My Platform – Part 5: The Law Director

One of the interesting and fun things about being a candidate for office is the fact that people come to you and ask your opinion on things. Makes sense, I guess. I’m trying to be elected to the Legislative Branch of Knox County government. In the course of the campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to offer my opinion on issues of the day in a few places. I’ll share more about those when they come out. But, I find that if I’m writing an answer to some question that is asked of me, I have more to say about some things than the venue permits. So I’ve had to provide some shortened answers in those situations. But here at my campaign website, the space is unlimited. Therefore, I’m going to take some of these questions I’ve gotten, do some long form answers to them and put them on the ol’ campaign website. Enjoy.

It appears that the Knox County Charter Review Committee may be looking in 2020 at whether to make Knox County’s Law Director a position appointed by the Mayor.   Under Section 3.08 of the Knox County Charter, the Law Director is elected to four year terms and is subject to the term limits that apply to all elected officials under the Charter.  There are some, though, who want to make this a position appointed by the Knox County Mayor, rather than elected by the voters.

I support keeping the Law Director as an elected position.  The Law Director, among other things, provides legal advice to County officials concerning their respective offices and litigates on behalf of the County in civil actions.  If the Law Director becomes a position appointed by the Mayor, then he or she loses some independence to offer unvarnished legal advice to County officials and loses the accountability and connection he or she would otherwise have in being selected by the voters of Knox County.

If I am fortunate enough to be elected by the Knox County voters as District 4 Commissioner, I would oppose (and vote accordingly) any attempt to make the Law Director an appointed position.  I hold the same opinion for attempts to change any other position, designated in the Charter as an elected position, to be appointed by the Knox County Mayor.

I have previously written about the TVA East Tower “purchase.” You can read about that here. I think that issue is the perfect example of why the Law Director should remain an elected position, rather than be appointed by the Mayor.  It appears that the Law Director’s legal advice on this East Tower “purchase” issue has put him at odds with the Mayor.  But, since the Law Director is ultimately accountable to the voters, he has the independence to offer his unvarnished legal advice on the matter even though he might anger or disappoint the Mayor.  If the Law Director were appointed by the Mayor, he might not feel as free to take a legal position at odds with the Mayor’s wishes.

My Platform – Part 4: Walkability In Knox County

One of the interesting and fun things about being a candidate for office is the fact that people come to you and ask your opinion on things. Makes sense, I guess. I’m trying to be elected to the Legislative Branch of Knox County government. In the course of the campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to offer my opinion on issues of the day in a few places. I’ll share more about those when they come out. But, I find that if I’m writing an answer to some question that is asked of me, I have more to say about some things than the venue permits. So I’ve had to provide some shortened answers in those situations. But here at my campaign website, the space is unlimited. Therefore, I’m going to take some of these questions I’ve gotten, do some long form answers to them and put them on the ol’ campaign website. Enjoy.

There are two issues that have to do with walkability in Knox County that are currently being discussed at the Commission. I thought I would share some thoughts on those.

At the Commission’s work session on January 21, 2020, they approved a resolution adopting the Knox County Greenway Corridor Study which recommends approximately 65 miles of greenway alignment in the County. You can see the study here (fair warning it’s 96 pages long).

I agree with the Commission’s adoption of this resolution. I think an expanded and connected greenway system in Knox County could improve the quality of life for Knox County residents.  Such a system can provide alternative routes of transportation for some and an opportunity for exercise and fun in the outdoors for others.  Improving our existing, mostly disconnected greenway system could be a draw for people to come visit and/or live in Knox County.

Of course, just approving a resolution like this only goes part of the way to actually getting improvement of the greenways in Knox County. This is a long term project. It’s important that the Commission follow up this vote with some actual funding in the budget to bring the projects contemplated in the Study to fruition. I will follow this closely, especially since one of the corridors studied runs along Northshore Drive, in the heart of the 4th District. As Commissioner, I will fight for including funding in future Knox County budgets for the greenway corridors included in this Study.

There is another issue before the Commission which touches upon walkability in Knox County. At the Commission’s Work Session on January 21, 2020, the Commission had a public forum for discussion of a proposed change to Chapter 54 of the Knox County Code. It appears this proposed change will roll back a requirement, adopted in 2017, that all new subdivisions in the County should include sidewalks. The change is proposed by the Jacobs administration and would require sidewalks only in certain circumstances. The final vote on this ordinance will take place on January 28, 2020 at the Commission’s monthly meeting.

