Well THAT didn’t take long.
Less than a week after Gov. Bill Haslam joined other governors by coming out with a strong statement protesting the Obama administration’s Syrian refugee policy, “Burka Bill” was walking it back.
Nov. 16, 2015:
“Today I’m asking the federal government to suspend placements in Tennessee until states can become more of a partner in the vetting process.”
And then, on Nov. 23, 2015:
Haslam Dances Around Whether State Should Let Syrian Refugees In
“I think again, I think again, I think yes, well, I shouldn’t have say this, that’s why I’m saying let us be a part of the vetting process.
“The more I learn about the vetting process, it is a pretty good process.”
Haslam’s original statement was a rather obvious reaction to the very strong positions first staked out by Speakers Ramsey and Harwell. “Can’t let those mean old Speakers get ahead of me on this one — not after I screwed around after the radical Islamic killings in Chattanooga.”
What is it with this guy? Every time he takes a seemingly strong stance, he immediately starts to second-guess himself and watering it down. Makes one wonder how much personal agony he goes through when deciding something really important: like what color tie he’s going to wear to work.
Earlier this year, a former executive of the Church of God headquartered in Cleveland, TN was convicted for embezzling nearly $1 million from the Church. Troy Scot Carter pled guilty in the spring and began serving his 3-year sentence a couple of months ago.
In recent days, the buzz around Bradley County is that Carter has been “singing like a canary” to the FBI about others who also may have participated in similar illegal activities. The speculation centers on another Church of God employee and/or a prominent elected official who may soon be on the hot seat.
Is it true? Who knows. But it does make for an interesting story, eh? RTP will keep its readers (both of them) up to date as events unfold.
The Curious Case of Carson and the Cate Consultant.
“Advance Tennessee PAC” tactics still being used.
Conservative blogger Brian Hornback recently posted a rather lengthy but interesting dissertation on the liberals’ attempted influence in the special election in House District 14 last August between Karen Carson and Jason Zachary. In it, he posits that liberals such as former Rep. Gloria Johnson and others tried to influence the primary election on behalf of Haslam’s hand-picked candidate, Karen Carson. Why are we not surprised that Haslam tried to defeat yet another conservative Republican in a primary, what with his track record with Advance Tennessee?
RTP took a closer look at the financials of RINO candidate Karen Carson in that race and what we found should, but probably won’t, surprise you. Buried deep in the bowels of Carson’s finance reports are a couple of nuggets: One is the predominance of contributions from the hospitals and their allies. Haslam and the hospitals are desperate to expand Obamacare through Medicaid expansion (aka, Insure Tennessee) so that they can use taxpayer money to bail out hospitals. These groups were the largest contributors to Carson. No surprise there.
But as is his want, Haslam never likes to be seen at the scene of a crash, particularly one of his own making. That’s why he trots out his hatchet man Mark “Haters Gonna Hate” Cate to do his dirty work. And now RTP has found a curious link between Cate and Carson and Haslam that followed the pattern established by Haslam and Cate and their infamous Advance Tennessee PAC exactly a year earlier: attempting to defeat conservative candidates for the legislature and hoping to use the act and the results to bully conservatives into accepting the administration’s agenda.
After recruiting Carson as a Haslam toady, Cate dictated to the Carson campaign the hiring of a “pollster” who was paid nearly one-sixth of her total campaign budget at the time. The firm was called BK Strategies LLC of Arlington, VA. The crew at RTP did some sleuthing and we found that BK Strategies apparently had never been involved in any races in Tennessee before it suddenly appeared in the Carson-Zachary race. It took some digging, but we found what appears to be the only employee of BK Strategies, Brice Kornegay (with a name like that, he should look into getting hired by the Grant Starrett campaign).
Kornegay got to know Cate when he worked for the Republican Governors Association — an organization that Haslam now chairs. It appears that Cate got Kornegay hired to the Carson campaign and Kornegay help produce a “poll” that produced the desired results (Kornegay’s fee was covered in part by contributions from Jim Haslam and Randy Boyd.)
The results of the poll were predictable: InsureTN is Great! Common Core is Great! Raising the gas tax is Great! The pro-Haslam agenda used the poll to try and convince voters of the governor’s positions. If Carson were to win, they would tout the poll and her victory as “proof” the voters were in agreement with Haslam’s left-of-center agenda. Unfortunately for Carson, she was forced to run on the results of the poll (especially if she wanted to continue to receive financial support from the Haslam network). The end result was Carson received a political butt-kicking by voters who continue to oppose key portions of Haslam’s initiatives.
