Maggart and Gay running campaign against Rep. Rodgers?
RTP received a tip for what all intent and purposes appears to be from the email account of Beth Cox, the candidate recruited by the establishment GOP types (i.e., Haslam, Harwell) to run against conservative Rep. Courtney Rodgers in the August GOP primary.
But when we opened the attachments and read the contents we were dumbfounded. Surely, we thought, this had to be someone hacking Cox’s email account. Why would anyone in their right mind send this to Rocky Top and not expect the butt whippin’ we are about to deliver? Of course, there could be other reasons why Beth Cox sent this to us:
- She was drunk.
- She thought it might impress Paul Goode.
- She meant to send her personal phone number to Jeremy Durham.
- She was drunk.
It begins with a suggestion from state GOP executive committee member, Melissa Gay. It looks legit, but you readers of Rocky Top (both of you) decide for yourselves if Beth Cox really did send this to us:
Regular readers of Rocky Top will remember Ms. Gay was at the center of the slimy state GOP effort to pack the delegation to the national convention with anti-Trump people (“Meet the Moles”). So the ever-helpful Melissa is seen here ghost-writing Facebook posts for candidate Cox. No word on whether her spin efforts ever made it into the que on Cox’s Facebook account.
But Ms. Gay has a bigger problem. You see, there is a niggling little rule in the state GOP by-laws that staff and SEC members are not allowed to take part in contested GOP primaries. We guess when Melissa took the oath of office to be an SEC member, she crossed her fingers behind her back and lied through her teeth that she would be neutral in party primaries.
Lyin’ Melissa just blew by all that with nary a care, probably because she knew chairman Ryan Haynes wouldn’t take any action against her. After all, SEC state secretary Christi Cross got clean away with interfering in a primary (“Pissed to the Roots”). And Haynes has allowed the wife of the state’s political director to make a quick buck by working against incumbent conservative state GOP legislators (“On What Planet…?”).. So abusing the rules is really no big deal to these guys.
Ah, but it doesn’t end there. Oh, no. Also in Beth Cox’s misguided email, was this little ditty:
Debra Maggart, who was trounced by Courtney Rodgers in the primary four years ago, just can’t give it up. Maggart was unceremoniously thrown out of office by the voters when she was caught lying (do we detect a pattern here?) about supporting 2nd Amendment rights. Now we see she is still trying to replay her political humiliation by writing press releases for Beth Cox to use against Rodgers. Time to dust off the ol’ restraining order on Debra.
So there you have it. A seething, bitter, rule-breaking, prevaricating cabal of three individuals who just can’t seem to get a life, or one of the best hacking jobs we’ve seen since Hillary got hacked? We think you know the answer.
We just hope Beth Cox finds the “person” who “hacked” her account and “manufactured” damning emails from Debra Maggart and Melissa Gay.
If she can do that, she should volunteer to help O.J. find the real killer.
Starrett can dish it, but proves he can’t take it.
After dumping all over Conf. Scott DesJarlais, Californian Grant Starrett squealed like a stuck pig when DesJarlais returned the favor. Starrett pompously demanded both candidates “refrain from personal attacks and talk about the issues.”
After spending nearly a million dollars from his parents’ trust fund, the Starrett campaign has only been able to come up with 2 or 3 obscure votes that he has used as his entire justification for replacing DesJarlais. Lacking traction with the voters, he rolled out a rather pitiful attempt to dissuade the DesJarlais camp from talking about the 5,000 lb. elephant in the room – you know, that Grant Starrett is a carpetbagging dilettante from California who has never even voted in a congressional election in the district he seeks to represent in Congress.
Starrett issued his proclamation, then immediately proceeded to attack DesJarlais personally.
So much for détente from the dilettante.
News Flash for Grant: Politics in Tennessee ain’t beanbag, surfer boy. Maybe that is how they do it on the “Whine & Brie” circuit in your hometown of Beverly Hills, but around these parts you strap on your big girl panties and refrain from sticking out your lower lip whenever you discover there are some things your parents’ money can’t buy.
If we can tear ourselves away from the Republican National Convention for a moment, we need to realize the important election that is fast approaching. We are, of course talking about the 2018 August primary, two years from next month. 2018? That’s right, Rocky Top wants to take a moment to reflect on what we know is of the utmost concern to all you political hacks and politicians dripping with ambition.
