The mystery of P.O. Box 1292
The gang here at RTP just loves a good Whodunnit. And there is a doozy brewing down in Alabama that has tentacles reaching all the way to Tennessee.
The Alabama Education Association (AEA), having been helped run into the ground by their former and present leadership, is essentially bankrupt and was on the losing end of a hostile takeover by the National Education Association (NEA) last month. It seems that ever since the Republican-led state legislature in Montgomery clamped down on the teachers union’s notorious lobbying and millions in political contributions to Democrats, things haven’t been so good at the AEA. In fact, its critics believe the AEA was borrowing large sums of money against their membership’s dues so that they could plow money into the primary campaigns of RINO candidates through a series of phony front groups in a desperate attempt to try and buy influence with the new GOP majority after decades of supporting only Democrats and trashing everything Republican.
But the AEA’s troubles did not begin with the disasters of 2014. There had been rumors of similar questionable financial dealings and political strategies going back to the 2012 election and before which resulted in the desertion of thousands of their members, loss of income, staff reductions, etc. Immediately following the election in 2012, even the communications director/spokesperson/board member of the AEA – who was also a former political director of the Alabama Democratic state party – abandoned ship and moved to another state, taking a job with another teachers union. He had been at the AEA for over six years and was a key player in its downfall.
Which leads us to the Tennessee connection with the troubled Alabama union. Reporters investigating the unusual financial situation of the AEA discovered a $2 million dollar loan taken out by the union. The largest expenditure from that fund was $710,000 written to an outfit called National Research Services. The only information provided by the AEA disclosure reports was that the money went to a P.O. Box (#1292) in Brentwood, TN (photo at top of page).
The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office said it had no filings of any company by that name doing business in the state. Internet searches also reveal no useful information about such a company. More troubling was the fact National Research Services was incorporated in Delaware on a Friday, then received the $710,000 in its Brentwood PO box the following Monday, which it then spent on advertising for legislative candidates in Alabama. Nah, that’s not suspicious at all.
So what’s the deal? Well for one thing, it seems highly likely the National Research Services LLC, with offices housed solely in a P.O. box in Brentwood, is a front organization intent on hiding the ultimate purpose of large political financial transactions laundered through the mail by the AEA. But why Tennessee?
If the AEA’s scheme of trying to stave off growing irrelevance by attempting to compromise the Alabama Republican caucus by funding RINOS in GOP primaries sounds familiar, it should. That is practically the same scheme the TEA has been trying here in Tennessee with independent expenditures and strategic contributions to select Republican legislators and candidates. RTP reported on this a ways back.
Remember that Democratic Party operative/senior AEA official who hightailed it out of town and took another job with another teachers union in another state? Could it possibly be that this person’s old friends back in Alabama asked for their former employee’s help in “laundering” nearly three quarters of a million dollars for political purposes? Might they have asked him to open a P.O. box somewhere outside of Alabama to avoid prying eyes? Could it be that a possible AEA scandal brewing in Alabama could ensnare this recent transplant now living in Tennessee?
More specifically, could that person be Jim Wrye — the governmental affairs and communications director for the TEA?
It is not an idle question. Running that much money through a political organization without leaving a paper trail is a risky proposition, to say the least. There are possible state and local tax implications, disclosure filings, among other things.
To add to our circumstantial case, let’s take a look at the exact location of the Brentwood Post Office where box #1292 is located. And let’s take a look at the route Jim Wrye reportedly takes every day from his home in Franklin to the Tennessee state capitol and the TEA offices downtown:
Twice a day, Jim Wrye passes within a few feet of the Brentwood Post Office, just step away from the Old Hickory exit on I-65, on his way to lobby for the union. Oh sure, we know lots of people from Franklin drive by that post office everyday on their way to work. But how many of them are a past senior official of the AEA and a current senior official of the TEA? Just one – Jim Wrye.
To all of this, we say: “How convenient.”
Let’s make one thing clear: RTP is not accusing TEA lobbyist Jim Wrye of anything, illegal or otherwise, at this point. But we think it is perfectly reasonable and legitimate that someone should be asking Jim Wrye what he might know about the AEA’s Alabama problems (after all, it was during his tenure at the AEA that the scheme that bankrupted that union began).
