Monthly Archives: July, 2016

Who ya gonna believe? Rick Tillis or your lyin’ eyes?

Tillis tries to explain his bad NRA rating.  Raises more questions.

Rick Tillis, legislative candidate in district 92, squealed when Rocky Top pointed out his grade from the NRA had been magically changed from an abysmal “C” to an “A” after panicked phone calls to the NRA from his establishment friends.

So candidate Rick, smarting from his ever-changing grade, wrote Rocky Top a couple of days ago with this message:

“You need to research your facts a little deeper before posting something that is totally false. I would appreciate a correction sent out by your blog.”

We bet you would, Rick.  But alas, you did not offer any specifics as to what precisely we got wrong.  So let us help you out.

Where to start?  So much stupidity, so little time.  Just what part of the hard tangible evidence provided by Rocky Top was false, Rick?  The part where the original NRA website said you suck, or the part about Haynes and Harwell making the phone call to the NRA?  Sorry, champ – it appears that it is all true.

To further illustrate our impressive capacity for veracity, we offer the latest “Rick Rant” he posted on Facebook the morning after RTP exposed his horrible, no good, miserable NRA rating and the subsequent changing of his grade.  This was only up for a short while before someone in his campaign with an IQ higher than a hamster realized it was probably not a good idea (and once again, we thank an anonymous tipster for the screen shot):

tillis facebook 3

 

Aside from the fractured syntax and incomplete sentences, can anyone tell us what this fool is talking about?  Let’s see if we understand this: Tillis says he got a bad score from an organization because he was a member of that organization?   Huh?

Notice also that he employs the “I am stupid” defense by saying the questionnaires are confusing.  Funny, no one else in the entire election has complained that the NRA questionnaires are confusing.  In fact, they are brutally straightforward.

Sheesh.

So Rick, we will apologize to you the moment you demonstrate you are able to grab your derriere with both hands.  Until then, remember the first rule of gun safety, which also is conveniently the first rule of politics:

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.  Or the ass.

Rick Tillis takes aim at his opponent.

 

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The Curious Case of Rick Tillis and the NRA rating

Rocky Top received a couple of emails from our loyal band of tipsters questioning the accuracy of RTP’s post regarding the changing of an NRA rating for legislative candidate Rick Tillis from a C to an A.  We take any challenge to our veracity quite seriously — anyone questioning our truthfulness will be locked in a room with Jeremy Durham, a cooler of beer and trousers full of candy.

The first tipster let us know that Tillis had received a really bad grade from the NRA.  That was when one of the crew made a screenshot of the original posting.  We are glad we did, because then yet another tipster contacted us and said the grade had been mysteriously changed.  Another RTP crew member checked the NRA website, and sure enough, the grade had been changed to an “A.”

The original  tipster was someone whom we believe had direct knowledge of the call from Harwell and Haynes to the NRA on Tillis’ behalf.  Until that tip, RTP was totally unaware of the discrepancy.

One tipster suggested the grade originally posted on the NRA’s website could have been a fake screen shot.  Although the quality of our screen shot was poor, we know firsthand it was definitely not a fake – we got it directly from the NRA website.  To prove that point, another helpful tipster provided us with much clearer “before and after” screen shots.  Here they are:

NRA

 

Sure looks real to us.

Another helpful tipster pointed out the difference in Tillis’ name, which was changed when they moved him from a C to an A and thought the NRA might have somehow confused him with his brother, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.  We too noticed the name difference, but here’s where it gets a little weird. We checked the U.S. Senate, which listed Sen. Tillis’ full name as Thomas Roland Tillis.  According to the TN Secretary of State, Rick Tillis’ full name that appears in his candidacy filings is Thomas Richard Tillis.

Very odd that brothers would share the same first name, but it doesn’t seem likely there was any confusion when assigning grades.  To make sure, we also looked at previous NRA ratings for Sen. Tillis when he was in the NC legislature and in all the ones we could find, they showed Thom Tillis consistently got an A+ rating from the NRA.  So much for somehow accidentally entering the original score for the wrong candidate by mistake.

