As he runs for re-election as Tennessee’s 7th District state senator, Stacey Campfield campaigns from house to house like no other candidate. And standing on your porch, if you don’t know who he is, he seems like an affable conservative, just the kind of nice, regular guy Knox County needs in the Legislature, not beholden to special interests.
But if you do know who Campfield is, you know that mask he puts on for campaigning isn’t the one he wears on the job—even his supporters will admit as much. In the Senate, and before that in the House, Campfield is often combative and abrasive. If you talk to other Republicans who work with him, they’ll privately admit most of the Legislature can’t stand him. Even lobbyists say they don’t like him.
There’s an art to legislating, and a part of that art involves knowing how to work with other people and learning when to compromise. Those are skills that other legislators say Campfield does not have—which is one reason so very little of his legislation has passed in the decade he’s been in office. However, what he has accomplished in the last 10 years is controversy.
As a reminder of Campfield’s many “achievements,” both in the Legislature and outside of it—we present this timeline, a compendium of all the crazy things you remember and all the crazy things you’ve forgotten.
THE EARLY YEARS
June 8, 1968: Stacey T. Campfield is born in upstate New York to Lee and Dale Campfield.
June, 1986: Campfield graduates from Vestal High School. He also wins the school’s “Best Sportsmanship” award for his time on the varsity wrestling team.
1988: Campfield registers to vote in Tioga County, N.Y.
May 26, 1989: Campfield earns his associate’s degree in marketing from Broome Community College in Binghamton, N.Y.
June, 1992: Campfield earns his bachelor’s degree in business from Regents College (now called Excelsior College), a correspondence-course/virtual school in New York.
1995: Campfield registers to vote in Knox County.
Feb. 24, 1997: Campfield buys his first property, at 1409 Hannah Ave., after it had been condemned the previous summer.
FIRST FORAYS INTO POLITICS
April 3: Campfield changes his address from a house he owns in the 15th District to an apartment in the 18th District that a “roommate” is renting. The Election Commission will investigate his residency in July and determine he’s still qualified to run.
April 4: Campfield files his first petition to run for office against state Rep. Steve Buttry. His platform is anti-income tax and anti-tax increase, but he also calls for making education funding a priority.
July 16: Complaining about the theft of “literally hundreds” of his campaign signs, Campfield sets up a sting. He places a sign on Weisgarber Road and waits with a video camera; shortly thereafter, a man steals the sign. A campaign staffer follows the thief to a fund-raising dinner for Buttry and calls the police. The Buttry supporter is charged with a misdemeanor.
July 17: In an editorial endorsing Buttry, the News Sentinel doesn’t even mention his opponent.
Aug. 1: Campfield loses to Buttry but does get 46.5 percent of the vote. When asked if he will consider another stab at political office, Campfield replies, “Sure, why not?”
Oct. 22: At U.S. Rep Jimmy Duncan’s annual barbecue dinner, Campfield follows Democratic candidate for governor Phil Bredesen around all night, holding up a bumper sticker that says “Tax ’n’ Spend Governor.” A Bredesen supporter confronts Campfield, and a fight ensues, with both men rolling around on the ground. Security throws them out of the event; no charges are filed.
April 26: Campfield makes noise about running for the treasurer spot on the Knox County Republican Party’s executive committee, but by the date of the countywide convention, he doesn’t.
Dec. 4: Firmly establishing his residence in the 18th District, Campfield purchases his home in Norwood for $70,400. He now owns six rental properties in addition to his house.
March 22: Buttry announces he won’t seek re-election. Campfield, who has already pulled a petition to run, suddenly faces a much easier road to election.
July 31: Before the primary, Campfield has raised just $3,600, so he gives himself a $6,000 loan.
Aug. 5: By just 227 votes, Campfield ekes out a victory over the owner of Wright’s Cafeteria, Dave Wright. A third candidate, Mike Brown, who had withdrawn from the race but still had his name on the ballot, got 208 votes. “I was outspent so we just went out and worked hard. Hopefully I can spend less money and still win,” Campfield says after his victory.
Aug. 11: Campfield tells the News Sentinel that the incident at the Duncan barbecue in 2002 won’t affect his ability to work with the Democratic governor. “I met [Bredesen] after that event at Panera’s. There is no hard feeling. I was expressing my freedom of speech,” he says.
Oct. 6: Campfield says his campaign is refusing to accept PAC, or political action committee, contributions.