And what could he tell us about the $710,000 deposited in P.O. Box 1292 in Brentwood, TN?
UTK “diversity officer” delivers possibly the most ridiculous political correctness edict yet.
Maybe xe will change xir mind when xir job is eliminated by the legislature.
It’s hard to make this stuff up. Resident UTK political correctness hack, Donna Braquet, actually posted the article below on the unicersity’s information system. Even more remarkable was that Braquet was actually paid to do so. Read the whole thing. It’s hard to comprehend a more idiotic and asinine diatribe, even from the wooly-headed liberals at the state’s land-grant university.
Mrs./Miss/Ms./Mr. Braquet heads up something called the Pride Center for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (it’s right down the hall from Office of Stupid Services and the Dept. of Removing One’s Head from One’s Butt). Here is Braquet’s advice to students and faculty. RTP has helpfully highlighted the most idiotic passages. It was hard to choose which statements were the most stupid, since the entire piece is a politically correct pile of nonsense:
Aw, c’mon. Tell us she made those words up.
But, hey, maybe anyone can play the “let’s make up a word to prove our leftist ignorance” game. Here’s a new word: “bulitch.” Let’s practice using “bulitch” in a sentence.
“Bob finally tired of listening to his college professor try to indoctrinate him with zir Marxist bullcrap, so he bulitch-slapped zir just to shut zir the hell up.”
Here’s another gender-friendly politically correct phrase liberals should love: “nolegul alluns,” as in:
“Instead of securing our border, why don’t we let all the nolegul alluns who broke into our country stay here, put them on welfare, and make them vote only for Democrats? Man, wouldn’t that be bulitchin’?”
More from Mrs./Miss/Ms./Mr. Braquet:
“We should not assume someone’s gender by their appearance…. People who do not identify within the gender binary may use…pronouns of the gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth.”
Can anyone please tell us what the hell this chucklehead is talking about? Everywhere across the land, doctors in delivery rooms are saying things like, “The baby’s out and doing fine. It has a penis. So should we call it a boy, or should we just make up a third sex so as to show we are no longer the misogynistic racist homophobes the reactionary right-wing professors taught us to be when we were in med school?”
“Or we could just say: “Congratulations, Mrs. Johnson. It’s a Caitlyn.”
Our favorite line, though is this one:
“These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new. The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze [them] when growing up.”
Yeah, sort of like how strange it would sound now if when we were little we had been taught the “N-word” was actually a term of endearment.
Oh, and what are Braquet’s qualifications for being UT’s Head Matron of Political Correctness? It’s probably not because she/xe is the librarian for the Biology Dept. (which she is), which requires an intimate knowledge of the Dewey Decimal system and frog dissections. No, it is undoubtedly because Ms. Braquet was also the director of the university’s LGBTQQ diversity center (yeah, we had to look that up too). The “QQ” stands for “queer and questioning” (swear to God we are not making this stuff up).
Well we got a question for Ms. Braquet. How about the 99.9% of the student body who are not “gender challenged?” Think they might need someone to be their advocate? Nah. They are probably too busy exerting their white privilege and “manspreading” to worry about what you freakin’ weirdos are cooking up down at the local LGBTQQ-WTF? bar.
Here’s another thought – let’s take these gender neutral pronouns to Neyland Stadium. Let’s see what happens when the Vol’s quarterback tries complimenting the defensive tackle for Alabama for delivering a good hit with a sporting comment like:
“Nice play. Xe sure grow xe big down in Alabama. Is your #2 parental unit at the game today? I bet ze is really proud of zir little boy/girl.”
After the Bama linebacker punches the snot out of our quarterback, he will likely double back and give the xyr a kick in xyr’s doo-dads just to punctuate his point.
Paying the salaries for intellectual imbeciles like Mrs./Miss/Ms/Whatever Braquet certainly justifies all those tuition increases, doesn’t it? Any legislator want to take this one on? It’ll be like shooting fish in a barrel.