Yep, that’s right—for all the drama of Crooked Hillary and The Donald this year, it is likely to pale in campaign comparison with what is shaping up to be a real slobber-knocker of an election in Tennessee in 2018.
RTP is going to take the lead on this — especially since no asked us to – and start the Way-Down-The-Road-Early-Political-Prognostication and begin speculating what happens next.
So get out those spread sheets, call a meeting at the water cooler and ante up for the office pool. The 2018 political season begins in just over three months.
2018 Primary Palooza?
If a political harmonic convergence takes place, we could see the most number of open seats and hotly contested Republican primaries in Volunteer state history. It all starts with the junior Senator from Chattanooga:
Corker runs for governor or gets a tough primary opponent – Corker’s finances continue to dog him and word from DC is they are about to get much worse. There is already one Ethics complaint against him and there are rumors of more to come. Even if Corker can parry the charges of insider trading, magically disappearing loans, sweetheart land deals, etc., etc. there are persistent rumors that he will be seriously challenged in the primary in 2018. Even if Trump is elected president, Corker’s financial mess is likely to knock him out of a major cabinet position (the consensus among Trump insiders is that Corker’s withdrawal from the Veep sweepstakes was reportedly the result of Trump letting him save face after the vetting process revealed Bob had more baggage than a Samsonite dealer). If Trump loses or by-passes Bob and/or the Republicans lose the Senate, Corker may conclude his political future lay elsewhere. At that point Bob may grab his gubernatorials and run for governor. Why not cap his career with the job he first lusted after many years ago – Governor of Tennessee?
Haslam runs for Corker’s Senate seat – Ah yes, the ol’ switcheroo. What’s an out-of-work billionaire do with his free time? Why, run for the “most exclusive club in the world” — the U.S. Senate. If Corker and Haslam delay their decisions to the last minute (say, late March), it will be difficult if not impossible for someone else to enter the race and plunk down the mega bucks and name ID they can bring to the table on short notice. Think of what happened in 2002 when Fred Thompson decided to retire from the senate AND not run for governor. That’s how Lamar got in the Senate (and, now that we think about it, how Phil Bredesen won the governorship).
Diane Black runs for Governor – that is a foregone conclusion that could only be disrupted by Diane losing to Joe Carr in two weeks. Unconfirmed reports that Carr is leading have bounced around the convention floor this week and Diane and her supporter do seem a mite defensive for an incumbent who is outspending her opponent a gazillion-to-one. If she loses, it will trigger a political earthquake for the establishment wing of the party. If she wins, look for her to kick off her governor’s campaign faster than you can get a carry permit.
Marsha Blackburn runs for something – While Corker is looking forward to a Trump administration, he may want to look over his shoulder at the popular conservative.
There are lots of other potential candidates — who RTP will discuss in later posts — but the above gives you a taste of what we can expect.
Bonus Round: The rumors about Lamar’s health have been rampant and so has the speculation that he will not serve out his full term, which ends in 2020. That would open another U.S. Senate seat. Who would fill that? Anyone with a deep pocket (like maybe Randy Boyd?).
The campaign consultant Full Employment Act of 2018
Just think of it — 2018 could see two open U.S. Senate races, an open governor’s race, at least three or more open congressional seats and all 99 House seats and 17 Senate seats in the General Assembly. They would all be running at the same time and all scrambling for the same pot of money (unless they can stroke a personal check), and most all of the races being decided in the August Republican primary.
The GOP Establishment – who have taken it on the chin in the state legislature of late, can sooth their wounds by manipulating the election calendar, swapping offices and titles by writing big checks, and secure their hold on the three statewide elected positions. Or, they could lose their butts and watch helplessly as the Barbarians finally crash through the Gates.
Now for one more prediction.
Here’s an interesting factoid for all you political junkies out there: Every single time the governor’s chair has been open since 1966, the office has switched parties. Hard to believe? Take a look:
1966 (D) Buford Ellington
1970 (R) Winfield Dunn
1974 (D) Ray Blanton
1978 (R) Lamar Alexander
1986 (D) Ned Ray McWherter
1994 (R) Don Sundquist
2002 (D) Phil Bredesen
2010 (R) Bill Haslam
Weird, huh? 44 years of the governorship switching party hands. If it switches again in 2018, that would make the streak an astonishing 52 years.
