*** RTP EXCLUSIVE ***
Haslam using Obama-backed PAC to fund campaigns against conservative Republicans.
Head of “Stand for Children” is former Obama political campaign operative and Obama White House aide.
Haslam arranges $50,000 in donations from two of his friends to go to the Obama-affiliated PAC.
Dropping all pretense of being a conservative or a Republican, Gov. Bill Haslam has decided to engage in open warfare with the growing conservative wing in the legislature. Incredibly, he is doing it with the help of the Obama political operation.
An organization closely affiliated with Barack Obama is now pumping tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars into contested Republic primaries, buying TV ads and mailings to attack conservatives.
The Stand for Children PAC, is run out of Portland, OR and has a Tennessee chapter. SFC’s national organization is a Who’s-Who of Obama campaign staff, liberal activists and far-left liberal ideologues. Its Nashville director is Daniel O’Donnell, a former Obama for President political operative (2007-2008) and White House liaison (2009-2012). 6 of 8 of its staff are “community organizers” who backed Obama in 2008 and 2012 and are headquartered in Memphis.
The organization is linked to Haslam through its field director, Carter Lawrence, who spent years working for Haslam in both his political campaign and as an aide to the governor. Lawrence’s “token Republican” role appears to be primarily window-dressing for Haslam and his cronies to use the SFC’s state PAC to defeat conservative Republican legislators in the August primary.
For several years the state PAC had carried a balance of only $5. Then in late May it received $50,000 from John and Orrin Ingram, two of Haslam’s most loyal funders and who participated in his previous projects in 2014 that attacked Republicans. In addition, another $36,000 came from the organization’s headquarters in that Portland, Oregon.
FEC reports also reveal that in 2012, the Stand for Children (SFC) federal PAC spent $30,000 in Memphis to support Barack Obama and Cong. Steve Cohen. Since May of this year, the SFC-Haslam-Obama state PAC has dumped out over $53,000 for “polling and research” in Tennessee. At least $15,000 went to the infamous MB Public Affairs in Sacramento, CA whose specialty is invasive “opposition research” to assess “candidate vulnerability” (i.e., dig up dirt on people).
RTP has received reports that in the race for Rep. Womick’s seat, SFC-Haslam-Obama PAC has recently bought $42,000 in TV ads for the establishment candidate, Christy Seigler, who has been trailing in the polls to the more conservative Tim Rudd. In Rep. Charles Sargent’s race, the SFC-Haslam-Obama PAC has already paid for thousands of pieces of mail supporting the Harwell ally Sargent. In the Judd Matheny race, they have already paid for two mailings in support of House Clerk Joe McCord’s former intern (the one intern who may not have been sexually harassed by Jeremy Durham), whom McCord and Harwell recruited to run against Matheny. In the race to fill retiring Rep. Billy Spivey’s seat, it is believed they are funneling money on behalf of Rick Tillis – an establishment candidate who was personally recruited by Speaker Harwell — in meetings held in her speaker’s office — even before Spivey announced his retirement.
While all of this is interesting, the bigger story is the goal of this massive effort to funnel money to select Republican candidates through an organization with blatant liberal and Democratic ties.
Donald Trump won 94 of Tennessee’s 95 counties in the GOP presidential primary, with the conservative Ted Cruz coming in second in most of those. The establishment wing of the GOP bet on Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, etc. had their butts handed to them.
If the great unwashed masses of conservative Tennessee Republicans turn out in similar numbers in the competitive GOP August primaries as they did in the presidential primary, it would be a devastating blow to the Old Guard – one that could cost Beth Harwell her speakership. The conservative wing of the GOP caucus has set much of the agenda the last couple of years (i.e., Hall Tax repeal, end of Common Core, defeat of Medicaid/Obamacare expansion, etc.) and has been steadily growing in numbers over the last couple of years. They may now be positioned to start winning leadership posts and taking control of not only the agenda, but the levers of power as well. That is what has set the leadership and the establishment on edge and has prompted them to spend big to try and hold back the conservative tide, even allying themselves with Barack Obama to do it.
The Stand for Children-Haslam-Obama effort is just one of the more visible battles going on for the soul of the Republican Party. There will be more. Count on it.