Just another reason why the majority of the Republican legislators despise Cate and have rapidly decreasing respect for the governor. Perhaps if Haslam were to “man up” and admit he is not a strong conservative and have the courage of what passes for his convictions, the legislature would show him a little love. But alas, he continues to try to sneak around public scrutiny — like he did by paying Tom Ingram under the table and lately, by withholding emails about his latest crony capitalist venture to privatize half of state government.
It’s going to be a long, long three years for this governor and his courtiers.
TEA goes after Delores Gresham with an axe. Attacks her opposition to Islamic-biased curriculum.
Actively shopping for a primary opponent against her in next election?
For a couple of years now, TEA lobbyist Jim Wrye has been trying to “re-define” his organization and himself in order to deal with the Republican super majorities in the legislature. Wrye re-directed some of the TEA’s campaign contributions away from the Black Caucus (heard from the Memphis TEA lately, Jim?) and towards the Republicans in the hopes that some of the GOP legislators would whore themselves out in exchange for large contributions from the previously 100% Democrat political slush fund. He has tried to generate a charm offensive, based on his gregarious black-slapping qualities. But with his latest actions, Wrye has turned his back-slapping into back-stabbing. What’s more, the rumor mill is abuzz that the TEA is actively trolling for a RINO Republican to take on Sen. Gresham next August.
Look at the recent lead article on TEA’s website called “An Islamic Controversy and Passing the Buck.” In an ill-timed diatribe, Wrye & Co. decided to go after Senate Education Committee Chairman Delores Gresham on the issue of Islamic indoctrination just as the Islamic terrorists were opening fire in Paris. Incredibly, the TEA focuses on the controversy over the Islamic curriculum currently being taught to thousands of Tennessee middle schoolers. The union says that those who voice any opposition to the curriculum are really just attacking teachers.
RTP researchers have searched high and low for any attacks on teachers regarding the Islamic teachings. We have found none. There have been serious and hard legitimate questions to the education bureaucrats, school superintendents, school boards and the Haslam administration’s Education Commissioner, but nary a word criticizing the teachers.
Wrye also employs the typical weasel words favored by Alinskyites such as “assumption” and “insinuation” to try to justify his attack on Gresham. But he saved his most arrogant comments for the end:
“TEA has a long standing policy opposing legislative action on curriculum and standards.” said Wrye.
“Facts and knowledge is our business; faith is the purview of families only.
Wow. It will be news to the legislature that they have no right to oversee “curriculum and standards.” And we stand amazed at the sheer arrogance of the statement “Facts and knowledge is our business.” Who the hell decided that only Jimbo and the TEA were the sole arbiters of “facts and knowledge”? What a putz.
Wrye knows his argument that this is an attack on teachers is nothing more than a straw man, and not a very good one at that. The teachers are only teaching what they are required to teach by the education bureaucrats and he knows it. For Wrye to allow the printing of such an easily provable lie is not only revealing but also brings the reason for the very existence of his organization into proper context.
Speaking of revealing…
Your Socialist Slip is Showing, Jim.
Largely lost, but not forgotten is Jim Wrye’s hiring of a wild-eyed socialist “community organizer” to his staff. We say “socialist” only because calling TEA staffer Chris Brooks a slimy little pinko communist might invade his “safe space” and invite the wrath of the Black Lives Matter crowd or even a visit from a carload of privileged little snots from the University of Missouri.
(Go Vols! Beat the crap out of the whiny liberals this Saturday.)
That TEA and Jim Wrye continue to employ and protect such a despicable person as Brooks is beyond understanding. Maybe when Brooks agrees to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance (something he repeatedly refuses to do in public meetings) we will relent from our ceaseless pillorying of this cretin and his boss.
Maybe. But probably not.
RTP has a new website that our readers (both of you) should enjoy. It comes to us via the Tennessee News Leader, a service provided by the ubiquitous Steve Gill.
It’s a slapped-together website about one of our favorite subjects, Grant Starrett and it’s hilarious. If humor can be used as a knife, then the Starrett campaign should be prepared to bleed all over the floor. Check it out:
They even take a couple of potshots at Scott DesJarlais, but the real focus appears to be Starrett, the young Californian now trying to unseat the incumbent congressman.
Word of advice to the kid(s) at We Hear Banjo Music: don’t get too cocky. Remember, the crew at RTP are still the Kings of Snark when it comes to Tennessee politics. But feel free to plagiarize the crap out of anything you find on our site. The more the merrier…..