Can it be done? Can the Dems offer up an attractive candidate, with executive experience and with deep personal pockets to break through the onslaught of GOP candidates running for every office available and sucking on the same contribution teats as every other Republican candidate? RTP can answer all those questions in just two words:
To close, let’s return to this year’s election and the exciting, informative presidential debate that is already underway. Question of the day:
“Did Ted Cruz last night deliver the longest political suicide note in U.S. history?
“Harwell stressed that the privacy of the victims who came forward should be respected and retaliation against those who did wouldn’t be tolerated.
“I ask that the privacy of the victims in this report be protected, said Harwell. “Anyone who politicizes this is doing a disservice to the victims.”
Oh really? Would that include you, Madame Speaker?
McDaniel said some in the Ad Hoc committee worried about the safety and anonymity of those who came forward.
“We don’t want people to find try to find out who these people are because it would be unfair to them,” McDaniel said. “We spent hours discussing how to avoid making these victims victims again.”
Yeah, well you apparently didn’t spend enough time on that, did you Sparky?
So let’s see if we have this straight: Speaker Harwell, AG Slatery, Chairman Steve McDaniel were all aflutter about preserving the anonymity of the people interviewed. If that was truly the case,
THEN WHY DID THEY LIST THE DAMN NAMES IN APHABETICAL ORDER???
That’s right, all you need to identify almost every name in the report is the simple code:
Hell, we used tougher codes than that when we were passing notes in 5th grade to Susie Simpkins.
It is only a matter of time before someone starts releasing the names. It won’t take long and frankly we are surprised it hasn’t already happened.
In what was already a totally f**ked-up investigation, the Speaker has somehow managed to screw it up even more. Stupidity and/or incompetent conniving is the only way to describe it. Certainly concern for the witnesses wasn’t the first thing on their minds. Only Rep. Billy Spivey had the guts to point this out and refused to sign the letter unless anonymity was addressed. In their rush to get the dirt out on Rep. Pants Candy in time for early voting, the Ad Hoc Committee and leadership blew right by Spivey’s concerns.
“Stupid, incompetent or conniving.” It’s got to be one (or all) of the three, Madame Speaker.
*** RTP EXCLUSIVE ***
Haslam using Obama-backed PAC to fund campaigns against conservative Republicans.
Head of “Stand for Children” is former Obama political campaign operative and Obama White House aide.
Haslam arranges $50,000 in donations from two of his friends to go to the Obama-affiliated PAC.
Dropping all pretense of being a conservative or a Republican, Gov. Bill Haslam has decided to engage in open warfare with the growing conservative wing in the legislature. Incredibly, he is doing it with the help of the Obama political operation.
An organization closely affiliated with Barack Obama is now pumping tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars into contested Republic primaries, buying TV ads and mailings to attack conservatives.
The Stand for Children PAC, is run out of Portland, OR and has a Tennessee chapter. SFC’s national organization is a Who’s-Who of Obama campaign staff, liberal activists and far-left liberal ideologues. Its Nashville director is Daniel O’Donnell, a former Obama for President political operative (2007-2008) and White House liaison (2009-2012). 6 of 8 of its staff are “community organizers” who backed Obama in 2008 and 2012 and are headquartered in Memphis.
The organization is linked to Haslam through its field director, Carter Lawrence, who spent years working for Haslam in both his political campaign and as an aide to the governor. Lawrence’s “token Republican” role appears to be primarily window-dressing for Haslam and his cronies to use the SFC’s state PAC to defeat conservative Republican legislators in the August primary.
For several years the state PAC had carried a balance of only $5. Then in late May it received $50,000 from John and Orrin Ingram, two of Haslam’s most loyal funders and who participated in his previous projects in 2014 that attacked Republicans. In addition, another $36,000 came from the organization’s headquarters in that Portland, Oregon.
FEC reports also reveal that in 2012, the Stand for Children (SFC) federal PAC spent $30,000 in Memphis to support Barack Obama and Cong. Steve Cohen. Since May of this year, the SFC-Haslam-Obama state PAC has dumped out over $53,000 for “polling and research” in Tennessee. At least $15,000 went to the infamous MB Public Affairs in Sacramento, CA whose specialty is invasive “opposition research” to assess “candidate vulnerability” (i.e., dig up dirt on people).