Oct. 13: The News Sentinel reports House minority leader Tre Hargett’s PAC has donated $500 to Campfield.
Oct. 21: The News Sentinel endorses Campfield: “We believe Campfield, with diligence to his district and continued hard work, has the potential to become a solid legislator.”
Nov. 2: Campfield handily beats his Democratic opponent, Michael Carroll, with 65 percent of the vote. “It’s incredibly exciting,” Campfield says after the election. “It’s too good for words.” By the time the election is over, he has $15,200 in campaign debt from loans he’s lent himself.
ONWARD TO PUBLIC SERVICE
Feb. 19: For the first time, Campfield is quoted in an AP story about a controversial piece of legislation he’s introduced, a so-called “bill of rights” to “protect” college students from political or religious “indoctrination” by faculty members. “Most campuses are very liberal, and professors are ashamedly not very open-minded toward our point of view,” Campfield tells the AP. “When somebody speaks up, a lot of times it ends up costing the student their grade.”
March 9: Camp4u, aka lastcar.blogspot.com, comes into being. In his first post, Campfield, calling himself “The Rep,” writes, “Many times here in Nashville the saying is: What happens in Nashville stays in Nashville. I am not a believer in this. I am more of a believer that you shouldn’t do anything in private that you wouldn’t mind seeing on the front page of the paper. So here we go.”
March 23: It takes less than two weeks for the blog to start pissing people off. His response is nonsensical yet grandiose. “A great story once told of a man who charged at wind mills,” he writes. “He was often warned that if he charged at the windmills the wind mills would swing down their great arms and send him down into the mire.....or up among the stars. If this blog is to be my pony I say charge!! Wind mills ahead!!” [all sic]
March 31: Campfield’s blog has already garnered enough controversy that the Memphis Commercial Appeal feels compelled to write an editorial about it. “To those who find the blog too provocative ... Just ignore it,” the paper advises.
April 2: When University of Tennessee officials state the “academic bill of rights” is unnecessary because the university already has procedures in place to deal with situations like Campfield has mentioned, the representative tells the News Sentinel, “They said the same thing about the [need for a] Civil Rights Act in 1964, that laws [dealing with civil rights issues] weren’t being followed.”
Sept-Nov.: Campfield applies for membership in the Legislature’s Black Caucus because, he says, he has a “substantial” number of minorities in his district. (Caucus Chairman Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Jackson, comments, “Stacey Campfield is a strange guy. That’s the best I can say.”) After he’s turned down for membership, Campfield tells reporters that the caucus is more racist than the KKK—“the KKK doesn’t even ban members by race,” he says—and asks the state attorney general to determine whether the caucus is violating the law by excluding white members and accepting federal funds. The head of the Nashville chapter of the NAACP demands Campfield’s resignation, but the caucus leadership offers Campfield an honorary membership if he apologizes. Campfield refuses. “Separate but equal didn’t work in the 1960s. I don’t think it’s going to work now,” he says.
Jan. 6: AG Paul Summers issues an opinion addressing each of Campfield’s 16 questions about the Black Caucus. His office finds no laws being broken.
Jan. 14: Campfield says he will not reintroduce the academic “bill of rights” legislation because the state Board of Regents has signed onto a statement by the American Council on Education that clarifies, “Neither students nor faculty should be disadvantaged or evaluated on the basis of their political opinions.”
March 13: Primary opponent Gary Drinnen books a fund-raiser with big-name supporters like builder Raja Jubran, PR mavens Alan Carmichael and Cynthia Moxley, Republican activist Susan Williams, and former Senate minority leader Ben Atchley. “He can take all the lobbyists and special interests, and I’ll take all the voters,” Campfield comments.
April 4: Bryan Dodson, a 2004 Campfield campaign volunteer, enters the primary. Dodson says he isn’t “running against Campfield but wants to make sure that Drinnen … doesn’t get elected.”
May 27: The 104th Legislative Session ends. Not a single bill sponsored by Campfield passes.
July 1: Campfield has just $547 on hand in his campaign fund with a month left before the election, and he still owes himself $15,390. Drinnen has $12,688 on hand and has raised over $25,000 during the campaign.
July 20: The News Sentinel endorses Drinnen.
July 31: Campfield spends $1,718 in postage from his official legislative account to send out mailings to constituents promoting “his efforts to crack down on child predators” and “his legislative efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.” He tells reporters the mailings are “not campaign-related material,” adding, “I really don’t think it’s unethical to inform my constituents about what’s going on.”
