Tre Hargett

Here are the 10 most-read TNJ blog posts so far this year

Lawmakers attend Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here are the most read stories on the TNJ: On the Hill blog through the first half of the year:

10. GOP attorney John Ryder dies. May 15.

9. Here’s who is retiring from the General Assembly this year. March 29.

Rep. Brandon Ogles attends a House floor session in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

8. Guess who’s back? Judge restores Starbuck to ballot. June 3.

7. Lee chooses Campbell to fill Supreme Court vacancy. Jan. 12.

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his State of the State address on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

6. Drew Alexander, son of former governor, dies at 52. Jan. 1.

5. Robin Smith resigns, pleads guilty. April 7.

Reps. Robin Smith (R-Hixson) and Mark Cochran (R-Englewood) are sworn into the 112th General Assembly on Jan. 12, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

4. Ex-girlfriend testifies Cothren had her register PAC for him. Jan. 14.

3. Lee declines to sign ‘truth in sentencing’ bill. May 5.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), left, and Rep. Pat Marsh (R-Shelbyville) await a joint convention on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

2. Trump endorses Ortagus in 5th District. Jan. 25.

1. Hargett charged with DUI after Bonnaroo visit. June 18.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Registration deadline for primary election is July 5

Campaign signs outside an early voting location in Nashville on Oct. 21, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The deadline to register for the August primary elections is July 5.

Here’s the release from Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennesseans who want to cast a ballot in the Aug. 4 State and Federal Primary & State and County General Election must register or update their voter registration before the voter registration deadline on Tuesday, July 5.

“Going into this 4th of July holiday, I can’t think of a more patriotic thing to do than to register to vote,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “With our convenient online voter registration system, it’s never been easier or safer for Tennesseans to register to vote or update their registration.”

Registering to vote, updating your address or checking your registration status is fast, easy and secure with the Secretary of State’s online voter registration system. Any U.S. citizen with a driver’s license or a photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security can register online in minutes from any computer or mobile device at GoVoteTN.gov.

Voters can also download a paper voter registration application at GoVoteTN.gov. Completed paper voter registration applications must be mailed to your local county election commission office or submitted in person. Mailed voter registrations must be postmarked by July 5.

Election Day registration is not available in Tennessee.

Early voting for the Aug. 4 election starts Friday, July 15, and runs Monday to Saturday until Saturday, July 30. The deadline to request an absentee by-mail ballot is Thursday, July 28. However, eligible voters who will be voting absentee by-mail should request the ballot now.

For up-to-date, accurate information about the Aug. 4 election, follow the Secretary of State’s social media channels Twitter: @SecTreHargett, Facebook: Tennessee Secretary of State and Instagram: @tnsecofstate.

For more information about registering to vote, voter eligibility and other Tennessee election details, visit GoVoteTN.gov or call the Division of Elections toll-free at 1-877-850-4959.

New TNJ edition: TWRA chafes at legislative interference, Hargett seeks to limit fallout from DUI arrest

Lawmakers attend Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

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

— Dangerous game? TWRA leaders chafe over Capitol pushback.

— Statehouse roundup: Hargett seeks to contain fallout from post-Bonnaroo DUI arrest, speakers take “truth in sentencing” signing ceremony on the road (without the guy responsible for signing bills).

— From the campaign trail: Channeling “Ole Fred” and blasting the Jan. 6 investigation in the 5th District race.

— Obituary: Bryant Millsaps, who was at the center of statehouse power struggles, dies at 75.

Also: Bill Hagerty goes golfing with Donald Trump, bogus ballots in Shelby County cross party lines, a Franklin road gets renamed after Connie Clark, and the crab walk comes to the Capitol.

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

Or subscribe here.

Hargett charged with DUI after Bonnaroo visit

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Secretary of State Tre Hargett has been charged with drunken driving after attending the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Coffee County.

Hargett was at the event from Friday afternoon through around 11:30 p.m. when he was stopped by Tullahoma police. He was given a blood test and charged with DUI.

“Driving Under the Influence is a serious matter, and I regret the circumstances that led to my arrest,” Hargett said in a statement. “I respect law enforcement and will trust the legal process as we move forward.”

Hargett is a former state House minority leader who was elected by a joint convention of the legislature to his first four-year term as secretary of state in 2009.

Here are the counties holding primaries for school board

Under a new law passed last month, county parties can decide whether to hold primaries for school board elections rather than going with nonpartisan contests. According to Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office, Republican primaries will be held 56 counties along with Democratic ones in 32.

