Wall Street Journal

Burchett takes to WSJ opinion section to decry proxy voting in Congress

U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today denouncing the ongoing practice of proxy voting and virtual meetings in Congress.

“I didn’t run for Congress to sit on Zoom in my district office or to have one of my colleagues cast votes on my behalf,” Burchett writes. “These often-abused protocols were implemented in response to a pandemic that is in retreat.”

The current rules are “ineffective and abused by members of both parties,” he writes. Some GOP members used proxy voting so they could attend a CPAC meeting in February, while Democrats have done so to campaign or accompany President Joe Biden on a trip to Wisconsin, according to Burchett. He is similarly critical of virtual meetings.

“Policy experts work in Washington offices, where these hearings should be taking place in person,” Burchett said.

While Burchett sees bipartisan lapses, he blames the current state of affairs on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Exploitation of the House’s coronavirus protocols won’t stop unless the rules change so that members are expected to show up to work and do their jobs,” Burchett said. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to take a step back, look at the rest of the country, and re-evaluate how she is running the House.”

Pilot whitewash? No mention of fraud scandal in WSJ’s Jimmy Haslam feature

Wall Street Journal feature on Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam is titled “How America’s Largest Truck Stop Owner Stays on the Right Path.” If you assumed the article would mention how Pilot recently fell off that path in a big way, you’d be mistaken.

Federal agents raided Pilot’s Knoxville headquarters in 2013 in an investigation into diesel rebate fraud. Secretly recorded conversations revealed members of the sales team deriding trucking company clients as unsophisticated and lazy. The company’s former president and more than a dozen members of the sales team were convicted of federal charges and Pilot paid $85 million to settle with most of the defrauded customers along with a  a $92 million penalty to the government.

Jimmy Haslam, who owns the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, wasn’t charged in the case and claimed he didn’t know about the wrongdoing. In the aftermath of the fraud scandal, the Haslam family sold a major share in the privately held company to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (which will grow to an 80% stake in 2023).

In the Wall Street Journal “Personal Board of Directors” feature about executives’ closest advisers, Haslam lists:

— Former U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Chattanooga) a former college fraternity brother.

— Former Saks Inc. CEO R. Brad Martin, a member of the Pilot board since 1988.

— Former Walmart CEO Lee Scott, a Pilot board member since 2010.

— Steve Diggs, president and CEO of the Emerald Youth Foundation, a Christian nonprofit in Knoxville.