Aug. 3: Two opponents splitting the vote doesn’t even matter this time around: Campfield trounces them both with almost 65 percent of the vote.
Sept. 25: Campfield denies his campaign is doing push polls asking if respondents know his Democratic opponent’s campaign is being “financed by trial lawyers out to bankrupt doctors with malpractice suits.” He blames the state GOP; the party denies it is conducting the polls.
Oct 19: The News Sentinel endorses Campfield’s Democratic opponent, Schree Pettigrew, who has garnered high-profile support from politicians like Bredesen, former Gov. Ned McWherter, and House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh.
Nov. 7: Campfield is easily re-elected to the House with 56 percent of the vote over Pettigrew.
FURTHER FORAYS INTO CONTROVERSY
Jan. 18: Campfield says he will introduce legislation to tax pornography and perhaps strip clubs and use the revenue to get rid of the 6 percent sales tax on groceries. “If somebody wants to buy Debbie Does Dallas, they can pay a little extra for it,” Campfield says.
Jan. 23: State Sen. Tim Burchett introduces legislation to drug-test welfare recipients. It doesn’t go anywhere this year or the next, but Campfield will later pick up the idea and run with it.
Feb. 8: Campfield files legislation to issue death certificates to aborted fetuses, which would, in effect, create a registry of every woman in the state who has an abortion. Campfield comments, “At least we would see how many lives are being ended out there by abortions,” forgetting to mention the state Office of Vital Records already tracks those numbers. House Judiciary Chairman Rob Briley calls Campfield’s proposal “the most preposterous bill I’ve seen in eight years in the Legislature.” It doesn’t go anywhere.
April 18: The pornography tax, now nicknamed the “porn, not corn” bill, passes out of one committee in the House. The bill would cut the grocery tax to 3 percent and impose a 25 percent tax on buying porn or sex toys, renting adult movies at hotels, and any escort services. Strippers would also be charged a $400 annual occupational privilege tax. Campfield says his plan will raise $50 million. The fiscal note on the bill says it will cost the state $200 million. It doesn’t make it through another committee.
April 23: In a News Sentinel profile, political reporter Tom Humphrey quotes Rep. Mike Turner “complaining that Campfield ‘can’t pass a bill on [his] own’ and has taken to improper floor interference with other legislators’ bills ‘all the dadgum time.’” Campfield tells Humphrey the Democrats are just trying to “intimidate” him and compares his inability to get any legislation passed to “the 18th-century efforts of William Wilberforce to convince England’s Parliament to abolish slavery.”
May 23: During discussion on legislation to close handgun-carry permit records, Campfield introduces a last-minute amendment that would prevent universities from penalizing students who bring guns on campus. “I think this is a step in the direction of helping people carry legal guns on campus,” Campfield says. The amendment fails, but the idea will return.
June 17: In Humphrey’s annual post-session roundup, he names Campfield “least likely to succeed” after not one of the 50 bills he introduced during the year went anywhere. In his column the following week, Humphrey will add, “deeming him least likely to succeed in passing legislation does not mean he was without success otherwise. He was very successful in annoying the House powers that be.”
Oct. 9: A budget surplus results in a $20 million state fund for community grants, with legislator-backed applications getting precedence. The Knoxville City Council formally accepts Campfield’s $100,000 grant, which will allow the city to offer a 1.25 percent discount to homeowners who pay their property taxes within 30 days of receiving the bill, instead of the usual 1 percent. Campfield says he wanted the city to have the money because he doesn’t “like the whole idea of pork,” adding, “I’d rather give it back to the taxpayer.” He doesn’t mention that as the owner of eight houses, he also stands to benefit.
Jan. 17: Campfield files legislation that requires all women to receive an ultrasound before getting an abortion. It dies within a month.
Feb. 13: News outlets take note of Campfield’s newest legislation, a bill that would prevent teachers from mentioning homosexuality at all in schools, soon to become known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Campfield tells the Commercial Appeal that the bill is needed to combat forced diversity initiatives in education. “‘Jack and Jill went up the hill’—some organizations say you can’t teach that because it pushes a heterosexual agenda. … I don’t think our schools have reading, writing and arithmetic down enough to start teaching about transgenderism,” he says.
Feb. 15: Campfield says he is shocked, just shocked, at the media attention “Don’t Say Gay” has gotten. “I really didn’t think it would be this big a deal. … To me, it’s just common sense,” he says.
