Question asked. Question answered.
A few days ago RTP asked a rhetorical question: “Would Bill Haslam announce for the senate before, or after his brother was indicted for fraud.”
We may now have our answer: Before.
Multiple sources are telling us Haslam will make some sort of announcement by Friday. We are assuming he is running.
And to put the expected announcement into context, the helpful folks here at Rocky Top provide one of our expert and insightful analyses of the news from the last 24 hours. The biggest news, of course, is that Warren Buffet is buying out the Haslams’ ownership of the family business, Pilot/Flying J. Why is that important, you ask? Well, we’ll tell you.
Despite all the happy talk surrounding the announcement, there is a cold hard reality and likely reason as to why the deal was announced now. Simply put, the Haslam’s are “getting their affairs in order” in the event Bill runs for the senate and Jimmy has to do a perp walk for the multi-million dollar fraud committed by his company. That fraud has already netted more than a dozen indictments and/or convictions. The last of the Pilot senior managers who have not yet pled guilty or worked a plea bargain are scheduled to go to trial in just a few days. IF that trial takes place (an open question because the defendants may cooperate at the last minute), look for lots of embarrassing information about the Haslam family to spew forth. And if the defendants work out deals, look for them to serve up Jimmy Haslam on a platter to the Feds.
Don’t think for a second the Sage of Omaha is not aware of the coming Haslam family troubles and don’t think for another second that, possessed with the knowledge, he did not negotiate a sizable discount on his purchase of Pilot stock. From the Haslams’ position, taking a haircut from Warren Buffet is preferable to having your head lopped off in the market place if your chairman gets indicted. Better to cut your losses while you can. Just try cutting a complicated deal to sell billions in shares when you’re dressed in an orange jumpsuit. Warren Buffet didn’t get to be so damn rich for not knowing how the game is played.
As for The Kid brother, Bill would much rather announce now than to wait while the sordid legal drama plays out in the courts. He’s betting Tennesseans will be too stupid to put everything together and figure out the Haslams have serious ethical, moral and legal problems that make the late, great Bob Corker’s financial shenanigans pale in comparison. Using Warren Buffet’s money to buy up every available advertising spot in the Volunteer State will not just be a political strategy – it will be a political necessity.
Yeah, GOP voters are likely to figure out it’s difficult to drain the swamp when you keep stocking it with avaricious alligators like the Haslams.
One final note: If Bill Haslam thinks he is going to skate by pretending he had no knowledge of his brother’s actions, he is seriously deluded. To illustrate that point, we will leave you with a fresh question, a version of the famous interrogatory once posed by the late Howard Baker:
“What did the Governor know, and when did he know it?”
Stay tuned to Rocky Top for answers.