As we go to press, we have still heard no condemnation or public comment of any kind from the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the university regarding the latest in a string of public relations disasters (remember Sex Week, butt-chugging and Lane Kiffen?). Who’s the chairman, you ask? Gov. Bill Haslam.
But seriously, knowing Haslam’s track record, did you really expect xir to say or do anything? It’s sort of like xe’s the state’s first gender neutral governor,
Reports this morning that Rep. Andy Holt may be fined for run-off from his now-closed hog farm. To put this into a little perspective, take a look at what EPA itself did just a couple of weeks ago:
Did anyone at the EPA get fined? Fired? Reprimanded? Lose recess privileges? Nah, they got away with only an apology.
We’ll believe such pollution is a pervasive problem when the federal government starts policing itself with as much vigor as it does when it goes after private citizens. Will the EPA let Andy Holt off if he apologizes? No, of course not. Rules are for the little people — not the bureaucrats.
Some people will crawl into bed with anyone for the money.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A former Democratic congressman and a prominent Republican political operative on Tuesday called for ending untraceable spending for and against candidates in Tennessee and around the country.
In a stunning display of avaricious chutzpah, two “Republican” operatives have gone way beyond the raising of questions and moved straight to confirmation of their complete lack of principles. Strong words, we know, for a profession filled with many whose moral relativity knows no bounds.
The crew at RTP are no strangers to the – ahem — rationalization that frequently accompanies matters of political expedience, but the recent activities of Tom Ingram and Kim Kaegi are breathtaking in their audacity.
Let’s start with Ingram. Tom has long been suspected by many to be a Republican of convenience, to put it mildly. Some of the less charitable types have flat out called him a closet Democrat. RTP would prefer to refer to him as a quisling (which Wikipedia defines as “someone who collaborates with the enemy.”) Seems like a rather appropriate label for Ingram.
Never one to let a principled position stand in the way of making a buck or generating a favorable news article, Ingram most recently teamed up with former congressman John Tanner (D-TN) for a roundtable discussion where they bemoaned the growth of independent expenditure PACS. In his convoluted way of thinking Ingram claimed if something wasn’t done to silence such expenditures, then the only people who could run for major office would have to be “self-funders.” Ingram should know – he has made a fortune working for self-funders such as Bob Corker and Bill Haslam. The rather obvious logic ignored by Ingram is that the only way to compete with the fat wallets of the Haslams and Corkers of the world is for a candidate to find one or more wealthy benefactors who can help level the playing field. What Ingram is actually upset about it that his biggest clients can no longer buy a seat just by opening their personal checkbook.
It’s a little difficult for Ingram to try and stake out the moral high ground when he has such a long record of dropping his political pants every time he hears a “ka-ching” coming from anyone worth a few million (or billion) dollars.
Getting a Bone(r)
But ol’ Tom doesn’t stop with just working for wealthy Republicans. Where the “quisling” really comes out in him is when he cashes in with Democrat candidates, like he did with Charles Bone, Jr.’s recent failed race for Nashville mayor (Nashville once had a mayor by the name of Bill Boner. This stuff just writes itself, doesn’t it?) Ingram tries to put a fig leaf over his niblets by hilariously claiming the race is “non-partisan.” To that claim, RTP and everyone with an honest bone (pun intended) in their body would reply: “What a load of crap.”
Just a brief perusal of the Bone family’s political contribution history reveals massive amounts of money given almost exclusively to Democrats, making them one of the largest Democrat contributors in the nation. The list is amazing: Gore, Tanner, DCCC, DNC, Democratic state parties in multiple states, Harold Ford Jr., etc. The Bones even gave Obama over $45,000 and Charles, Jr. was a member of Obama’s national finance committee – can’t be much more of a liberal Democrat than that. And let’s not forget their numerous contributions to former Cong. Lincoln Davis (D-TN). Why is that important, you ask? Because when Ingram needed to hire a lobbyist to work with the super majority Republican state legislature, he hired a Democrat who just happened to be the former chief of staff to Democrat Davis.
Who will be the next Democrat Ingram will whore himself out to? Maybe Joe Biden’s presidential campaign? Don’t laugh. Ingram’s former lobbying partner in D.C. was Biden’s long-time chief of staff. Do we detect a pattern here?