If the NRA somehow made a mistake, they can always step forward and admit it and explain how it could happen, why they made the change without notifying their members or the visitors to their website and whether they received a call from Harwell and/or Haynes regarding Tillis.  Our source swears on a stack of Bibles and first-hand knowledge that the phone call was made.  This source has always been dead-on accurate and truthful before and RTP has no reason to doubt the source now.

Our guess is the NRA will not admit to any of this, and that’s okay. The NRA is a great organization (every single member of the RTP crew is an NRA member and all but one of us have carry permits), but even a great organization can be susceptible to political strong-arming.  Is that what happened here?  Sure looks like it.  The physical evidence speaks for itself.  But the NRA doesn’t owe RTP an explanation.

Special thanks to the RTP Merry Band of Tipsters for the input.  But until proven otherwise, our story stands.

Harwell Reaps What She Sows.

we won edited

After:

  • 416 news articles,
  • a five-month investigation,
  • 78 witnesses,
  • hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars,
  • short cutting House Rules and the State Constitution,
  • squandering the trust and good will of her fellow legislators
  • while raising suspicions she was digging up dirt on all of her political opponents,

Speaker Beth Harwell finally relents and agrees to what was suggested months before she dragged the legislature through this debacle – allow the voters to decide Jeremy Durham’s fate.

Harwell then disingenuously begged that “the privacy of these victims in this report be protected.”  This, after she moved heaven and earth to release the very report that identifies these women with only a fig leaf of anonymity.

She added:  “Anyone who politicizes this is doing a disservice to the victims.”

Oops!  Too late, Beth!  You did that when you insisted the report be released.  A general summary of the results of the investigation would have sufficed, but no-o-o-o.  You had to make sure the most titillating, prurient details were hung up like so much dirty laundry.   It’s like the women have now been assaulted by two legislators:  Durham and Harwell.  But we are confident everyone within earshot of the Speaker will go along with her request, because – Sisterhood!

Ad Hoc Chair Steve McDaniel joined in the drum circle by essentially asking the public not to read the report he had just voted to make public, pleading for everyone to“avoid making these victims victims again.”

What a bunch of incompetent, effin’ hypocrites.

Nevertheless, we suppose some sort of recognition of Harwell’s efforts are in order, so here ya go:

Congratulations, Madame Speaker, on your great “victory!”

Hope it was worth it.

Showdown at High Noon (or 1:30pm CDT, to be more precise)

gun fight

Okay, political hacks and hangers-on, time to place your bets.  The question of the day is:

“Will Jeremy Durham win all or any part of his lawsuit against the Attorney General, the Speaker and the Ad Hoc Committee?”

RTP boldly predicts:  Probably not.

“But wait,” say the band of believers in the Rule of Law.  “What about the Rule of Law?  What about the Constitution? What about Due Process?  What about the Permanent Rules of the House of Representatives?”

Oh, you silly, naïve neophytes.  Where have you been during the Clinton/Obama years?  By now, you should have learned the new enlightened central premise of today’s politics:

“Rules are for little people.”

Maybe this judge has a backbone.  Maybe his 14 years working for the AG’s office won’t cloud his judgement. Maybe the Tooth Fairy will bring the RTP crew an endless supply of Jack Daniels Single Barrel.

From our reading of the complaint and the AG’s response some things seem clear.  The Speaker, the AG and the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee violated House rules and the state Constitution.  It is equally clear the AG will argue that none of that matters, since what is important that we get this information out to the public (and just in time for early voting to start).

Yesterday, Breitbart News added more information to their previous reporting, particularly about the people who have been interviewed during the investigation.  Some chilling quotes from those who were actually hauled into the Star Chamber:

  • “They asked more questions about others than they did Jeremy Durham.”

