PACs

New PAC takes aim at Gov. Bill Lee’s re-election bid

(Image credit: Beat Bill Lee PAC)

A new political action committee called Beat Bill Lee takes aim at the Republican’s re-election efforts. The PAC is run by Emily Cupples, the former communications director of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

Lee is running for a second term next year. While limited polling has shown his popularity has slipped with Democrats, he remains popular with Republicans. No Democratic candidate has won a statewide race in Tennessee since 2006.

Here’s the release from the new PAC:

GROUP OF CONCERNED TENNESSEANS LAUNCH BEAT BILL LEE PAC
April 29th, 2021 (Tennessee) – Today, Tennesseans from across the state filed a political action committee against Governor Bill Lee’s bid for re-election in 2022. Funded by small dollar donations, the PAC will use funds raised to organize hard working families across Tennessee and America to mobilize against the power grab from Bill Lee and other fringe conservatives. This political action committee is composed of Tennesseans from all parts of the state and members include working families, single young folks, white collar professionals, politicians, and Tennesseans from all backgrounds united around the mission to beat Bill Lee in 2022. Beat Bill Lee will utilize a mixture of traditional and unconventional campaign tactics to lead a campaign against the current sitting governor.

“Since Bill Lee took office 7 rural hospitals closed, 4 during the COVID19 pandemic, unemployment reached an all time high, gun violence increased by 50%, and our student proficiency dropped. Spending $7 million taxpayer dollars on lawsuits, it’s evident Lee is serving dark interest groups and not Tennessee families. We cannot wait until 3 months out from election day, when the primary is over, to start mobilizing against Lee. We must stop Bill Lee and the dark money interest groups he represents from their continued destruction of Tennessee. The work to Beat Bill Lee begins today.” – Emily Cupples, Beat Bill Lee PAC Director.

State BlueCross stops short of sweeping donation ban

The state Capitol on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The national BlueCross BlueShield Association made waves this week by announcing it would suspend political donations to lawmakers who objected to the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election as president.

“In light of this week’s violent, shocking assault on the United States Capitol, and the votes of some members of Congress to subvert the results of November’s election by challenging Electoral College results, BCSBA will suspend contributions to those lawmakers who voted to undermine our democracy,” the federation of 36 independent BlueCross companies said in a statement.

Chattanooga-based BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee doesn’t appear to be taking the same blanket approach toward its PAC donations to state candidates.

“An internal committee routinely reviews any potential PAC contributions before they are made. As part of this process, the committee examines the actions and records of elected officials on a campaign-by-campaign and candidate-by-candidate basis to determine whether they’re consistent with our mission, beliefs and goals,” the company said.

“BlueCross, like many other companies, will continue closely scrutinizing PAC contributions. As we always have, we will continue to look particularly close at candidates who take positions that differ from their stated core values, and how their values align with our own,” according to the statement.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee PAC made $200,600 in state contributions during the last election cycle, of which $15,500 went to six Republicans who signed a Dec. 30 letter urging Congress to reject the presidential election results. A total of 18 representatives and five senators had signaled their support for the letter.

Who do you love? Top PAC donors of this election cycle

The doors of the state Capitol were closed to the public on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Political Action Committee giving to legislative candidates may be down in 2020 compared with the previous election cycle, but that doesn’t mean big money isn’t finding its way into the the campaign coffers and leadership committees of Tennessee lawmakers.

Through campaign finance disclosures running through the start of early voting on July 17, here are the top PAC and business recipients among state lawmakers, candidates, and leadership committees.

  1. MCPAC (Randy McNally): $510,380
  2. CAM PAC (Cameron Sexton): $385,287
  3. HOUSE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS: $334,500
  4. SENATE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS: $326,250
  5. TENNESSEE LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: $259,292
  6. SEXTON, CAMERON: $230,076
  7. ROSE, PAUL: $181,184
  8. JOHNSON, JACK: $147,950
  9. LAMBERTH PAC $138,000
  10. KEYPAC (Ken Yager):  $120,600
  11. REEVES, SHANE: $117,350
  12. LAMBERTH, WILLIAM: $115,750
  13. POWERS, BILL: $111,595
  14. TILLIS, RICK: $99,577
  15. FAISON, JEREMY: $97,750
  16. GARDENHIRE, TODD: $93,617
  17. SMITH, ROBIN: $90,550
  18. HAILE, FERRELL: $88,600
  19. LYNN, SUSAN: $86,550
  20. GANT, RON: $85,550
  21. DICKERSON, STEVEN: $82,150
  22. BELL, MIKE: $78,580
  23. HICKS, GARY: $77,408
  24. YAGER, KEN: $77,065
  25. BAILEY, PAUL: $76,100

