*** SPECIAL REPORT***
Excuse us if we don’t believe you, Governor.
[Editor’s note: If you’re new to this issue, start HERE to get up to speed.]
In an article this weekend, Gov. Bill Haslam said he had “no plans” to spend a lot of money on legislative races. But just a few weeks ago his PAC held a $10,000 per table fundraiser for his Jobs4TN PC – the same organization that in 2014 funded Haslam allies in GOP primaries and conducted opposition research and polling believed to have been used against incumbent conservative legislators. Which begs the question: if Haslam is not going to spend that money on legislative races, just what the hell is he going to spend it on?
Regarding involvement in Republican primaries, Haslam said: “We haven’t done that, and we won’t do that. I just don’t see that’s the appropriate role for the governor.”
Please excuse us until we can stop laughing at the obvious absurdity of that statement. The fact is, Bill Haslam directed his former chief of staff, Mark Cate, to help recruit candidates and to lead the Governor’s friends to contribute to the infamous Advance TN PAC. He even defended it’s activities.
And as RTP pointed out in the previous posting, the consultants hired by Job4TN PAC in 2014 and their subsequent activities strongly suggests collusion between Job4TN and Advance TN.
Don’t piss on our leg then tell us it’s raining, Guv.
The governor also said he did not plan to spend a lot of money. That’s cold comfort: “not a lot of money” to a billionaire is a hell of a lot of money to the rest of us. He could dump $1 million into defeating Republican legislators and it wouldn’t amount to ½ of 1% of his net worth.
If the past is prologue, you can expect the governor’s promises to not go after Republican legislators will turn out to be complete BS. We now know that Bill Haslam and Mark Cate were the geniuses behind Advance TN PAC and its attacks on Republicans. We also know that the governor had his campaign give over $150,000 to Jobs4TN PAC, an organization that lay dormant for nearly three years until just before the attacks started on the conservative legislators they targeted for defeat.
And now Jobs4TN is gearing back up again with a $10,000 per table fundraiser. It is also important to remember, the governor has over $1 million remaining in his campaign account (not to mention the billions in his personal account) and has shown he will transfer big money in a heartbeat if he thinks he can knock off a conservative Republican.
At this point, RTP wants to provide some serious advice to any conservative Republican legislator (or any other GOP legislator who dares disagree with the governor): The governor of your own party is coming after you – again. He and his cronies seek to destroy your reputation with “oppo research” and to end your political careers — again. If you cannot understand that, or choose to ignore the obvious, then you are beyond the help of the crew here at RTP.
And don’t think for a minute this governor and his allies are satisfied with picking on a handful of the most conservative of the caucus. Committed, non-establishment conservatives now comprise a powerful segment of the caucus, with estimates ranging anywhere from 25-40 members. Current leadership has kept the establishment in power by almost completely shutting out these 25-40 members from committee chairmanships or any meaningful leadership duties.
It is remarkable that in a year of voter outrage over the business-as-usual establishment in both political parties, Bill Haslam and the House leadership are circling the wagons and shooting the wounded in their own party to keep their gravy train running and conservatives away from power. In addition, their incompetence and maneuvering over such things as the Durham Debacle only adds fuel to the fire. They are scared and they are desperate to keep their power. And that makes them dangerous.
So what to look for and what to do?
As usual, RTP is Johnny-on-the-spot with some helpful guides and tips on how to fight back. We offer a few of those today.
Tip #1: Beware the lobbyists.
And not just the 80% of the lobbyists who are dyed-in-the-wool Democrat holdovers from the Naifeh days. The “Republican” lobbyists are just as complicit, if not more so. In later posts, we will provide a list of those lobbyists who gave to Jobs4TN PAC and/or AdvanceTN PAC. Some of them may shock you. Study them, know them, and tell them they are persona non grata in your office. Let their clients know why — that their lobbyists tried to defeat you. Here’s just a couple of examples of people who are always lurking around your office, who also gave money that ended up trying to get you beat:
- The Tennessee Chamber — $12,500 to Jobs4TN (2014 GOP primary)
- CCA — $50,000 to Jobs4TN (2014 GOP primary)
Tip #2: Just close your office door.
Exactly what incentive does any conservative legislator have to welcome the governor’s staff and the Kiddie Corps he calls legislative liaisons into his or her office? Let them cool their heels in the hallways of the WMB until hell freezes over. Do not think for a minute they are there to help you.
At the very least, just stop subjecting yourselves to the humiliation and duplicity of being collared in the hallway or called into the governor’s office for a meeting, just to have that same governor kick you in the political ass when you have left.
Tip #3: There is safety in numbers.
If indeed there is actually a Conservative Caucus, and if you have not yet joined it, then RTP suggests you consider doing so.
Tip #4: Start looking for some new leadership (or at least put them on notice).
Tip #5: Watch Kim Kaegi and Mark Cate
Because the Advance TN concept blew up in the governor’s face, he is unlikely to revive it in its old form. Instead, look for them to use an out of state super PAC or for them to piggyback on one of their cronies’ existing PACS. In any event, you will not see it coming, but you can watch for some clues. For instance, the governor’s chief fundraiser, Kim Kaegi, is in charge of the Jobs4TN PAC. Mark Cate started his own “strategery” company and hired the governor’s chief political gopher, Jeremy Harrell. The powers-that-be then lined them up a lucrative contract to raise money for the new state history museum, among other benefits. Cate may have left the building, but he just moved his obnoxious political bullying down the street – ready to direct the successor to the Advance TN PAC
Current House leadership has lost all moral authority to ask you to be a team player after they were actively involved in the unprecedented attacks on conservatives or were silently complicit, quietly standing by and doing nothing. A year and a half later, we are still waiting for Beth Harwell to utter one single word condemning what happened to members of her own caucus.
And remember all those times these last few years when House leadership asked you to “go along” so as “not to embarrass the governor?”
Well screw them all. Because they are most assuredly trying to screw you.