Feb. 16: Campfield says the shootings at Northern Illinois University, which resulted in six deaths (including the suicide of the shooter), show the need for his “guns on campus” bill to pass. “It’s like sheep to the slaughter when no one can defend themselves,” he says of gun-free zones. Nonetheless, his bill dies in March.
Feb. 18: UT attorney Ron Leadbetter announces he will challenge Campfield in the primary.
February 19: The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is quickly shot down in committee. Rep. Ulysses Jones posits the whole thing is just part of Campfield’s re-election campaign.
March 5: It turns out Campfield doesn’t profit from last fall’s tax discount after all—he pays his seven delinquent property taxes only after a reporter questions him about them.
April 3: A third challenger, UT student Jonathan Katsiros, enters the House race. Meanwhile, Leadbetter discloses that Campfield has tried to talk him out of running.
May 21: The 105th session ends. In four years, Campfield has yet to get a single bill passed.
Aug. 7: Despite Leadbetter’s prominent supporters and larger campaign chest, Campfield again wins the primary with almost 54 percent of the vote. As no Democrat has even bothered to run for the seat, he’s assured another two years in the House. He still owes himself $13,202 in loans.
Aug. 19: Burchett announces that he will probably run for Knox County Mayor in 2010. Campfield says if that happens, he will run for Burchett’s Senate seat.
Sept. 9: Two of Campfield’s donors are charged with violating a state statute prohibiting lobbyists from donating to candidates.
Oct. 14: Campfield posts on his blog that Roger Byrge, a Democratic candidate for House in Campbell and Union Counties, has a record of drug arrests. It is quickly debunked in news reports, but Byrge loses his race anyway.
Nov. 4: Republicans take control of the House for the first time.
Jan. 8: The city of Knoxville condemns a rental property Campfield owns, citing 47 violations, including sewage in the basement and “bootleg wiring.” Campfield counters that his “problem” tenants just want out of the lease and the problems are of their own doing. The tenants say he’s lying.
Feb. 14: Campfield becomes a plaintiff in a lawsuit demanding President Barack Obama show his birth certificate. “I want to end the controversy,” Campfield tells the News Sentinel.
Feb. 20: Byrge files a libel suit against Campfield, asking for $750,000 in damages. Campfield asks for the suit to be dismissed, citing “legislative immunity.”
Feb. 26: By the House deadline, Campfield has refiled his bills requiring death certificates for fetuses, allowing guns on campus, and taxing porn. “Don’t Say Gay” is back, too, along with a new initiative to prevent the state from issuing birth certificates to children born to undocumented immigrants. He also files a bill to prevent people on food stamps from receiving more than $600 in lottery winnings.
April 17: After a former tenant files suit against him, Campfield says it’s the media’s fault that he’s having issues with his rental properties. “People are realizing the way to attack me is to go to a willing media and try to intimidate me,” Campfield tells the News Sentinel.
June 18: The Legislature adjourns. Campfield has finally managed to get two minor bills through.
Aug. 8: Campfield officially announces that he’s running for Burchett’s seat.
Oct. 31: Campfield wears a Mexican luchador wrestling mask to a UT football game. Only problem? The stadium has banned Halloween masks for safety reasons. Oh, and he’s sitting in Section B, when his ticket was for Section LL. After being confronted by a police officer, Campfield is kicked out of the stadium. The Vols go on to defeat South Carolina, 31-13.
Jan. 27: “Don’t Say Gay” is back, but quickly stalls in committee. It will reappear briefly in April, only to die again.
Feb. 22: Those 47 violations notwithstanding, Campfield wins a $4,021 judgment against the college students who broke their lease when the rental property was condemned. Campfield says he has been “vindicated.”
March 21: Campfield gets into a war of words with UT vice-president Hank Dye after Dye criticizes legislation Campfield has introduced this session, including a bill prohibiting the school from disciplining athletes for owning guns. “Maybe if he spent more time finding and keeping a quality football coach and less time trying to take away constitutional freedoms, he’d hear from me less,” Campfield says.
April 5: Campfield parks his car on the sidewalk in front of the Capitol because he’s running late for a vote, although his assigned parking space is a block away. He doesn’t get a ticket. After the News Sentinel criticizes the action, Campfield writes a letter to the editor, stating, “Because the story implies that I’m a lawbreaker or a regular parker on sidewalks, I think the story is actually malicious and defamatory in intent.”