  • “They briefly asked about him [Durham], but mainly they asked me about ….other legislators. They were hunting down gossip on them.”

  • “The take away for me was, my God, I am only here to talk about other people.”

  • “They were on a fishing expedition.”

  • “It has the appearance they were expanding the scope of the inquiry beyond Jeremy Durham to other legislators. That’s a frightening thought. Somebody’s gathering information for future use.”

If you are a legislator and these words don’t scare the hell out of you, then you are simply not paying attention.  Jeremy Durham may be guilty as hell of everything he has been accused of.  But that does not excuse the Powers-That-Be from following the law.  Especially when the clear signal being sent from the Speaker and others to legislators is “You could be next.”

See you on the Courthouse steps.  We’ll be the ones holding the signs that say “Will Blog 4 Booze.”

Durham Raises the Stakes

gambling

Win or lose, damage to Harwell already done.

Following the recent reports of an out-of-control investigation about accusations of sexual harassment, the beleaguered Rep. Jeremy Durham filed a lawsuit this afternoon against the Speaker, the Attorney General and the Speaker-created Ad Hoc Committee that was assigned to look into the accusation against him.

Rocky Top sources (specifically, not Durham.  None of the RTP crew has spoken to him, nor do we plan to) who are close to the situation say that what prompted Durham was, among other factors, a letter from Rep Rick Womick to the Attorney General outlining numerous violations of the Rules of the Tennessee House of Representatives and the state constitution.  The gist of Womick’s letter was that the Speaker did not have the authority to create the committee or to punish Durham unless she brought the matter before the full House – something she promised but never did.  The lawsuit filed by Durham’s attorney borrows heavily from the Womick letter, plus adds a few twists of its own, such as violation of due process, etc.

Numerous legislators, including many who are not particularly fond of Durham, believe the Attorney General has been conducting an investigation of a member of the legislature without the authority to do so.  There has also been a growing concern that the investigation has metastasized into a political “witch hunt” designed to dig up dirt on political opponents of the Speaker and the Haslam Administration, far beyond its original purpose to investigate Durham.

If Durham is successful in negating the authority and activity of the investigation – an admittedly difficult task to achieve at this point — the political fallout would be enormous.  But it won’t take a win in court this week for the political effects to take place.  Already, there is growing resentment within the GOP caucus that Harwell has handled the entire matter in an unprofessional and generally incompetent manner.  Everyone in the caucus now knows or at least suspects that many of the questions put to the 60+ witnesses went far afield from the original purpose of the investigation and that anyone in the legislative body or staff could soon have their personal dossier in the hands of the Speaker, her allies and the Attorney General.  It doesn’t take a conspiracy nut to realize the danger posed by someone with such information.

The trust in Harwell among the caucus has taken a severe beating. So regardless of what happens to Durham in court, Harwell has already been tried and found complicit among her colleagues.  IF she remains as Speaker, she will have an extraordinarily difficult time managing the body with this kind of baggage.  And she has only herself to blame.

If Durham wins even a partial victory in court, people like Glen Casada (and likely several others) will need to update their resumes for a run for the Speakership.  If Durham beats the odds and wins the primary, people will be calling for Harwell to leave faster than David Cameron can say “Brexit.”

Because with or without Durham’s lawsuit, if this whole controversy gets any messier, Harwell is going to have to step down.

You heard it here first.

Harwell, Haynes: Caught CHEATING to rig an election.

*** RTP EXCLUSIVE***

Duo pressured the NRA to change score for their hand-picked candidate in GOP primary.

Haynes violates state party by-laws.  Again.

Highly reliable RTP sources say that in the last few days, GOP state chairman Ryan Haynes joined Speaker Beth Harwell on a frantic phone call to National Rifle Association staff demanding the organization change the rating the NRA gave to Rick Tillis, who is running against Mike Waggoner in District 92 to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Rep. Billy Spivey.

Seems that Tillis originally received a “C” rating from the NRA, while Waggoner scored an “A.”