Buried in the Dean’s article in the KNS about Mark Cate’s new business venture was this little gem:
Cate last week was in Kentucky, helping that state’s new Republican governor-elect, Mark Bevin, organize gubernatorial administration transition efforts. Cate says that was at the request of the Republican Governors Association, which Haslam currently chairs, and done on a volunteer basis.
So let’s see if we got this straight. The new “Tea Party” governor of Kentucky, who ran against Obamacare, Common Core, Medicaid expansion, higher taxes, etc. is being advised by the person who tried to pass those failed policies in Tennessee. Is that about right?
Mark Cate spearheaded the effort to jam Medicaid expansion down taxpayer’s throats not once, but twice, and failed miserably. The Kentucky governor-elect is also taking transition advice from the main operative behind the effort to push Common Core into Tennessee schools. And let’s not forget about Cate’s role in going after conservative legislators of his own party in the debacle known as Advance Tennessee PAC.
Maybe Mr. Bevin felt he had no choice in taking on Cate as an advisor. After all, the RGA dumped a couple of million into his race at the last minute (after having pulled out some weeks before), and since Bill Haslam is the head of the RGA, and since Cate is Haslam’s closest political advisor, it sounds like the RINOs from Tennessee made Bevin “an offer he couldn’t refuse.”
Watch your back, Gov. Bevin. We’ve dealt with Cate and his cronies for years and we can tell you they are not at all what they seem. It will take St. Patrick and a lot of diligence to keep these snakes out of your state
It was announced this weekend that a new conservative group was being formed.
Well goody, we guess. Conservatives can always use another group to carry our message. RTP hopes that this is an altruistic endeavor based on fundamental conservative values and not just another organization trolling for business. That it was formed by three lobbyists causes some concern, but from what we have heard so far it appears they are on the up and up. We’ll keep an eye on it just to make sure.
One idea for the new group, though. Even though you are a “Tennessee” conservative organization, RTP humbly suggests you consider admitting political types from other states to join your group as well.
That way, Grant Starrett can be a member too.
Bad news for Beth Harwell as she ramps up for governor’s race.
Right on cue, the revolving door that is the Haslam administration has coughed up another example of the soft corruption that passes for state government these days.
Fresh from his disastrous reign as Bill Haslam’s chief-of-staff, Mark “Haters Gonna Hate” Cate is now going Full Pig and slopping up business the governor is sending his way. And as an added bonus, he is setting the stage for Randy Boyd to succeed Haslam in the governor’s chair.
Cate has formed the Stoned Stone River Group, ready to serve paying clients with “strategic advice” (like, how to purchase access to the governor). Right out of the box, Cate is raking in $10,000 per month for one client – the new Tennessee History Museum – a job made possible by Cate and the governor slamming the $140 million taxpayer-funded project through the legislature in the closing days of the session. Shades of Phil Bredesen and Matt Kisber.
It is unlikely Cate will be doing any lobbying with the legislature, since for the most part he is one of the most reviled characters of the Haslam Administration among lawmakers for his rude and bullying tactics, as well as his astonishingly poor political acumen that took a governor coming off a landslide re-election and turned him into a lame duck for the remainder of his term. Thanks in large part to Cate’s ineptness, all that is left of Haslam’s agenda is a trail of failed initiatives.
Joining Cate at the public trough will be Jennifer Triplett, whose most recent job was working for ECDC Commissioner Randy Boyd’s pet toy company. Coincidence? Don’t make us laugh. Also added to the Stoned Group was Jeremy Harrell, the campaign manager for Haslam’s easy run at re-election.
This is particularly bad news for Beth Harwell, who has spent most of her career sucking up to the Haslams in anticipation of a run for major office, only to now find the Haslam’s have their candidate for governor in ’18 — and it ain’t Beth. The Stoned River Group is now comprised of Haslam’s 2010 campaign manager and later chief-of-staff, his 2014 campaign manager as well as a former senior executive with Randy Boyd, all under one roof. Cate even helped get Boyd hired to the governor’s cabinet. If what they are up to was any more obvious, they would have to file a Boyd for Governor campaign finance report this week.
And remind us again, just who the heck is Jeremy Herrell? A short refresher for our newest readers:
Jeremy “The Germ” Harrell joined Stoned River after heading a made-up pro-Common Core front group funded by the governor and his allies. Harrell’s primary job was to follow the governor around all day and regularly remind him that his poo doesn’t stink.
On his way out the door for Tennesseans for Student Success (funded by the governor’s friends, natch), Harrell took time out of his non-existent schedule to send out a press release taking a gratuitous shot at Rep. Andy Holt. Kinda puts his new job into perspective, yes?
