ear (2008-11)

Ear to the Ground

Failure to File

A Nashville think tank says 1,200 officials around the state are violating the state ethics law in not filing a disclosure form on time.

The state ethics bill included a little-noticed provision that local officials and candidates file an ethics disclosure form each year by Jan. 31. The deadline was extended to Feb. 15 of this year, since it is new. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research picked eight local officials from Memphis to the Tri-Cities to single out with ethics complaints to expose the issue.

â“These eight are just the beginning. We will continue (to) file charges until every local official in the state is transparent and open with their constituents about possible conflicts of interest,â” said Drew Johnson, president of the organization.

The eight include Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks, who voted for the bill when she served in the legislature. The list in the complaint includes Knox County Sheriff Jimmy â“J.J.â” Jones, but Jones was not appointed to the job until Feb. 20. He was a candidate in the Feb. 5 primary, however.

Commission candidate Steve Drevik notes that he and fellow Democrats Sam McKenzie and Vernon Rose are the only local candidates to file the paperwork and asks in a press release where his opponent Ed Shouse and other candidatesâ’ paperwork might be. Drevik says all candidates were provided the paperwork by the Election Commission when they picked up a petition.

The law requires public officials to disclose where they get their income, what investments they hold, and any major loans they have outstanding.

Portrait of a Diplomat

Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, now ambassador to Poland, has had a busy week. On Monday he was in the Oval Office accompanying the Polish prime minister to a meeting with President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On Wednesday, back in Poland, he had lunch and dinner with recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, who was on a visit to Poland to make a speech and visit with Polish government officials.

In between these events, Ashe attended a ceremony at the City County building on Tuesday for the unveiling of mayoral portraits. Ashe and former mayors Kyle Testerman and Randy Tyree joined current Mayor Bill Haslam to dedicate the new portrait gallery in the fifth-floor atrium, which features portraits of the cityâ’s mayors.

Ashe lost a U.S. Senate race to Gore in 1984 and defeated Tyree in two mayoral elections.


Knox County Democratic Chair Don Daugherty, frustrated with the party bureaucracy, is joining with other Democrats to form a political action committee to raise money for state and local Democrats in the August and November elections.

They will form Democrat Victory â’08 PAC and will hold a series of events as fund-raisers for Democratic candidates.

Daugherty has been in a losing battle with the partyâ’s executive committee to charge higher prices for the annual Truman Day dinner with James Carville as speaker. His opponents say they need to keep the cost of the tickets down, so more Democrats can attend, while the chair is arguing the party needs to raise money to elect its candidates.

Gay 101

The headline-grabbing bill-going-nowhere for this session by state Rep. Stacy Campfield is a prohibition against the mention of homosexuality in state classrooms. He proposes to forbid mention in any school curriculum, a problem his colleagues had not noticed as a problem. The matter has been deferred to the state Department of Education to see if they can run down instances of gay instruction.

As per usual, the controversial Republican representative (and blogger) will have an opponent in the primary and most likely an opponent in the general election. But this time around the competition may get a little stiffer. Instead of the Knoxville establishment finding a young sacrificial lamb to run, Campfield will likely be opposed in the August primary by Ron Leadbetter. Leadbetter, a leader in the Young Americans for Freedom during his student days in the 1970s, is a conservative who can go toe-to-toe with Campfield on conservative issues. Leadbetter is an attorney at the University of Tennessee.

Democrat Tommy Prince, a former Knox County school board member, had said earlier he would likely challenge Campfield in the general election in November.

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