Once Bone lost in the first round of the mayor’s race, he consulted with Ingram as to who he should endorse in the run-off. Faced with choosing between conservative businessman David Fox or liberal icon and uber-Democrat, Megan Barry, Bone chose Barry. Why are we not surprised? Who knows – maybe Ingram can get a gig with Barry’s husband, who headed up the state ACLU and still sits on its board.
Birds of a feather
Speaking of Democrat’s mayoral campaign, Ingram is already supporting Barry through his protégé, “Republican” fundraiser Kim Kaegi. Kaegi is well-known for making a bundle for herself while raising money for Alexander, Corker and Haslam, among others. She was most recently rewarded with a juicy contract from Haslam to raise the money for the new state history museum. Reports are that David Fox sought Kaegi’s fundraising expertise, but he was snubbed by Kaegi when she reportedly signed on with the liberal Barry. It just never seems to end, does it?
Any of the 27 Republicans considering running for governor in 2018 who would like to have Kaegi’s (or Ingram’s) services might want to think twice. You may raise a lot of money, but you are going to need to spend most of it in the GOP primary explaining why your political advisors work for liberal Democrats.
Unless, of course, you are a “self-funder.” Then it’s okay.
So we finally got around to opening our famous Rocky Top Tip Line email box (email@example.com). On impulse, we checked our “spam” folder and look at what we found: our very own letter from congressional candidate Grant Everett Starrett (full text at bottom of page). Seems Grant was a mite offended at RTP’s article last month called “Who the heck is Grant Starrett” and tried to offer a response. We say “tried” because, as our young California friend will soon learn George Bernard Shaw was right: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.”
So in that spirit, we have offered our line-by-line analysis of the Starrett letter for our readers’ education and elucidation, along with the requisit references to pork and barbeque.
To this, we say: “Oink.”
Letter from Grant Starrett to RTP:
Dear esteemed editor,
(RTP: Don’t try to be cute with the lower case punctuation, kid — e.e. cummings, you’re not).
As a regular reader of Rocky Top, I was amused to see myself as your latest feature, and wanted to reach out to you to help answer the question, “Who the heck is Grant Starrett?”
It’s true, I did grow up in Ronald Reagan’s neighborhood of Pacific Palisades.
(RTP: Yeah, and one of the RTP crew was born in Charlottesville, but that doesn’t make her Thomas Jefferson. Didn’t O.J. Simpson also used to live in Pacific Palisades?)
But I was that kid who was subscribing to the National Review in elementary school
(RTP: Ew-w-w. You were THAT kid?)
and I never much liked California.
(RTP: Really? With all your parents’ money you could have gone to college anywhere, but you chose to stay in California. Sounds to us like you liked it just fine.)
I’ve spent all my life trying to talk about conservative values,
(RTP: Talkin’ ain’t doin’ Grant, and that is a big part of your problem, especially since you are a new arrival in Tennessee.)
stretching from founding a newsletter in high school,
(RTP: What, your father bought you a school newspaper? Care to submit a sample of your work? We’re curious to know if Danny ever hooked up with Sandy their senior year, or did Rizzo break them up?)
to working for Jim DeMint in law school
(RTP: Hm-m-m. DeMint lives in DC and you were in law school at Vanderbilt. That must have been a hell of a commute. Oh, wait. You must be referring to how you were a summer intern for DeMint. One of the RTP crew has a daughter who just finished an internship in DC. Lot’s of drinking and partying, but that hardly qualifies her to run for Congress.)
to now running for Congress. And there’s plenty of room to the right of a guy who voted for $700 billion in food stamps AND to continue the program that financed the President’s green energy boondoggle Solyndra AND the Export-Import Bank AND any number of other things. The truth is: DesJarlais has been a conservative only when it’s been convenient.
(RTP: A quick poll, Grant old boy, will reveal that while those issues may be at the top of your list, the people of the 4th district are more concerned about working two jobs, illegal immigrants and debacles like Obamacare. We already know who DesJarlais is, but so far we still haven’t learned jack squat about who you are. Except that you had a high school newsletter.)