We searched our vast archives here at RTP and were reminded where we had heard about Jeremy Herrell for the first time. Seriously – not a single RTP crew member could remember ever having come across The Germ in any competitive political situation before we wrote that column. And now he is a big-shot consultant advising “clients” on their “strategery” in dealing with state government (snicker).
The crew at RTP might be upset if we thought Harrell was actually a significant player in the political process in Tennessee. We take comfort in the knowledge that has left his job as a sycophant toady to the governor, only to be joining the head toady (Cate) in a new endeavor made possible by the taxpayers. Not bad for an operative whose entire breadth of political experience and measurable acumen is about as significant as a gnat’s fart in a hurricane.
But, hey — good luck in your new job, Germ. Maybe someday you can grow up and get a job that does not require sucking on Bill Haslam’s financial teat or on projects created with someone else’s (taxpayer) money.
This article is RTP’s gift to you: With this posting we have introduced you to a few thousand people who, before this article, had never heard of or cared about your professional trajectory.
Of course after reading this they will probably care even less.
Responding to concerns from parents about the problems with the pervasive testing taking place in Tennessee public schools, Rep. Andy Holt decided to check it out himself. He thought he could get some good insights if he took the eighth grade english & language arts test himself, on the same day in the same classroom and in the same environment as the students themselves. After the test was over, he then planned to ask the students what they thought of the test and about school in general. He approached a principal in Obion County who welcomed the legislator. Easy-peezy, right?
Poor public servant. How naive of Rep. Holt to think that doing his job would get a favorable reaction.
Holt thought this was a low-key way to gain information about the state of public education without having state bureaucrats run interference for their pro-Common Core agendas (which include LOTS of testing).
When Commissioner of Education Candice “Queen Bee” McQueen caught wind of what Rep. Holt was about to do she went into panic mode. How DARE an elected official by-pass HER and the pro-Common Core Haslam administration and seek answers for himself. She immediate called Holt and in strong terms bordering on threats told him that taking the test was not a good idea. If he would like to see some practice tests (ones especially cooked up for nosy legislators, no doubt), then he could drive to Nashville and see them in her office, where bureaucrat observers could keep an eye on him.
Holt politely declined and said he was going to do it anyway.
That REALLY pissed off the Queen Bee and sent the bureaucrats into a frenzy. Within minutes McBee was on the phone to the Superintendent of Obion County schools, Russ Davis, who then called Holt and in unmistakable language told him he was “dis-invited” and that he would not be allowed to visit the school.
Some Holt detractors say he was just trying to get publicity for himself. Those who actually know Holt know him to be humorous, self-deprecating and someone who actually reads the legislation before he votes on it. But let’s assume for the moment that Holt was looking for publicity on an issue that taxpayers should and are concerned about. So what? Exactly how is that different than Speaker Beth Harwell posing for the TV cameras milking a cow on Legislative Plaza? The only thing we can think of is that Holt was trying to highlight an important issue and Harwell was trying to….heck, we don’t know what she was trying to highlight (perhaps she was demonstrating to lobbyists how to “milk” the taxpayers).
This will not end well for the bureaucrats.
McQueen takes it upon herself to try and threaten an elected legislator from doing something as simple as taking a eighth grade test, and by so doing she elevates the issue while lowering the opinion of taxpayers who are getting pretty damn tired of bureaucrats on the public dole telling us we can’t see what our money is paying for.
And the second moron of this little drama: Obion County school superintendent Russ Davis (more on this fool in later postings). Davis didn’t even try to be diplomatic — he called just minutes after Commissioner McQueen’s not-so-veiled threat to Rep. Holt and rudely and obnoxiously tells him he does not have permission to go to the school.
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THESE PEOPLE?
First it was the education bureaucrat simpletons who refused to let the public know what was being taught about Islam in our schools and now this. The sheer unbridled arrogance of these non-elected jerks is breathtaking. It’s no wonder candidates like Trump are kicking the collective butts of the establishment’s favored candidates. Just look how well the biggest Republican proponent of Common Core is doing in the polls: Jeb! Jeb who?
Was Rep. Holt grandstanding? Who gives a damn. He was just doing his job. Can you imagine how quickly these same jerks would have gone after an elected official who tried to block the voters from seeing his/her voting record?
You petty little Napoleons work for us – not the other way around. And you are just begging for the taxpayers to teach you an object lesson about what happens when you piss off the electorate.
Keep it up and just see what happens. The crew at RTP stand ready and eager to report on your political and policy demise.