The PACs and businesses that have given most generously are:

  1. TENNESSEE REALTORS PAC: $446,700
  2. WINE AND SPIRITS WHOLESALERS OF TENNESSEE PAC: $324,100
  3. TENNESSEE BANKERS ASSN PAC: $189,250
  4. TENNESSEE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: $164,710
  5. AMAZON.COM SERVICES LLC: $163,000
  6. TENNESSEE HIGHWAY CONTRACTORS PAC: $161,500
  7. JACK DANIEL’S PAC: $154,000
  8. FLEX PAC: $149,500
  9. INDEPENDENT MEDICINE’S PAC-TN: $146,250
  10. TN ADVANCE FINANCIAL PAC: $146,100
  11. BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF TN PAC: $134,600
  12. FEDEX CORPORATION PAC: $133,100
  13. CAM PAC: $129,817
  14. FRIENDS OF THA: $121,250
  15. AT&T TENNESSEE PAC: $117,650
  16. CORECIVIC INC. PAC: $115,750
  17. TENNESSEE HEALTH CARE ASSN PAC: $112,750
  18. TENNESSEE REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC. PAC: $105,750
  19. TENNESSEE EMPLOYEES ACTION MOVEMENT: $102,400
  20. HCA TRISTAR FUND: $101,900

PAC set up by disbarred tea party figure takes aim at Romney

A political action committee set up by Judson Phillips, the disbarred founder of Tea Party Nation, is reporting new independent expenditures against Mitt Romney in the presidential race, the Nashville Post’s Stephen Elliott has found.

The PAC called Drain the DC Swamp was formed in November 2017. Phillips was listed last year as its treasurer and custodian of records. A new statement of organization filed last week no longer lists Phillips in either of those positions.

The PAC reported spending money in support of President Donald Trump and against Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 and current U.S. senator.

The State Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility disbarred Phillips in June after he acknowledged “he could not successfully defend himself” on 41 pending disciplinary complaints. Phillips had previously been disbarred last year after clients alleged he charged unreasonable fees and misled them about the results of timeshare litigation.

Beavers, Pody complain about PAC billboard criticizing them

A recently-formed political action committee has placed a billboard on a Wilson County highway criticizing former state Sen. Mae Beavers and her successor, Sen. Mark Pody, for voting against Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2017 “IMPROVE Act.” The two conservative Republicans, both currently engaged in political campaigns, complain that the billboard unfairly links traffic accidents and fatalities on the highway to their vote, reports The Tennessean.

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NRA endorses Diane Black for governor

Press release from NRA Political Victory Fund

Fairfax, Va.— The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) today endorsed Rep. Diane Black for governor in the Tennessee Republican Primary Election. Black is the only Tennessee gubernatorial candidate with an “A” rating and perfect record on Second Amendment issues.

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NFIB endorses reelection of 18 incumbent Republican state legislators and two Democrats (including ‘black Republican’ Tate)

The National Federation of Independent Business’ Tennessee political action committee has endorsed 20 incumbent state legislators for reelection – 18 Republicans and two Democrats. Sen. Reginal Tate and Rep. John DeBerry, both of Memphis. NFIB typically only endorses incumbents.

The Nashville Post notes that Tate’s Democratic primary opponent, Katrina Robinson, was recently endorsed by Democratic state Sens. Lee Harris and Sara Kyle, also representing Memphis. And that Tate and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron were recently recorded at a legislative committee meeting joking about that unusual move and Tate’s status as “a black Republican.”

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With an eye on becoming House speaker, Casada budgets $200K to help elect favored Republican reps

House Majority Leader Glen Casada has budgeted more than $200,000 in spending by his political action committee as part of an “aggressive strategy” to elect Republican representatives this year and —  perhaps not so coincidentally – help him get elected as the House speaker by those winning the races, reports Andy Sher.

Casada is one of at least four current Republican legislators eyeing a run to succeed current House Speaker Beth Harwell, who is not seeking reelection to the House this year and instead running for governor. The other three are Rep. Gerald McCormick, a former majority leader; House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson and Rep. David Hawk, currently assistant majority leader.

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Former Maryland governor and his PAC endorse Karl Dean for TN governor

Former Maryland governor and 2016 presidential candidate Martin O’Malley has endorsed Karl Dean for governor, reports the Nashville Post.

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New PAC backs Lee in Republican gubernatorial race with radio ad

A new Super PAC supporting Tennessee Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee says it began airing radio ads today touting the Williamson County businessman as the “conservative outsider we need,” reports the Times Free Press.

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