rating and cut taxes while shrinking government. This past year has been a difficult one. Our majority has been tested by fire. Our state has weathered this adversity better than any other state in the union. The reason for this was preparation and leadership. I am proud of the job we have done as well as the job we will do. I am looking forward to getting to work with our outstanding membership to build upon our success.”

Caucus members also voted to nominate Senator Yager, Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), and Senator Paul Rose (R-Covington) to serve on the Joint Fiscal Review Committee.  The committee conducts a continuing review of the financial operations of state government.   The nominees will be confirmed by a resolution of the full Senate when the General Assembly convenes.   

The meeting was held as lawmakers prepare to open the first session of the 112th General Assembly on January 12.  Senate Republicans hold a 27-6 super majority, providing direct member representation to citizens in all 95 counties in Tennessee. 

Johnson elected Senate majority leader, Yager wins caucus chairmanship

Senate Republicans have elected Jack Johnson of Franklin as majority leader and Ken Yager of Kingston as Republican caucus chairman. Sen. Randy McNally was unopposed for another term as speaker.

Johnson defeated Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville, while Yager won on the first ballot against Sens. Becky Duncan Massey of Knoxville and Brian Kelsey of Germantown.

The majority leader position was vacated by former Sen. Mark Norris of Collierville, who has become a federal judge in Memphis. The caucus chairmanship was open because former Sen. Bill Ketron was elected Rutherford County mayor.

The next scramble will be over who replaces Johnson as chairman of the Commerce Committee and Yager as chairman of the State and Local Government Committee.

Here’s a statement from Speaker McNally:

Jack Johnson will be an outstanding Senate Majority Leader. He has the experience, temperament and policy expertise to lead our caucus and the Senate to new heights. Jack has been intimately involved in the progress we have made as a state. Beginning with his transformation of the Government Operations Committee to his strong leadership on the Commerce Committee, Jack has put conservative ideas into action on behalf of the people of Tennessee. As we embark on a new era in Tennessee state government, Jack’s leadership will be critical. Congratulations, Leader Johnson.

Ken Yager has the depth of skill and breadth of experience to excel as chairman of our Senate Republican Caucus. As a county executive and chairman of the Senate State and Local Committee, he has demonstrated an ability to lead under pressure. Our caucus has achieved much success both in policy and in politics. I expect that success to continue under Ken Yager’s leadership. Congratulations, Chairman Yager.

The Senate is fortunate to have a membership full of capable and talented leaders. I am confident the team we have elected today will work together with Governor Lee and the state House to keep Tennessee the best state in the nation in which to live, work and raise a family.