In short: I appreciate your giving me a chance.
(RTP: Why do you imply RTP is only one person? And we are not in any position to “give” you anything. You have to earn that on your own, dude. Or get your parents to buy it for you.)
I confess I had to google what “brie” was.
(RTP: Oh, puh-leeze. Pacific Palisades is practically the “Brie Capital of the world.” That’s like growing up in Tennessee and not knowing what “moonshine” was. Hint: it’s corn liquor brewed in a still.)
If ever you make it down to Murfreesboro,
(RTP: Why do you assume that all of us would have to come “down” to Murfreesboro? Do you think we all live in Nashville or Williamson County – where you lived in a gated community until just a couple of months ago?)
I’ll happily treat you to a pork sandwich at the Slick Pig.
— Grant Starrett
(RTP: Finally – a clue to “Who the heck is Grant Starrett.” You like pork, but all that tells us is you are probably not an Orthodox Jew. Or a Muslim. Besides, our favorite joint is Busters.)
In conclusion, RTP hopes Grant has learned that most basic political adage: “Don’t touch a hot stove.” And don’t try to out-snark Rocky Top Politics.
Winners and Losers from last week’s Special Election
Pundits frequently try to extrapolate deeper meaning from special elections. Sometimes such elections are harbingers of future results. Sometimes they are meaningless as predictors of electoral activity. But the special election to fill Ryan Haynes seat (HD 14) was not a predictor so much as it was a confirmation of the political landscape in the legislature.
There were a variety of issues discussed in last week’s competition between Zachary and Carson, but none loomed as large as InsureTN. Zachary was against it and Carson was for it. Carson had the backing of the entire Haslam political organization, Including Sen./Dr. Richard (Dicky) Briggs. The Haslam/Carson/Briggs forces got their butts handed to them.
Let’s start with the Losers:
Gov. Bill Haslam –
Bill and the boys got the band back together again for a reprise of his disastrous Advance Tennessee gambit in the primaries one year ago. In that effort, the Haslamists rounded up the usual suspects and blew a quarter million dollars attacking fellow incumbent Republicans who opposed the governor’s agenda. In the House, Haslam lost a net of one seat. This time, the same crew got together and got the same result. The net loss of a reliable Haslam vote.
Chamber of Commerce
These bozos couldn’t put together an effective coalition if they had twice as much money and three times as many political consultants. What was particularly pathetic was their attempt to confuse voters by creating a front group they called Tennesseans for Prosperity, a laughable phony version of Americans for Prosperity (who weighed in against InsureTN). What will these political geniuses come up with next: “Hope and Change?” “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too?” A new state logo?
Knoxville News-Sentinel —
While the MSM has generally had their nose up the governor’s derriere the last 4+ years, none have had it surgically attached like the editors at the KNS. Their dogmatic advocacy for expanding ObamaCare through InsureTN and their support of the gas tax are just their most recent disconnects from their readership. And their endorsement for Carson was like the Kiss of Death. They better be glad the Knoxville Journal is no longer around, or they would be hemorrhaging readers like a stuck pig.
Sen. Richard Briggs –
Dr. Dicky-boy is reknowned for his quiet arrogance and high-handed treatment of others. Now he can add “political moron” to the line of letters that follow his name. Getting involved in a primary in a house district inside your own senate district is almost never a good idea. But Briggs plunged ahead and single handedly managed to put himself on the target list for a primary opponent his next time out. RTP thinks Zachary would make an excellent state senator – don’t you?
Honorable mention: Cong. Jimmy Duncan —
It should have been embarrassing enough for the good Congressman that the unknown and unfunded Zachary got 40% of the vote and won two counties against Duncan last year. But Jimmy made it much worse with his thinly-veiled attempt to seek revenge on Zachary and coming out for Carson. In so doing, he made it all the less likely that a member of the Duncan clan will hold on to his Congressional seat next time it’s up. We think Zachary would make an excellent congressman – don’t you?
And the Winners:
Oh, yeah – those guys. Never mind that our leaders such as Bill Haslam have absolutely no idea how they are going to pay for Obamacare or that the “free money” they promise isn’t even real money (just added to the national debt – and more taxes). “Let’s fool the taxpayers into believing we are giving them a bunch of free stuff” that they or their children will eventually have to pay for in – you guessed it – higher taxes.