From the reporting I’ve seen on this ordinance, it appears that the Jacobs Administration’s proposed change is in response to concerns of developers. This change is not unopposed, as there were several speakers from various parts of the community who came out against the change at the public forum. I believe the ordinance, as adopted in 2017, has the right focus on walkability in the County. I also note that this is the second current issue before the Commission (including the TVA East Tower Deal) where the Jacobs administration appears to be prioritizing development at the expense of ordinary citizens and residents of Knox County. I think we should pursue reasonable and responsible development in Knox County in both the commercial and residential sectors. But that means listening to the voices of all interested parties. I disagree with this proposed change and I hope the current Commissioners vote it down. If I were a Commissioner, I would vote against the proposed change to Knox County Code, Chapter 54.

My Platform – Part 3: The TVA Tower Deal

One of the interesting and fun things about being a candidate for office is the fact that people come to you and ask your opinion on things. Makes sense, I guess. I’m trying to be elected to the Legislative Branch of Knox County government. In the course of the campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to offer my opinion on issues of the day in a few places. I’ll share more about those when they come out. But, I find that if I’m writing an answer to some question that is asked of me, I have more to say about some things than the venue permits. So I’ve had to provide some shortened answers in those situations. But here at my campaign website, the space is unlimited. Therefore, I’m going to take some of these questions I’ve gotten, do some long form answers to them and put them on the ol’ campaign website. Enjoy.

One of the big issues percolating at the County Commission is the proposed deal for Knox County to “buy” the East Tower at the Tennessee Valley Authority complex at 400 W. Summit Drive in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. Part of the deal is also to acquire the Summer Place complex. The cost is about $14 million. I wrote a little bit about this here. I put “buy” in quotation marks because it’s a complicated arrangement where Knox County will take possession of the property through an easement. The administration has explained that they can’t buy the property outright because it would have to be put up for auction by the TVA to do that.

The beginning rationale for doing this deal is that the Jacobs administration wants to move the School Board out of the Andrew Johnson Building (AJ) at 901 S. Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. They have a preliminary agreement to sell that property to a developer out of Nashville once the School Board is out.

So, option number one for the Jacobs administration is “buy” the TVA East Tower, move the School Board there and then sell the AJ. Straightforward enough at first blush. But there are some hiccups.

First hiccup is how they’re buying it. The aforementioned easement arrangement. Since Knox County is not going to be the owner of the property, the Tower comes with a requirement for federal security standards for entrance to the property. Essentially, this means that moving the School Board to the East Tower will make it harder for residents to get access to the Board and its employees.

Second hiccup is that the School Board may not be legally permitted to move to a property that is not wholly controlled by the Board. So the easement nature of this “purchase” puts in jeopardy the ability of the School Board to make the move. This is the opinion of the Knox County Law Director and his opinion is, not surprisingly, at odds with the Jacobs administration. The resolution of this issue appears to be coming down to a potential opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General, which they have not yet received.

Option two for the property is that they still want to “buy” the property. If the School Board cannot or will not move there, then Mayor Jacobs expressed his intention to move some other government offices to the TVA East Tower. They seem to believe that this is such a good deal that they need to go ahead with the “purchase” of the property and then they will figure out how to make it fit after the fact.

The first hiccup is the same for option two. Increased security standards makes it harder for residents to access Knox County government offices. To me, the administration’s answer to the hiccup is some variation on “it’s not as big a deal as you’re making it out to be.”

The second hiccup for option two is that moving some select number of other government offices to the East Tower splits up government offices into two locations. This could hamper the ability of certain offices to work with one another. The administration’s answer to this hiccup is that it’s not too far to walk if you need face to face meetings and, in any case, it’s the 21st century and technology is capable making sure that everyone can do their jobs with no impediment.

I think the main problem with the “purchase” of the TVA East Tower is that the administration has looked at this as a “good deal” and has pursued it relentlessly without regard for how the deal will affect the running of Knox County government and the access of Knox County residents to their government. They’ve got it all wrong. I think the priority should be for Knox County elected officials to try to make government work well. Not make deals which are “too good to be true” (an actual quote from an exchange at the County Commission working session on January 21, 2020).

The final vote on this “purchase” is scheduled for the Commission’s meeting on January 27, 2020. There are legal issues and red flags galore in this “purchase.” If I were voting, I would vote no.

My Platform – Part 2: Big Money Is The Problem In Politics

If I have one idea that ties together the ideas in my campaign, it’s the fact of how politics is broken. And, I believe, big money is the largest single reason for that.

Look at the 2020 presidential race and you can see the problem larger than life. President Trump and the RNC will raise and spend 100s of millions of dollars on his reelection campaign. The eventual Democratic nominee may not match that amount, but they will come close. Or look at the race for Tennessee governor, where the candidates combined to raise and spend over $50 million on that race.

Local politics is not immune to this problem. Take, for example, the District 4 County Commission election in 2016, not coincidentally the seat for which I am running in 2020. According to the financial disclosure forms you can find at the Knox County Election Commission website, the winning candidate in that race raised about $78,000 and spent about $75,000. The winning candidate received 2594 votes in that election, besting his opponent by 689 votes. His opponent raised a little less than $25,000 and spent about $21,000.