RTP has received reports that in the race for Rep. Womick’s seat, SFC-Haslam-Obama PAC has recently bought $42,000 in TV ads for the establishment candidate, Christy Seigler, who has been trailing in the polls to the more conservative Tim Rudd. In Rep. Charles Sargent’s race, the SFC-Haslam-Obama PAC has already paid for thousands of pieces of mail supporting the Harwell ally Sargent. In the Judd Matheny race, they have already paid for two mailings in support of House Clerk Joe McCord’s former intern (the one intern who may not have been sexually harassed by Jeremy Durham), whom McCord and Harwell recruited to run against Matheny. In the race to fill retiring Rep. Billy Spivey’s seat, it is believed they are funneling money on behalf of Rick Tillis – an establishment candidate who was personally recruited by Speaker Harwell — in meetings held in her speaker’s office — even before Spivey announced his retirement.
While all of this is interesting, the bigger story is the goal of this massive effort to funnel money to select Republican candidates through an organization with blatant liberal and Democratic ties.
Donald Trump won 94 of Tennessee’s 95 counties in the GOP presidential primary, with the conservative Ted Cruz coming in second in most of those. The establishment wing of the GOP bet on Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, etc. had their butts handed to them.
If the great unwashed masses of conservative Tennessee Republicans turn out in similar numbers in the competitive GOP August primaries as they did in the presidential primary, it would be a devastating blow to the Old Guard – one that could cost Beth Harwell her speakership. The conservative wing of the GOP caucus has set much of the agenda the last couple of years (i.e., Hall Tax repeal, end of Common Core, defeat of Medicaid/Obamacare expansion, etc.) and has been steadily growing in numbers over the last couple of years. They may now be positioned to start winning leadership posts and taking control of not only the agenda, but the levers of power as well. That is what has set the leadership and the establishment on edge and has prompted them to spend big to try and hold back the conservative tide, even allying themselves with Barack Obama to do it.
The Stand for Children-Haslam-Obama effort is just one of the more visible battles going on for the soul of the Republican Party. There will be more. Count on it.
Tillis tries to explain his bad NRA rating. Raises more questions.
Rick Tillis, legislative candidate in district 92, squealed when Rocky Top pointed out his grade from the NRA had been magically changed from an abysmal “C” to an “A” after panicked phone calls to the NRA from his establishment friends.
So candidate Rick, smarting from his ever-changing grade, wrote Rocky Top a couple of days ago with this message:
“You need to research your facts a little deeper before posting something that is totally false. I would appreciate a correction sent out by your blog.”
We bet you would, Rick. But alas, you did not offer any specifics as to what precisely we got wrong. So let us help you out.
Where to start? So much stupidity, so little time. Just what part of the hard tangible evidence provided by Rocky Top was false, Rick? The part where the original NRA website said you suck, or the part about Haynes and Harwell making the phone call to the NRA? Sorry, champ – it appears that it is all true.
To further illustrate our impressive capacity for veracity, we offer the latest “Rick Rant” he posted on Facebook the morning after RTP exposed his horrible, no good, miserable NRA rating and the subsequent changing of his grade. This was only up for a short while before someone in his campaign with an IQ higher than a hamster realized it was probably not a good idea (and once again, we thank an anonymous tipster for the screen shot):
Aside from the fractured syntax and incomplete sentences, can anyone tell us what this fool is talking about? Let’s see if we understand this: Tillis says he got a bad score from an organization because he was a member of that organization? Huh?
Notice also that he employs the “I am stupid” defense by saying the questionnaires are confusing. Funny, no one else in the entire election has complained that the NRA questionnaires are confusing. In fact, they are brutally straightforward.
So Rick, we will apologize to you the moment you demonstrate you are able to grab your derriere with both hands. Until then, remember the first rule of gun safety, which also is conveniently the first rule of politics:
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Or the ass.
Rocky Top received a couple of emails from our loyal band of tipsters questioning the accuracy of RTP’s post regarding the changing of an NRA rating for legislative candidate Rick Tillis from a C to an A. We take any challenge to our veracity quite seriously — anyone questioning our truthfulness will be locked in a room with Jeremy Durham, a cooler of beer and trousers full of candy.