July 1: Magicians/comedians Penn and Teller make fun of Campfield on their Showtime show Bullshit!. Campfield comes back on his blog, “Of course they went after me but when the top insult they have is ‘Isn’t Stacey a girls[sic] name?’ I am not real worried. OOOOH! Like I haven’t heard that one since the third grade.”
July 5: Campfield’s latest campaign signs look suspiciously like Coca-Cola logos. When WATE asks him about it, he says his opponents are just “jealous,” adding, “I say if they are looking for a candidate who is refreshingly conservative, they will enjoy voting for the real thing, Stacey Campfield.” Coke doesn’t comment at the time, but in 2014 will issue the following statement to Metro Pulse: “Political campaign materials that resemble our company’s brand do not imply an endorsement by The Coca-Cola Company.”
July 28: Heading into the primary, Campfield has to loan himself another $6,300, bringing his campaign debt to $20,796. Two of his three opponents, Leadbetter and Steve Hill, have massively out-raised Campfield.
Aug. 5: Leadbetter, Hill, and unknown Nicolas Ciparro (the stepbrother of 2008’s challenger Katsiros) split the anti-Campfield vote, and the Rep is on his way to becoming the Sen, but just barely. He gets almost 40 percent of the vote to Ron Leadbetter’s 36 percent.
Sept. 30: After he wins the nomination, Campfield gets almost $38,000 in donations (including $100 from “sergeon” Richard Briggs). He finally pays off his longstanding campaign debt to himself—totaling more than $34,000.
Nov. 2: Campfield whups Democrat Randy Walker by a 20 percent margin, despite many Democrats thinking Campfield would be easier to beat than Leadbetter or Hill. At the Election Night festivities, Campfield notes that a lot of people were not happy that he had won. “Sorry,” he says. After his speech ends, Knox County Republican Chair Ray Jenkins says that’s the “only apology you will get from Stacey Campfield.”
AT LAST, NATIONAL NOTORIETY!
Jan. 14: Once again, the “guns on campus” bill is back.
Jan. 26: After a couple of conservative Catholic parents raise a fuss about Planned Parenthood presenting sex education information in Knox County schools, Campfield joins their cause. Eventually, he succeeds in stripping all state funding from Planned Parenthood—none of which was used for abortions, and all of which was used for preventative health care and family planning.
Feb. 17: Campfield introduces the “Tennessee Nullification Reaffirmation Act,” which calls for a new legislative committee to review federal laws and nullify those “found offensive to states’ rights.” It’s one of 94 bills he files this year—including the return of “Don’t Say Gay.”
April 20: “Don’t Say Gay” passes out of committee in the Senate. Comedian Del Shores has offered to debate Campfield over the bill. The senator requests a $1,000 retainer to do so—which is against Senate ethics rules.
May 4: “Guns on campus” dies for the year, along with Campfield’s measure to allow legislators to carry weapons in the Capitol.
May 10: The Daily Show picks up on “Don’t Say Gay” and mocks Campfield. “You know, keeping people from saying the word ‘gay’ is not really going to keep people from being gay,” Jon Stewart says. “Being gay isn’t like Beetlejuice, where if you say ‘gay’ too many times, you’re gay.”
May 19: Actor George Takei of Star Trek fame uploads a deadpan video encouraging Tennesseans to use his last name in place of the word “gay” to comply with the proposed law. “Even homophobic slurs don’t seem as hurtful if someone says, ‘That is sooo Takei,’” he states. The video has now been viewed almost 1.4 million times.
May 20: “Don’t Say Gay” actually passes the Senate. But the House decides to skip it for the year.
July 31: In an interview with Nashville’s City Paper, Gov. Haslam criticizes Campfield—and the media’s coverage of him. “The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill didn’t pass and probably is never going to pass. … ‘Don’t Say Gay’ got 100 articles. Well, something’s wrong with that picture. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ is real sexy and yada yada yada. It’s not going anywhere,” Haslam says.
Dec. 3: As the state co-chair of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, Campfield starts pushing for involvement and dismisses concerns about the candidate’s personal life. “It’s true a lot of people don’t like the fact he’s been married before,” Campfield says. “But he’s not running for Husband of the Year.”
Dec. 21: Campfield announces he will again introduce legislation to start drug testing welfare recipients, after a similar bill went nowhere earlier in the year.
Dec. 30: In response to Campfield, Rep. G.A. Hardaway says he will introduce legislation to drug-test legislators. “With all the crazy legislation that we produced over the last couple of years, I’m sure that some people would love for us to be drug-tested,” Hardaway says. Campfield replies that he’ll willingly be tested.