I think it’s important to point out some details about where the money in the 2016 race for County Commission District 4 came from. It’s these facts, more than anything else, that convinced me to take a stand on big money in politics.

Of the winning candidate’s $78,000 raised, 60% came from big money and Political Action Committees (PACs). By big money, I mean $500 and $1000 checks. The winning candidate received 37 $500 checks and 26 checks of $1000 or more. It also appears that four PACs donated to the winning candidate’s campaign as well. On the other hand, the winning candidate’s opponent appears to have loaned herself over half of her less than $25,000 raised and didn’t take any $1000 checks. In local races, the maximum amount that may be donated is $1,600.

But, Mr. Candidate, why are you talking about the money raised by the candidates who ran in 2016? Neither of them is running this time. It’s a fair point. But, like I said, it was this information more than anything which has influenced how I want to run my race. If either of the Republicans in my race end up not pursuing big money and PAC donations, then that’s an unmitigated win for the voters of Knox County. But if they do go after those donations, you can be sure I will bring it up.

Aside from making a pledge only to accept small dollar donations during my campaign, what else does all this mean? It means I won’t be spending my time seeking out donations to fund my campaign. We’re not independently wealthy, but we’re comfortable. Paying for things out of our savings and whatever small dollar donations I might get will mean that I will be careful with my spending. I’ll spend money where I need to, but not any more than that. And you can expect, just as with my campaign funds, I will be equally careful with the taxpayers’ money.

This also means that my campaign is going to be focused on the needs of all of the citizens and not catering to the people who can give me big checks or the PACs who have an agenda behind their donations. I think that’s how politics should be. Maybe it’s never been that way in the history of the world, but this is what I believe. And I’m going to try and run my campaign according to my beliefs. I hope you agree and will consider voting for me.

A Day In The Life Of My Campaign – In Three Acts

Act 1 – The Interview

Last week, I received a call from the Governmental Affair Director of the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors (KAAR) inviting me to a candidate interview.  They said they were conducting interviews with all of the County Commission candidates with a competitive March 3rd race.  The interview would be just 15 minutes and would I be interested.  I was already aware that an entity called the Tennessee Realtor PAC had given substantial donations to almost all of the Republican candidates in County Commission races in 2016 and 2018.  I also knew that I would not be accepting PAC donations in any case.  But I figured it would be interesting to hear what they had to say and, if nothing else, it would be a good opportunity for me to practice my rhetoric in a formal setting.  So I accepted the interview and scheduled it for yesterday morning.

It was a formal setting, sure, but I was more in practice mode, so I decided to dress in my casual campaign attire. 

I got there early, as I like to do with all things in my life, and saw the interview before mine going on.  It was a long conference room table in a room with glass from floor to ceiling.  There were 12 people around the table and one interviewee.  Not intimidating at all, right?

Despite the intimidating setting, when my turn in the room came, I was not really nervous.  I borrowed my friend’s line that it was my Pinocchio moment.  I was a real candidate now.  The interview was scheduled for 15 minutes and we got done in a cool 12.  I answered the questions, which came only from the Director, as best I could.  The interview with the candidate before me went over the 15 minute time limit and I could see that he received questions from more than just the Director.  I learned later that candidate is the Republican incumbent from a neighboring Commission district to mine.  

I was up front with them that I wouldn’t be accepting PAC money and that I was going to go against those kind of donations in my campaign.  I also asked about how they called themselves a non-partisan PAC, but they had only given to Republicans in the past two Commission elections.  I’m sure I didn’t rattle anyone with my observation, but I’ll give myself points for being honest and up front about my campaign strategy in front of a crowd unlikely to be receptive to it.  They said they would be in touch, but I don’t expect to hear from them again.

Act 2 – The Drive

One of the campaign pledges I’ve made is that I’m going to drive all of the roads of the District.  I learned yesterday how difficult that’s going to be.  And it gave me a hint how tough my pledge to walk all the neighborhoods in the District is going to be.  

I had to take my mother-in-law to a doctor’s appointment after the interview and it was one of her appointments which usually take a long time.  Since I was already in the District, I decided to drive some of the roads and neighborhoods near her appointment.  Here are some of the roads I drove on:

CASEY DR

OLD WEISGARBER 

NIGHTINGALE 

LONAS 

RIDGEROCK 

RED SAILE 

KIRBURY LANE

JANMER LANE

ZOE WAY 

LAYTON LANE

TIMBERCREST NEIGHBORHOOD

HOLMAN ROAD

KIRBY ROAD
BRENTWAY CIR

CROSSROADS WEST APTS

It was about an hour of driving and stopping to take notes.  I think it’ll go faster if I have someone in the vehicle with me who can type while we drive.  Or vice versa.

Every day on the campaign learning something I can use the next day.