Here is the full list:

Republican primariesDemocratic Primaries
AndersonBlount
BedfordBradley
BentonCarroll
BlountCarter
BradleyCoffee
CannonDavidson
CarrollDeKalb
CarterFayette
CheathamHamblen
ChesterHamilton
CoffeeHardeman
CrockettHawkins
CumberlandJefferson
DavidsonKnox
DecaturLoudon
DeKalbMadison
FayetteMarion
FranklinMcMinn
GraingerMonroe
GreeneMontgomery
HamblenObion
HamiltonPolk
HardemanRobertson
HardinSevier
HawkinsSmith
HendersonSullivan
HumphreysSumner
JeffersonWashington
KnoxWeakley
LawrenceWhite
LoudonWilliamson
MaconWilson
Madison
Marion
McMinn
Meigs
Monroe
Montgomery
Obion
Overton
Polk
Putnam
Rhea
Robertson
Rutherford
Sevier
Smith
Sullivan
Sumner
Tipton
Van Buren
Washington
Weakley
White
Williamson
Wilson
Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), second from right, was a main sponsor of the partisan school board bill.

One day only: TN constitution to go on display for Statehood Day

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

A release from Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State Library and Archives is celebrating 225 years of statehood on June 1, 2021, with a one-day-only public display of Tennessee’s three original constitutions.

The state’s constitutions, first written in 1796 and revised in 1834 and 1870, will all be on display in the lobby of the new Library and Archives building located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way N. on the northeast corner of the Bicentennial Mall State Park in Nashville on Tuesday, June 1 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT.

In addition to viewing these priceless documents, which the Tennessee Highway Patrol Honor Guard will safeguard, guests can explore the interactive exhibits in the Library and Archives lobby and take a tour of the new building. Library and Archives staff will give tours every half hour from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“Tennessee’s three constitutions are the foundation of our state government,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I encourage my fellow Tennesseans not to miss this opportunity to make history come alive by seeing these irreplaceable documents up close.”

The Library and Archives, a division of the Department of State, is responsible for collecting and preserving books and records of historical, documentary and reference value, focusing on items related to Tennessee. Tennessee’s constitutions are the highest valued and most historically significant items in the collection.

“The Library and Archives strives to be a resource for researchers, historians, librarians, archivists, genealogists, lawyers, students and anyone interested in Tennessee history,” said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist. “Our staff is excited to welcome visitors to our new building and to share our state’s three constitutions and other interactive exhibits.”

The Library and Archives is joining Bicentennial Mall State Park and the Tennessee State Museum for a variety of events to celebrate Tennessee’s 225th Statehood Day.

Bicentennial Mall State Park is celebrating Statehood Day and its 25th anniversary on June 1 with a special event at 10 a.m. in the Amphitheater followed by guided tours and educational programs led by park rangers. For more information about the 25th-anniversary celebration, visit tnstateparks.info/BiMall25thAnn.

To celebrate Tennessee’s Statehood, the Tennessee State Museum launched Tennessee at 225: Highlights from the Collection, a self-guided tour and online exhibition showcasing artifacts that tell a story about Tennessee, from its First Peoples to the present day. Learn more at tnmuseum.org/TN225.

The Statehood Day events at the Library and Archives, Bicentennial Mall State Park and the Tennessee State Museum are free. Reservations are not required.

For the latest information from the Library and Archives, follow their social media channels: Facebook: Tennessee State Library and Archives and Instagram: @tnlibarchives and the Secretary of State’s Twitter account: @SecTreHargett.

For more information about the Library and Archives and the other divisions of the Department of State, visit sos.tn.gov.

AP: State election coordinator’s memo served as basis for judge ouster resolution

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Election Coordinator Mark Goins helped lay the groundwork for a controversial resolution to oust a respected Nashville judge for a ruling to expand access to absentee voting during the pandemic, according to public records obtained by the AP’s Kimberlee Kruesi and Jonathan Mattise.

Goins sent a five-page memo outlining his complaints about Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle to Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), the sponsor of the resolution that would gain as many as 67 cosponsors before it was killed in a House subcommittee last week. Goins said he wrote the memo at Rudd’s request about a month before the resolution was filed.

According to emails obtained by the AP, Rudd’s assistant sent a Jan. 20 email saying the lawmaker was “in need of verbiage and information for this resolution.” According to Goins’ memo:

“Chancellor Lyle issued numerous orders and expressed her opinion ranging from ordering ministerial checklists, destroying accurate election documents, using her specific language for instructions and websites, to challenging statutory language regarding voting fraud. The practical effect was she became the de facto Coordinator of Elections when it came to voting by-mail.”

