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.