In the rural district they seek to represent, a bad rating by the NRA could easily decide the election in the GOP primary.  And Tillis’ “C” rating was one, possibly the lowest, of any Republican in the state running in a primary in August. The poor rating was the result of his answers to a questionnaire both candidates filled out and signed.

Tillis, who was being actively recruited to run by Harwell even before Spivey had decided to retire, provided equivocating answers that gave him a score in the range normally given to Memphis Democrats.

Don’t believe us?  Check it out.  The screen shot on the left is from the NRA’s website on Thursday.  The screenshot on the right is from today (Sunday).  It’s not of the best quality, but then, neither is the Leadership:

Tillis final 2

Of course, the fact that Harwell is personal friends with Tillis’ brother, former No. Carolina speaker and now U.S. Senator Thom Tillis surely didn’t have anything to do with the grade change.  Naw, that couldn’t possibly be the reason.

As for Haynes, the state GOP’s “Taylor-gate” scandal (which is still going on) didn’t even slow him down.  He just blew through the party by-laws that prevent him from taking sides in a primary with nary a glance — just like he did when he hired the wife of the state party political director, who then proceeded to sign up clients trying to defeat incumbent Republicans.  “Rules are for the little people,” says Hillary Ryan.

As for the NRA, they were between a rock and a hard place.  The Speaker could block most any legislation they bring during the next session, unless they buckle under.  Wayne LaPierre will not be amused by all this.

RTP asks this question:  Just how corrupt and slimy do these two need to be before someone finally demands they leave or be fired?

Maybe we should get the Attorney General to investigate them.  Yeah – that’ll work.

What about Bob?

Did anyone actually take seriously the talk about Sen. Bob Corker being Trump’s running mate?  Nah, we didn’t think so.  So it comes as no surprise that Corker just pulled out of consideration for the Veep slot.

corker and trumpThe latest “Boomlet for Bob” was yesterday’s appearnace with Trump.  While Bob joined Trump in a photo-op that displayed their comical differences in physical stature, Tennessee media breathlessly reported Bob was being “vetted” to be Trump’s running mate.  Of course, so were about a gazillion other people.  Bob’s inclusion in the “vetted” list was likely a favor delivered by his friend, A.B. “Ten Mile TN” Culvahouse, who is doing the vetting for Trump.  The whole process is just like the Oscars:  “Although I wasn’t selected, it’s a honor just to be nominated,”  said the losing actress through clenched teeth.

The whole Kabuki dance was probably an attempt to raise Corker’s stature with the voters back home, where Corker should be worrying about making it through the GOP primary in 2018.  There are serious folks who are seriously thinking about seriously challenging Corker, and for good reason:  they think he can be beat in the primary.  That is probably why Corker basked for a while in his new, if unearned, Trumpian fame.  Anything to change the subject and to suck up to the great unwashed masses (aka GOP primary voters), most of whom are supporting Trump.

There is also the looming controversy about Corker’s personal finances.  There are his Senate financial disclosure reports (which he has amended 5 times in the last two years) where he just kinda, sorta forgot to include a few million dollars in income.  But that reporting violation is just the tip of a potential iceberg.  Rumors of insider trading, proprietary information, off-shore accounts, etc. are swirling around the junior senator from Tennessee.  Wasting time explaining your VP running mate’s financial deals is not the thing a presidential nominee (who has “complicated” financial deals of his own ) wants to be doing in the fall election.

But in addition to the ethics concerns, Corker was going to have a really tough time explaining away his role in the absolutely disastrous Iran Deal.  Not only was the deal horrible, but Corker allowed himself to be completely snookered by the Obama administration.  Tennessee voters in particular have just a wee problem with Mr. Obama playing their junior senator like a cheap violin.

And further complicating Bob’s situation is this photo:

Corker Obama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serving as Barack’s caddy, either on the golf course or in the U.S. Senate, is a devastating image hard to overcome.  That’s why RTP boldly predicted that the closest Bob would get to the Vice President’s office is the White House Christmas party, a fact now confirmed by the Washington Post.