The first tipster let us know that Tillis had received a really bad grade from the NRA. That was when one of the crew made a screenshot of the original posting. We are glad we did, because then yet another tipster contacted us and said the grade had been mysteriously changed. Another RTP crew member checked the NRA website, and sure enough, the grade had been changed to an “A.”
The original tipster was someone whom we believe had direct knowledge of the call from Harwell and Haynes to the NRA on Tillis’ behalf. Until that tip, RTP was totally unaware of the discrepancy.
One tipster suggested the grade originally posted on the NRA’s website could have been a fake screen shot. Although the quality of our screen shot was poor, we know firsthand it was definitely not a fake – we got it directly from the NRA website. To prove that point, another helpful tipster provided us with much clearer “before and after” screen shots. Here they are:
Sure looks real to us.
Another helpful tipster pointed out the difference in Tillis’ name, which was changed when they moved him from a C to an A and thought the NRA might have somehow confused him with his brother, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. We too noticed the name difference, but here’s where it gets a little weird. We checked the U.S. Senate, which listed Sen. Tillis’ full name as Thomas Roland Tillis. According to the TN Secretary of State, Rick Tillis’ full name that appears in his candidacy filings is Thomas Richard Tillis.
Very odd that brothers would share the same first name, but it doesn’t seem likely there was any confusion when assigning grades. To make sure, we also looked at previous NRA ratings for Sen. Tillis when he was in the NC legislature and in all the ones we could find, they showed Thom Tillis consistently got an A+ rating from the NRA. So much for somehow accidentally entering the original score for the wrong candidate by mistake.
If the NRA somehow made a mistake, they can always step forward and admit it and explain how it could happen, why they made the change without notifying their members or the visitors to their website and whether they received a call from Harwell and/or Haynes regarding Tillis. Our source swears on a stack of Bibles and first-hand knowledge that the phone call was made. This source has always been dead-on accurate and truthful before and RTP has no reason to doubt the source now.
Our guess is the NRA will not admit to any of this, and that’s okay. The NRA is a great organization (every single member of the RTP crew is an NRA member and all but one of us have carry permits), but even a great organization can be susceptible to political strong-arming. Is that what happened here? Sure looks like it. The physical evidence speaks for itself. But the NRA doesn’t owe RTP an explanation.
Special thanks to the RTP Merry Band of Tipsters for the input. But until proven otherwise, our story stands.
- 416 news articles,
- a five-month investigation,
- 78 witnesses,
- hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars,
- short cutting House Rules and the State Constitution,
- squandering the trust and good will of her fellow legislators
- while raising suspicions she was digging up dirt on all of her political opponents,
Speaker Beth Harwell finally relents and agrees to what was suggested months before she dragged the legislature through this debacle – allow the voters to decide Jeremy Durham’s fate.
Harwell then disingenuously begged that “the privacy of these victims in this report be protected.” This, after she moved heaven and earth to release the very report that identifies these women with only a fig leaf of anonymity.
She added: “Anyone who politicizes this is doing a disservice to the victims.”
Oops! Too late, Beth! You did that when you insisted the report be released. A general summary of the results of the investigation would have sufficed, but no-o-o-o. You had to make sure the most titillating, prurient details were hung up like so much dirty laundry. It’s like the women have now been assaulted by two legislators: Durham and Harwell. But we are confident everyone within earshot of the Speaker will go along with her request, because – Sisterhood!
Ad Hoc Chair Steve McDaniel joined in the drum circle by essentially asking the public not to read the report he had just voted to make public, pleading for everyone to“avoid making these victims victims again.”
What a bunch of incompetent, effin’ hypocrites.
Nevertheless, we suppose some sort of recognition of Harwell’s efforts are in order, so here ya go:
Congratulations, Madame Speaker, on your great “victory!”
Hope it was worth it.
Okay, political hacks and hangers-on, time to place your bets. The question of the day is:
“Will Jeremy Durham win all or any part of his lawsuit against the Attorney General, the Speaker and the Ad Hoc Committee?”
RTP boldly predicts: Probably not.