Goins also took issue with Lyle’s “tone” during proceedings.

Lyle in June told Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office “shame on you” for taking matters into its own hands by modifying her absentee balloting order without first seeking approval from the court. Goins the previous week had told county election commissions to “hold off” on following Lyle’s order while his office revised application forms and sought a stay.

The state’s creation of a new category for voters unwilling to risk their health was criticized as sowing uncertainty about whether ballots would be counted if the decision is later overturned. While Lyle declined plaintiffs’ motion to impose sanctions for the unauthorized changes, she ordered the state to revise its forms to include concerns over COVID-19 among the existing qualifications for people too ill to vote in person. If her ruling isn’t followed, she warned, criminal contempt proceedings could follow.

“Chancellor publicly chastised defendants saying, ‘Shame on You’ and threatened criminal contempt,” Goins wrote. “However, Chancellor Lyle did not ‘shame’ or ‘threaten to hold in contempt’ the multiple plaintiffs who voted in-person even though they signed a verified complaint under oath in her court saying they did not want to risk their health by voting in-person and needed to vote by mail.”

Goins and Hargett promoted news coverage of the plaintiffs’ decisions to vote in person while the lawsuit was going on.

Read the full AP story here.

Hargett signs letter opposing federal voting bill

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee’s Tre Hargett has signed onto a letter from from Republican secretaries of state opposing legislation in congress aiming to set national voting guidelines. The letter is written by John Merrill of Alabama and signed by 15 other top state election officials.

The letter comes as Tennessee’s Attorney General Herbert Slatery has also joined Republican colleagues from other states in opposing the legislation.

Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and House Minority Leader McCarthy:

We are writing you today to urge you to reject the “For the People Act” otherwise known as H.R. 1 or S. 1, which is a dangerous overreach by the federal government into the administration of elections.

Each state legislature should have the freedom and flexibility to determine practices that best meet the needs of their respective states. A one-size-fits-all approach mandated by Congress is not the solution to any of our problems.

These bills intrude upon our constitutional rights, and further sacrifice the security and integrity of the elections process. We firmly believe the authority to legislate and regulate these changes should be left with the states.

H.R. 1 and S. 1 blatantly undermine the extensive work we, as election officials, have completed in order to provide safe, accessible voting options for our constituencies. Many of the proposed practices would reverse the years of progress that has been made. We are strongly opposed to these bills and hope you will dismiss efforts to advance this legislation.

Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter.

/SIGNED/

John H. Merrill
Alabama Secretary of State

Kevin Meyer
Alaska Lieutenant Governor

Brad Raffensperger
Georgia Secretary of State

Connie Lawson
Indiana Secretary of State

Scott Schwab
Kansas Secretary of State

Michael Adams
Kentucky Secretary of State

Kyle Ardoin
Louisiana Secretary of State

Bob Evnen
Nebraska Secretary of State

Alvin A. Jaeger
North Dakota Secretary of State

Steve Barnett
South Dakota Secretary of State

Tre Hargett
Tennessee Secretary of State

Mac Warner
West Virginia Secretary of State

Ed Buchanan
Wyoming Secretary of State

New Library and Archives building to open April 13

A rendering of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Building (Image credit: Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office)

The new Tennessee State Library and Archives building is scheduled to open on April 13. Secretary of State Tre Hargett is organizing a parade for the transfer of Tennessee first three constitutions to the new facility on Monday.

The $124 million structure — which some critics have dubbed the Taj Ma-Hargett — has been under construction since 2017. It is located across from the new Tennessee State Museum on Bicentennial Mall.

The Archives are under the jurisdiction of the legislative branch of government, while the museum falls under the aegis of the executive branch.

Here’s the release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State Library and Archives, TSLA, is scheduled to open to the public on April 13, 2021, in its new location on the northeast corner of the Bicentennial Mall at the intersection of Rep. John Lewis Way N. and Jefferson St.

“It is an exciting time for TSLA as we are only weeks away from opening the doors to this important resource for our great state,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “This state-of-the-art facility will ensure Tennessee’s history will be properly preserved and accessible for generations to come.”

After more than a year of preparation, TSLA staff started moving and installing collections and exhibits in the new building at the beginning of February.

“Countless hours of planning by our staff has gone into carefully and thoughtfully transporting our historical documents, manuscripts and collections,” said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist.