Jan. 11: Once again, Campfield reintroduces “Don’t Say Gay.” This time there’s a new sponsor in the House, and Campfield promises it will pass.
Jan. 21: Campfield introduces legislation allowing a “landlord to terminate rental agreement if tenant creates a hazardous or unsanitary, instead of hazardous and unsanitary, condition on the property; revises certain provisions regarding accounts for security deposits”—exactly the issues involved in his various lawsuits with tenants. The bill passes and become law in July.
Jan. 26: Michaelangelo Signorile interviews Campfield about “Don’t Say Gay” on his satellite radio show. Among the senator’s inflammatory statements: “Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community—it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.” The interview goes viral.
Jan. 29: When Campfield tries to have brunch at the Bistro at the Bijou, owner Martha Boggs kicks him out of the restaurant and posts on Facebook, “I hope that Stacy Campfield now knows what if feels like to be unfairly discrimanted against” [all sic]. The post goes viral, and Boggs gets the national interviews usually reserved for Campfield. “I didn’t want his hate in my restaurant,” Boggs tells us. “I told him he wasn’t welcome here. … I feel like he’s gone from being stupid to being dangerous, and I wanted to stand up to him.”
March 3: Two days before a Gingrich visit to Knoxville and three days before the primary, Campfield endorses Rick Santorum, even though the senator is on the ballot as a Gingrich delegate. “Unfortunately, politics is a cruel mistress. Things shift and momentum turns,” Campfield writes on his blog, saying his decision is based on Santorum’s recent surge in the polls. Gingrich’s Southeastern campaign coordinator Maria Zack comments, “I’m honestly not sure how engaged [Campfield] was in the campaign.”
March 31: Gingrich’s campaign asks the state Republican party not to seat Campfield as a delegate at the national convention.
April 29: “Don’t Say Gay” dies in the House shortly before the Legislature closes up shop for the year.
May 1: On the last day of the session, the Legislature passes a slightly narrowed bill to drug test welfare recipients with the provision it shall not go into effect until 2014.
June 12: Vestal High School senior Nisha Dalvie writes an editorial in the school newspaper arguing that having Campfield in the school’s Hall of Fame flies in the face of its attempt to combat discrimination. Alumni rally to her side, and an online petition calling for Campfield’s removal from the Hall gathers 1,200 signatures.
June 26: The Vestal Board of Education decides not to kick Campfield out of the Hall of Fame. Board president Kim Myers tells the crowd that the NFL Hall of Fame didn’t kick out O.J. Simpson after he allegedly committed murder. “The courageous and difficult thing to do is to stand up for our beliefs to model what we expect and teach our students and defend the rights of a man whose words make our skin crawl,” Myers says.
Aug. 27: Psychology Today blogs about Campfield, saying he “out-does Todd Akin” (the former U.S. representative from Missouri who said raped women rarely get pregnant) and suggests his homophobia could be disguising his attraction to men.
Aug. 28: Despite his reversal, Campfield is allowed to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and to be seated as a Gingrich delegate. On the same day, Campfield blogs about how Akin was actually right about that “legitimate rape” stuff.
Jan. 24: Campfield files welfare legislation, which would cut a family’s benefits by 30 percent if any of their children fail “to maintain satisfactory academic progress” in high school. “The state can not continue to support the generational cycle of poverty. Just because parents may have quit school does not mean it is acceptable if their child does. … The goal is not to punish anyone,” Campfield writes on his blog. Within just a couple of days, Campfield’s proposal is featured on Fox and MSNBC.
Jan. 29: Campfield files a new version of “Don’t Say Gay” that adds a provision to effectively “out” gay students, requiring schools to tell parents if a student has talked to a counselor questioning his or her sexuality.
Jan. 31: A constituent writes to Campfield expressing her concerns over his legislation. He e-mails back, “You seem to have some serious, deep anger issues. Have you ever thought about therapy? I hear they are doing some wonderful things with medications these days.” The response goes viral.
Feb. 1: TMZ interviews Campfield over the e-mail. Campfield claims gays are “the biggest bullies in the world” and says they should “quit trying to ram [gay rights] down everybody’s throats.”
Feb. 7: On the same day that Knox County Commissioner Dr. Richard Briggs announces he will run against Campfield in 2014, The Colbert Report lampoons the senator as “the lost Weasley brother.” Stephen Colbert comments, regarding the welfare bill, “Once again, he has set his sights on the freeloadiest of all freeloaders: Children.”