It just seems at every turn, Bob comes up, well, short.

 

Here it comes!

Ad Hoc Committee chair calls for emergency meeting.

Purpose is reportedly to release report of the Durham investigation.

Timing of the report suspect.

Attorney General prepares his final report on Jeremy Durham.

Attorney General prepares his final report on Jeremy Durham.

RTP is back.  After a 10-day hiatus of family vacations culminating in drunken July 4th barbecues, we have all hopefully sobered up  enough to resume our snarky but dead-on analysis of what passes for politics in the Volunteer state.

Yesterday we celebrated our freedom from tyranny.  While many of us were celebrating the Red, White & Blue, political leaders such as Beth Harwell and Herbert Slatery were leaving the Constitution “black and blue.”

We were swigging beers and lighting fireworks to commemorate our ability to have, among other things, free elections.  Meanwhile, back in the Beth Bunker, there continues an effort to use the power of the state to interfere with an election.

RTP has learned Rep. Steve McDaniel, the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee investigating the Durham Issue, is poised to release (or use their preferred method — leaking to the press) the final report of the AG regarding Le Affaire Durham.  They have offered at least three dates between July 5 and July 13th for members to haul their butts back to Nashville to receive the results of the Attorney General’s witchhunt inquiry.

After months of investigating, interviewing witness on things such as the mating habits of other legislators and secretly subpoenaing personal phone records like a Hoover vacuum set on “maximum suck,” the AG is now scurrying to have the Ad Hoc committee receive his report no later than July 13th.

church lady

Why would the report need to be released by July 13th?  Simple: that would be just in time for early voting in the August primary election in which Durham is running for re-election.  A salacious leaked report just before the election could be the final nail in Durham’s coffin.  One of the assistant AGs has a personal track record of just those kinds of polltically-timed releases in his previous job in Kentucky, so there is a precedent for what is about to happen.

Of course, it is possible the meeting is being called just to ask everyone what they did over the July 4th holiday.

Sure it is.

Durham’s guilt or innocence is irrelevant to them.  What is important is that he be publicly drawn & quartered, and to do so just before the election.  So far, the Speaker and her allies have been unable to remove Durham via constitutional means, such as filing actually legal charges against him.  Likewise, leadership has been unable to round up enough votes to expel him (which was Harwell’s stated preference).  Instead, Beth and her hired inquisitors have decided to destroy Durham by political maneuvering.

Now before anyone gets into a snit that anyone at Rocky Top is trying to defend Durham, let it be noted RTP has been a regular and consistent critic of Rep. Durham.  But despite our distaste for his reputed antics and alleged transgressions, we have a real problem with the boneheaded incompetence of the Speaker to try to remove Rep. Frat Boy through extra-constitutional means.  Instead of stepping up and handling the problem directly and honestly, Speaker Harwell and crew have embarked on a disturbing investigation that seems to be as interested in the private lives of other legislators (legislators who, according to some people hauled in by the AG for interviews, are primarily political opponents of the Speaker and the Governor).

As a result, the Speaker’s standing within her caucus is likely at an all-time low, since many believe the clear message sent by the Speaker to her GOP colleagues is:  “I’ve now got dirt on all of you  Now get in line – or else.”

But despite all these efforts, there still exists for the Speaker the absolutely terrifying prospect that Durham pulls off an unlikely election victory.  If that happens, Harwell is in deep trouble.  She would face a growing chorus of complaints as to why she let this get so out of hand with no guarantee of a resolution.  Durham would have to be sworn in, returned to his previous standing in the caucus and the Ad Hoc Committee and all actions taken by the House would – by law – die at the end of the year and the end of the session.

All that Beth would have left is a Little Black Book of Blackmail to use against her colleagues.

Come to think of it, maybe that was her real purpose all along…..