Loophole in Campaign Law Discovered by a Tennessee GOP

Loophole in Campaign Law Discovered by a Tennessee GOP

8/3/2011

 

In spite of the ban on in-session fundraising, lobbying firms and special interests groups that have business before the General Assembly this spring gave tens of thousands of dollars at a Tennessee Republican Party fundraising activity that will benefit state GOP lawmakers.

While the Democrats and a campaign watchdog are critical of said event, Drew Rawlins, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign and GOP officials say that holding the March 31 fundraising activity at the governor’s mansion was legal.

Rawlins said that they can do that all day long. He also said that while lawmakers are barred from accepting contributions during the legislative session, their political parties can raise funds for party operations, as well as certain political activity.

On the part of Chris Devaney, the Tennessee Republican Party Chairman, he said, “everything is above board … We have followed the law.”

Last week, state parties and elected state officials, as well as political action committees were required to submit their disclosures for the first half of the year until June 30. The filing of the Legislative Campaign Committee of the state GOP showed several individuals, business and groups, and political action committees shelled out money during the session.

Among them were the liquor retailers, Corrections Corp of America, and Tennessee Medical Association. All of them had business before the state legislature.

Dick Williams of the Tennessee-Common Cause, a public watchdog organization, observed that “several of those contributors obviously had something significant before the legislature.”

He also said, “Hopefully, some of these are folks just interested in supporting good government but it’s not a coincidence that most of the larger ones are identified with major legislation.”

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com