Feb. 16: In a blog post, Campfield says he’s not in it for the attention. “Honestly I am probably as sick of seeing my name and face on TV and radio as you are. … If given the choice of lots of media or none at all, I would take the none at all. Really, I would prefer no stories on me or my legislation. Seriously. None. Zero. Zip.”
March 15: After discovering UT is hosting Sex Week, Campfield says he will try to get the Legislature to revoke passage of the university’s budget.
March 20: It turns out the Legislature can’t un-pass legislation, but it can put pressure on administrators. UT pulls $11,145 in funding from Sex Week at the last minute. The students putting on the event start a Kickstarter campaign to make up the funding gap (and succeed). Campfield promises future legislative challenges.
March 26: The reformulated “Don’t Say Gay” bill dies for the year in a House committee.
March 30: In a surprisingly bland affair, Campfield debates comedian J. LaLonde at the Square Room. LaLonde says, “I think he enjoys the spotlight just as much as a comedian would, except his bills don’t have punchlines to them.”
April 8: The AP reports on Campfield’s 2011 deposition in the Byrge lawsuit. He says he won’t pay any damages if Byrge wins. “I mean, I can show you my tax returns. If you think you’re going to get money out of me, it’s laughable,” Campfield states, claiming to only make $30,000 a year despite his $20,000 legislative salary (not including per diems or expense reimbursements) and 12 rental properties. Later in the document Campfield is asked whether he has “a right to disparage or demean, or to call someone a criminal when that statement’s not true.” He answers, “I believe legally, probably, there is the right to do that because I’ve had it happen to me. … You can do anything. … That’s freedom of speech. The newspaper reports on things that I do all the time.”
April 9: The Daily Show picks up Campfield’s welfare bill. Jon Stewart asks, “Is Stacey Campfield a state senator or a villain from a Dickens novel? … Who is this Tennessee state Senator Stacey Campfield, who wants to turn school into the actual Hunger Games?”
April 11: Protesters throng the Capitol in advance of a vote on the welfare bill. An 8-year-old girl confronts Campfield, who responds rudely, “I love it when people use children as props.” The bill dies for the year, but the video of Campfield blowing off the student goes viral.
April 21: Less than a week after the Boston Marathon bombing, Campfield posts a picture of an “assault pressure cooker” on his blog, sarcastically implying that U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein would expand gun control measures beyond reason. It does not go over well, and, again, goes viral. He refuses to apologize, telling ABC News, “I think it’s tasteless when Obama will drag everybody he can up to Capitol Hill and try to pass gun control.” Later Campfield appears on Piers Morgan’s CNN show to defend himself and says guns can be used “as a walking stick” if you don’t want to shoot them.
May 16: Although the session has ended, Campfield calls a special hearing to question UT president Joe DiPietro about Sex Week. “In my professional opinion, it is very, very important on a university campus to have some sex education going on,” DiPietro says. “I have a professional obligation to preserve the First Amendment. I’m sorry.” Campfield replies that the issue is “forcing students to pay for speech they find objectionable,” like a “transgender cross-dressing show.” Campfield says, “If someone wants to dress up like a duck, God bless them. But I shouldn’t have to pay for it.”
Aug. 14: Campfield announces plans for a “Merry Christmas” bill next session. “This stops all these silly lawsuits that say you can’t say ‘merry Christmas’ or ‘happy Hanukkah’ or have a Christmas tree,” Campfield tells the News Sentinel. “The ACLU is always freaking out about that stuff.” The head of the ACLU, Hedy Weinberg, responds, “Sen. Campfield is envisioning a problem that does not exist. … As Gov. Haslam has said, legislators should not be filing legislation just to be wasting paper, and this seems to be one of the things that would be in that category.”
Aug. 28: After Mayor Madeline Rogero succeeds in finally killing off the James White Parkway extension, Campfield criticizes the move. “The Green Gestapo wants to stop any road — or any infrastructure development — that doesn’t go directly to their house,” he says. (Rogero actually lives near the James White Parkway.)
Oct. 3: News breaks that Campfield’s staff member Bryan Dodson has been fired after violating the Legislature’s policy of campaigning on the state payroll. Dodson apparently worked most of August in Knoxville instead of at the Capitol as required, and, while in town, went door to door with campaign literature. Campfield denies Dodson was campaigning on his behalf.