“Thanks to the dedication of our staff and the professionalism of our moving contractor, most of the 500,000 books and 40,000 boxes of archival material in our collection will be available for Tennesseans when we open our doors in April.”

The new 165,000 square foot facility includes a climate-controlled chamber for safely storing historic books and manuscripts with a space-saving robotic retrieval system. A new blast freezer will allow TSLA staff to help save materials damaged by water or insects following floods and other disasters. The new facility also has classrooms for student groups and meeting space for training librarians and archivists.

The larger and more technologically advanced building is a major upgrade from TSLA’s current 1950s era home. The new facility has the much needed space to properly house collections, improved climate controls and increased handicapped access. The extra space and efficiency will increase TSLA’s capacity by nearly 40 percent from 542,700 to 759,500 items.

The 110th General Assembly approved funding in 2017 and 2018 for the new facility. Although the project timeline was adjusted slightly after the March 2020 tornados, construction remained within the $123.8 million budget.

A ribbon cutting event will be held on April 12, with virtual viewing details forthcoming. The new building will open to the public with limited capacity due to COVID-19 safe precautions on April 13.

For the latest information about the new building opening, follow the TSLA’s social media channels: Facebook: Tennessee State Library and Archives and Instagram: @tnlibarchives along with the Secretary of State’s Twitter account: @SecTreHargett.

About the Tennessee State Library and Archives
The office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett oversees the operations of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. By law, it is required to preserve Tennessee’s legal and civic history by housing the archives of state government and collections of records from families, churches, businesses and organizations. TSLA is home to many notable historic documents including Tennessee’s Constitutions, letters from Tennessee’s three presidents, Civil War diaries, records of 55 past Governors of the State and original records and maps of the State of Franklin. The collections include copies of virtually every book published about Tennessee and Tennesseans. Original documents from court cases and legislation along with audio recordings of legislative proceedings since 1955 are preserved by TSLA. Copies of the records from every Tennessee courthouse and all surviving Tennessee newspapers can also be viewed in the library’s collections.

Update: Dems force vote, abstain on re-election of Secretary of State Hargett

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee Democrats objected to re-electing Secretary of State Tre Hargett by acclamation, forcing a roll call vote on another four-year term. Hargett went on to win 112 votes out of a possible 132.

The move by Democrats was largely symbolic, as Republican supermajorities in both chambers.

“In the middle of a pandemic, the secretary of state used the power of his office to undermine voter safety and kill bipartisan election reforms that would have made voting easier and more accessible to all Tennesseans,” Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro said in a statement. “We cannot, in good conscience, support his appointment to a new four-year term.”

The joint convention also re-elected David Lillard as treasurer and voted for Jason Mumpower to succeed Justin Wilson as comptroller.

Here’s the full release from the Democrats:


NASHVILLE – Democratic leadership in the General Assembly will cast a vote of no confidence on Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s nomination for a new four-year term citing his office’s record of pushing anti-democratic legislation and repeated court losses.

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly will appoint a secretary of state during a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives today.

Democratic leaders from both chambers say they expect the secretary of state to a be figure who unites lawmakers around proposals that make it safer and easier for people to vote, regardless of party or zip code.

“In the middle of a pandemic, the secretary of state used the power of his office to undermine voter safety and kill bipartisan election reforms that would have made voting easier and more accessible to all Tennesseans,” Sen. Jeff Yarbro, the Senate minority leader, said. “We cannot, in good conscience, support his appointment to a new four-year term.”

“Tennessee has become one of the most difficult states to cast a vote in and, as a result, voter participation in Tennessee is among the worst in the nation,” House Democratic Leader Rep. Karen Camper said. “Our secretary of state should be a champion for voters, a leader who is consistently committed to ensuring every eligible voter has an equal chance to participate in our elections.”

“Too often over his tenure, Secretary Hargett’s office has entangled the state in costly and unnecessary lawsuits,” Rep. Vincent Dixie, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said. “Instead of pushing unconstitutional legislation that suppresses the vote and wastes our resources, we should be working in partnership to address real problems, like updating the many outdated and corruptible voting machines throughout the state.”

“Despite the outcome of today’s vote, our caucuses will continue working on common sense reforms that empower voters and protect our elections,” Sen. Raumesh Akbari, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, said. “Voter registration should be automatic. Every voter should have the option to vote by mail. Every voter should be able to verify their votes on a paper ballot. We can make a lot of progress quickly if we work together.