“But wait,” say the band of believers in the Rule of Law. “What about the Rule of Law? What about the Constitution? What about Due Process? What about the Permanent Rules of the House of Representatives?”
Oh, you silly, naïve neophytes. Where have you been during the Clinton/Obama years? By now, you should have learned the new enlightened central premise of today’s politics:
“Rules are for little people.”
Maybe this judge has a backbone. Maybe his 14 years working for the AG’s office won’t cloud his judgement. Maybe the Tooth Fairy will bring the RTP crew an endless supply of Jack Daniels Single Barrel.
From our reading of the complaint and the AG’s response some things seem clear. The Speaker, the AG and the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee violated House rules and the state Constitution. It is equally clear the AG will argue that none of that matters, since what is important that we get this information out to the public (and just in time for early voting to start).
Yesterday, Breitbart News added more information to their previous reporting, particularly about the people who have been interviewed during the investigation. Some chilling quotes from those who were actually hauled into the Star Chamber:
“They asked more questions about others than they did Jeremy Durham.”
“They briefly asked about him [Durham], but mainly they asked me about ….other legislators. They were hunting down gossip on them.”
“The take away for me was, my God, I am only here to talk about other people.”
“They were on a fishing expedition.”
“It has the appearance they were expanding the scope of the inquiry beyond Jeremy Durham to other legislators. That’s a frightening thought. Somebody’s gathering information for future use.”
If you are a legislator and these words don’t scare the hell out of you, then you are simply not paying attention. Jeremy Durham may be guilty as hell of everything he has been accused of. But that does not excuse the Powers-That-Be from following the law. Especially when the clear signal being sent from the Speaker and others to legislators is “You could be next.”
See you on the Courthouse steps. We’ll be the ones holding the signs that say “Will Blog 4 Booze.”
Win or lose, damage to Harwell already done.
Following the recent reports of an out-of-control investigation about accusations of sexual harassment, the beleaguered Rep. Jeremy Durham filed a lawsuit this afternoon against the Speaker, the Attorney General and the Speaker-created Ad Hoc Committee that was assigned to look into the accusation against him.
Rocky Top sources (specifically, not Durham. None of the RTP crew has spoken to him, nor do we plan to) who are close to the situation say that what prompted Durham was, among other factors, a letter from Rep Rick Womick to the Attorney General outlining numerous violations of the Rules of the Tennessee House of Representatives and the state constitution. The gist of Womick’s letter was that the Speaker did not have the authority to create the committee or to punish Durham unless she brought the matter before the full House – something she promised but never did. The lawsuit filed by Durham’s attorney borrows heavily from the Womick letter, plus adds a few twists of its own, such as violation of due process, etc.
Numerous legislators, including many who are not particularly fond of Durham, believe the Attorney General has been conducting an investigation of a member of the legislature without the authority to do so. There has also been a growing concern that the investigation has metastasized into a political “witch hunt” designed to dig up dirt on political opponents of the Speaker and the Haslam Administration, far beyond its original purpose to investigate Durham.
If Durham is successful in negating the authority and activity of the investigation – an admittedly difficult task to achieve at this point — the political fallout would be enormous. But it won’t take a win in court this week for the political effects to take place. Already, there is growing resentment within the GOP caucus that Harwell has handled the entire matter in an unprofessional and generally incompetent manner. Everyone in the caucus now knows or at least suspects that many of the questions put to the 60+ witnesses went far afield from the original purpose of the investigation and that anyone in the legislative body or staff could soon have their personal dossier in the hands of the Speaker, her allies and the Attorney General. It doesn’t take a conspiracy nut to realize the danger posed by someone with such information.
The trust in Harwell among the caucus has taken a severe beating. So regardless of what happens to Durham in court, Harwell has already been tried and found complicit among her colleagues. IF she remains as Speaker, she will have an extraordinarily difficult time managing the body with this kind of baggage. And she has only herself to blame.
If Durham wins even a partial victory in court, people like Glen Casada (and likely several others) will need to update their resumes for a run for the Speakership. If Durham beats the odds and wins the primary, people will be calling for Harwell to leave faster than David Cameron can say “Brexit.”
Because with or without Durham’s lawsuit, if this whole controversy gets any messier, Harwell is going to have to step down.
You heard it here first.