Scandal Rocks House GOP Caucus.
Insiders detail use of GOP caucus pollsters to aide Democrats!
Harwell, Casada implicated.
Cameron Sexton “laundering “ expenditures for leadership?
Over the weekend RTP received a remarkable tip from one our readers. In a one-page letter, the tipster outlined a GOP House caucus operation headed by Caucus Chair Glen Casada and undoubtedly approved by Speaker Beth Harwell. It involves the use of a polling vendor called Revily, a firm the caucus had used since at least 2014.
GOP candidates were strongly encourage by Casada to use Revily for their campaign polling. Tellingly, despite their promotion of Revily, neither Casada or Harwell use Revily for their own campaigns. Now why would that be?
Revily, which bills themselves as a “conservative” consulting firm, is anything but when it comes to Tennessee. In fact, while Revily is more than happy to collect money from the House GOP Caucus (over $14,000 in the last few months — much more since 2014), Revily has now been caught re-handed working for a left-wing liberal group that is actively engaged in trying to elect Democrats running against incumbent and credible GOP candidates in next week’s election.
And one of those Democrats is a close friend of Speaker Harwell.
Case Study: Casada strongly encouraged challengers such as Ed Butler of Jamestown to use Revily and Butler hired them to do a poll. Only a few days after the poll was completed, Butler was the target of a vicious direct mail attack conducted by the Tennessee Education Association (TEA). The TEA’s pollster? Revily.
This is hardly a coincidence. You see, Butler is running against Rep. John Mark Windle, a “special” friend of the Speaker who brings her a cold bottle of coconut water each morning during the session. He is a Democrat who backs Hillary Clinton and he is backed by the TEA (who have also endorsed Hillary and who serve as his “attack dog.”)
Just for this obvious gross conflict of interest, Revily should have been fired on the spot and banned from working for the GOP Caucus. Of course, since the state GOP (headed for the time being by close Harwell ally Ryan Haynes) has set the bar so low by hiring and sheltering consultants who were working to defeat incumbent Republican officials in the August primaries, perhaps we shouldn’t be expecting too much from their caucus counterparts when it comes to ethics.
Grotesquely, the state GOP has taken at least $8,000 in contributions from the TEA union. (RTP will soon take a hard, uncomfortable look at those Republicans and GOP institutions that see no problem taking campaign cash from a group that is so opposed to basic conservative principles. It’s not too late to give the money back , but the clock is ticking).
There is another reason, beyond a personal friendship with Windle, as to why Harwell would condone such activity. Butler has run a very credible campaign, is very conservative and would likely vote for Rep. Jimmy Matlock in the Speaker’s race in two weeks. So this looks for all the world like Harwell and/or her allies are trying to defeat a Republican so that she doesn’t have to worry about another vote against her for Speaker. She and the caucus are doing the bare minimum to help Butler, while giving a wink and a nod to Revily’s and the TEA’s efforts to take him out.
But wait! There’s more. And it’s worse.
While Revily – the supposed “conservative” vendor — was raking in tens of thousands from the Republican Caucus, they also collected $14,000 from the TEA. That’s right, the left-wing, Hillary endorsing (seen the latest Wikileaks?), Obama supporting labor union also hired Revily. What a coincidence!
They were getting away with their scheme until they made a stupid mistake that revealed what was happening. On their 2nd quarter report, the TEA reported a major contriubtion to Democrat Larry Proffitt, a union Democrat who, with union support, is giving GOP Rep. Doc Kumar a run for his money up in Springfield. Less than two weeks later, the TEA spent $6,000 for polling. Were they polling for Larry Proffitt? And what was the “conservative” Revily doing working for the left-wing union? And with whose permission or direction did Revily fell it could get away with it? Casada? Harwell? Sexton?
This is the same Kumar who beat out Harwell’s pick for the Josh Evans seat, Matt Burnett, in 2014.
So now we are faced with an approved and confirmed Republican caucus vendor, on record, working to defeat Republican members in a GENERAL ELECTION. Not a primary. A general.
And Revily did this while their big client, the TEA, was busy attacking a Republican candidate (Butler) who had been forced (er, “strongly encouraged”) to use Revily for his campaign and while the TEA was also actively working for another Democrat (Proffitt) trying to defeat Rep. Kumar
No Ticky, No Washy
That bring us to Rep. Cameron Sexton, a Harwell toady from way back. Cameron is not seriously opposed in the election next week, yet he somehow felt the need to hire Revily to the tune of over $18,000 . Why would he do that?
Well one probable explanation was that he was ”laundering” contributions from Harwell supporters in the business PAC community to conduct surveys that could then be shared with selected candidates (i.e., those who will support Harwell for Speaker). We ain’t saying that is exactly how it went down, but it does have legs.
This is sick. It has to stop.
There is absolutely no doubt that Harwell is completely aware of these sordid arrangements. And yet she runs for re-election as Speaker with a straight face. And as for Casada, House caucus members have to be asking themselves if they want to elevate someone to majority leader if he can’t even play straight with them in his current job as caucus chair.