Oct. 7: Campfield sends out an e-mail invitation to an Oct. 22 fund-raiser from his state account, which is prohibited. He claims it was sent in error. Also in error: the location for the event, DeSano Pizza Bakery, which hasn’t heard anything about it. “We had no knowledge nor were we ever contacted about this event. We would never host any political event for either side, ever. All we want to do is try to make great pizza,” owner Scott DeSano says.
Oct. 17: “Stacey Campfield” is added to the Urban Dictionary website. The term is related to a female personal hygiene product.
Jan. 13: Campfield introduces legislation to allow guns in public parks, even if a city has banned them. Haslam expresses concerns. The bill will make it through the Senate but stall in the House.
Jan. 31: In his second campaign finance report, Briggs reports contributions of $122,180. Campfield raises almost $17,000.
Feb. 5: Campfield files the second of two bills to prevent Sex Week—which is already scheduled for March—by prohibiting any student fees to be spent on any guest speaker.
Feb. 10: When Rep. Andy Holt introduces a resolution to encourage Sean Hannity to move to Tennessee, House Democrats offer the following amendment: “WHEREAS, Tennessee is proud to be the home of New York native, conservative icon, and star of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Senator Stacey Campfield of Knoxville.” The amendment doesn’t pass. The resolution does.
Feb. 19: At a hearing before a Senate committee, Campfield says his legislation is needed because “there have been about 10 to 1 liberal to conservative speakers” at UT in recent years. DiPietro says the idea of banning speakers is “very troublesome.”
Feb. 27: Campfield is invited to experience Sex Week before passing judgment via a Facebook post. He responds, “While you may think a person has to experience everything to know if they like it or not, i dont [sic] feel the need to stick my head up the south side of a cow to decide if it is something to be appreciated.”
March 2: A bill Campfield is co-sponsoring with Rep. Joe Carr (who’s running against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander) to prevent crossover voting in primaries draws criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. “If [voters] have to sign off on some sort of loyalty oath before they go to the polls, they aren’t going to turn out,” says Chris Devaney, the head of the Tennessee Republican Party. The bill will die a week later.
March 5: Following in the footsteps of the House, the Senate passes a resolution condemning Sex Week. Campfield criticizes the non-binding measure as “virtually worthless” and asks, “Why can’t we just pull the trigger and do something now? Why are we kicking the can down the road?”
March 24: Campfield announces he’s dropping both Sex Week bills after UT agrees to let students opt out of fees funding controversial programming. “The opt out was the key to me. That’s what I wanted all along,” Campfield says.
March 30: At the end of the first quarter fund-raising period, Briggs has almost $157,500 on hand. Campfield, prohibiting from raising money while in session, has almost $23,000 in his account.
April 2: With less than 24 hours before the deadline, Mike Alford becomes the third candidate in the Republican primary. His petition is turned in by Campfield’s former staffer Dodson.
April 16: A revamped version of last year’s welfare bill, now called the “The Parental Involvement to End Poverty Act,” passes both chambers. The bill requires people applying for welfare to submit proof their children have passing grades in school or that they have attended parent-teacher conferences, taken parenting classes, or enrolled their kids in tutoring or summer school. It becomes law.
May 5: In a blog post, Campfield writes, “Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of manditory [sic] sign ups for ‘train rides’ for Jews in the 40s.” National outrage ensues. Even Devaney calls the comments “ignorant and repugnant.” When the News Sentinel contacts Campfield about it, he tells them “he is not making an apology and believes the analogy is appropriate.” Later he posts on his blog, “I regret that some people miss the point of my post. It was not to offend.”
May 15: After Haslam criticizes Campfield’s blog post and hints at a Briggs endorsement, the senator comments, “I’m sure people say bad things about the governor and his family. I’m not going to go down that road.”
June 27: Casey Stampfield: The Musical premieres in Nashville. The Tennessean review says, “[T]here’s an unmistakable cringe factor as ‘Stampfield’ reminds us why Tennessee so often ends up being used as a punchline on late-night television.”
July 1: Two years after it was approved by the Legislature, Campfield’s bill to require drug testing welfare recipients goes into effect. The ACLU says it will sue.
July 13: Briggs and Campfield appear on both Inside Tennessee and Tennessee This Week. On the former, Campfield tells WBIR’s John Becker, “I don’t like personal attacks.” On the latter, he says to WATE’s Gene Patterson, “I think everybody knows I don’t have any ill will in my heart towards anyone.”
July 18: Early voting starts.
Aug. 7: This is it. Election Day. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.