Zachary called their bluff on InsureTN and they just can’t stand it. When the Chamber of Commerce and newspapers and politicians like Bill Haslam and Barack Obama can tell us how they are going to pay for InsureTN, then maybe – just maybe — the taxpayers will give a crap about their opinion.
Andy Ogles and AFP –
When AFP honcho Ogles said AFP was going to challenge the Governor’s agenda, the governor tried to man up and challenged the AFP to “Bring it on.”
Well, they “brought it” governor. How do you like it? Choked on it yet?
Conservatives in the legislature –
Be they members of the shadowy Conservative Majority Caucus, or just unaffiliated conservatives who are fed up with their leadership squelching conservative agendas, last week’s election was particularly sweet. The screw is turning on the establishment leadership, and this most recent example only underscored the Naifeh-lite crowd’s days are numbered.
Honorable mention:Rep. Glen Casada —
If he didn’t mind being called a “radical right-wing extremist politician” by the Chamber of Commerce, then Glen is a winner.
Sen. Mark Norris has the reputation of being able to see all three sides of the flip of a coin when trying to make a decision, so his latest press release, which bitch-slapped Gov. Haslam, was all the more stunning.
The governor is smack-dab in the middle of his “I-want-to-raise-your-taxes” tour and so far it is not going well. Before he even started, Speaker Beth Harwell cut the governor off at the knees by suggesting the current revenue surplus be used up before there was even any discussion about raising gas taxes. Then another ideologic “stalwart” by the name of Sen. Jim Tracy came out against the gas tax, at least for the next year. But Norris was even more blunt:
“We don’t support it,” Norris said. “He can (make an attempt), but last time I checked, leadership does not support that approach at this time, and he knows that.”
Yep, when a wishy-washy senator feels comfortable with a statement like that, you know you have lost the base and a lot more.
Let us here at Rocky Top be the first to say it:
“Bill Haslam is a pain in the gas.”
Election results are in.
Bend over, Governor. This may hurt a bit.
The Haslam-backed candidate to replace Haslam ally and former Rep. Ryan Haynes lost last night, bigtime. Karen Carson was defeated by conservative Jason Zachary, 58% – 42%. This despite the active participation of the Haslam-allied state Chambers of Commerce, the financial backing of the Haslam family, the endorsement of the Haslam hometown newspaper and the active backing of Haslam ally Sen. Richard (Dicky) Briggs.
To add insult to injury, the race turned primarily on couple of Haslam-backed issues, the most important of which was InsureTN. Carson was for it, Zachary was against it and the voters gave a big thumbs down to Haslam’s agenda with their vote. The governor’s gas tax gambit also took a direct hit. Zachary was against it and Carson refused to take a clear position (which means she was for it).
Want to go 0-4, Governor? Just try bringing InsureTN up again in the next legislative session and you will get your wish.
Coming Up: Winners and Losers from the special election.
Our loyal readers (both of ’em), were distressed beyond all comprehension over RTP’s recent absence. We know the Haslam administration regarded our nearly 2-week hiatus as a much-needed vacation. Well vacation’s over, boys. Time to buckle back up.
By way of explanation of our MIA status, we thought about making up a story that we were all doing the Grand Tour of Europe. Or that one of us tried to walk-on for defensive linebacker for the Tennessee Titans. The most believable explanation might have been that we were all blind-drunk at Watts Bar Lake.
But alas, the real reason was more practical and more than a little embarrassing. You see, because while RTP is loved in most political circles, we are despised in others (we know, hard to believe….). For that reason, we created a triple-level security system to preserve out anonymity by hardening our site against hackers who wanted to do us metaphorical and physical harm.
In fact, our security is so good, we accidentally locked ourselves out of our own site. Had it not been for the Hot Chick remembering she had written down key passwords and numbers and filed them away in an old computer, we would still be AWOL. For this and your other rather obvious attributes, we thank you, Hot Chick.
So now back to our regularly scheduled programming……