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.