The AP has a story regarding Speaker Harwell’s amassing $1.3 million dollars in her two PACs, ostensibly for a run for governor in 2018. What the article did not go in into much detail about was the fact that Harwell was not only very stingy with her expenditures for members in general, it’s that her “omissions” are particularly damning.
The governor and his chief of staff Mark Cate (who also tried to recruit primary opposition for several GOP incumbents) approved of and helped coordinate Advance Tennessee PAC. The Washington, D.C.-based PAC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars against six conservative incumbent GOP legislators – and Ms. Harwell was and continues to be absolutely silent regarding their actions. She has not said one word publicly condemning the governor, Cate nor the others for their attacks on fellow Republicans.
Not. One. Word.
But digging deeper into her PACs’ expenditures reveals even more damning confirmation of her collusion with the attacks on conservatives. Even though 5 of the 6 legislators won their re-election despite the attacks, the most recent reports reveal Harwell did not given any of them a single penny to help fend off those attacks (or, for that matter, help them pay off debts they incurred fending of the onslaught of negative TV ads and mailers).
Not. One. Dime.
Contrast this to the hundreds of thousands she contributed and raised for incumbent Republican Debra Maggart when Maggart found herself in primary trouble in 2012. Harwell made scores of personal calls to nearly every incumbent legislator (included some of those who came under attack by Advance Tennessee), dunning them for $1,700 each for the Maggart defense fund.
Seems Speaker Harwell’s loyalty to GOP caucus members is situational, conditional and problematic. Not only is she greedily collecting contributions like an Electrolux set on “Maximum Suck” and keeping almost all of it for herself, her track record shows she is more than willing to spend other legislators’ money without doing the same.
Her opponent in the Speaker’s race, Rep. Rick Womick, was being kind when he referred to her actions as “insincere.”
But RTP isn’t bound by such comity, so we will tell it like it is: What Harwell has done is not leadership. It is self-serving betrayal. Pure and simple.
And every legislator needs to go into next week’s caucus elections with their eyes wide open and realize – they could be the next targets of the crass vindictiveness of Harwell and her allies.
It’s a secret ballot, so………