Act 3 – The Meeting

The capper to the evening was a 2 1/2 hour special meeting at the County Commission regarding discussion of the contract details related to the TVA East Tower and Summer Place Complex.  This is a controversial move by the county government to “buy” (by easement) a Tennessee Valley Authority building in order to move the Knox County Schools administrative offices out of an older building that the County would like to sell to some developers.  There’s a lot going on in this deal, too much for me to try and summarize here.  If you want to read more, check out these articles.  The District 2 (Courtney Durrett), District 4 (yours truly), and District 5 (Kimberly Peterson) Democrats were on hand to observe.  From all indications, the Commission is going to sign off on this deal, although there is at least one legal hurdle to overcome.  The vote will be next week and you can be sure that I’ll be there for the fireworks.

About Me And My Family

I was born and raised in Northern Kentucky, a suburb of Cincinnati. After high school, I tried college for a couple of years, but lacked focus and money to finish. So, I left Northern Kentucky to enlist in the Navy and see the world.

The Navy sent me to Monterey, California to study Russian for a couple of years and then also sent me to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo Texas for some additional training. My first assignment was in Sinop, Turkey. It was a small Army base right on the Black Sea that the U.S. shared with the Turks. My rating in the Navy was Cryptologic Technician, Interpretive (CTI). That basically meant I was a Russian linguist. My job there required a Top Secret clearance, so I won’t go into too much detail here about what I did. This 1981 article from the New York Times says that the mission at Sinop was “to conduct communications activities” and for “observation and control of the opposite bloc” with an emphasis on “technical and economic as well as military developments.” That sounds about right, considering Sinop is located right on the Black Sea, due south of the Crimean Peninsula. I was there for about a year – January 1989 to January 1990.

After some training back in the States in 1990, I was stationed at the Naval Base in Rota Spain. There I was due to start riding ships in the Mediterranean Sea, doing what Russian linguists might be expected to do in that part of the world. I don’t actually know from first hand experience what those linguists do, though, because my tour in Spain was cut short for another assignment.

After a trip to England for an interview, I was selected to go back to Monterey for an eight month course designed for Russian linguists destined to work at the On Site Inspection Agency (OSIA). That agency was responsible for the Department of Defense aspects of several arms control treaties, including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT), and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). OSIA was later rolled into the much larger Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). At OSIA, I was an interpreter on teams that conducted U.S. inspections in Russia and escorted Russian teams on inspections in the U.S. under the START, INF, and TTBT treaties.

While I was at OSIA, I spent about 5 weeks in Archangelsk, Russia and the surrounding area in conjunction with Operation Provide Hope, which was a humanitarian operation conducted by the Air Force where we provided tons (literally) of food and medical supplies to various locations in the former Soviet Union in order to assist their transition to capitalism.

While I was on active duty in the Navy, I worked to finish college in a non-traditional fashion, using the educational opportunities provided by the Navy. After I finished my enlistment in 1994, I used the GI Bill to go to law school back in Northern Kentucky and received my Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. I followed that with a year at the University of Houston Law Center where I was the International Law Institute Fellow and received my Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Economic Law. Interesting side note: after doing a search online, it appears that UH no longer has an International Law Institute. I feel pretty certain that my tenure there had nothing to do with that fact. But I make no promises. Interesting side note #2: you can still find my thesis online, since I was fortunate enough to have it published in the Loyola Law School International and Comparative Law Review in 1999. The topic is quite obsolete, since it was about power sharing treaties in Russia immediately after the break up of the former Soviet Union. But, if you’re into that stuff, it’s a pretty interesting piece of history. Ask me about it some time.

After Houston, I worked for a year as an attorney in the federal government in Jacksonville, Florida at the Office of Hearings and Appeals for the Social Security Administration. After that, I was selected to become a member of the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). I served 12 years in the Air Force (after 8 years in the Navy), so I retired as a Major and retired from the military at the 20 year point.

As an Air Force JAG, I was stationed at Whiteman AFB, Missori; Tyndall AFB, Florida; Vandenberg AFB, California; Yokota AB, Japan; Bolling AFB, Washington, DC; and Andrews AFB, Maryland. In 2007, I deployed to al Udeid AB, Qatar, where I was a Judge Advocate at the Combined Air Operations Center. At al Udeid, it was my job to review deliberate and time sensitive targets in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility and to review Rules of Engagement (ROE) in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2010, I deployed to Baghdad and worked as a Senior Trial Counsel, including work in support of the mission at Camp Cropper.

After I retired from the military in 2012, I went to work for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, DC. I worked in the Consumer Response division as an Investigator and Team Lead helping consumers with their complaints against mortgage servicing companies, credit card companies, credit bureaus and debt collectors.

I left Washington, DC in 2015 and moved to Knoxville, Tennessee to be with the love of my life – Susan Beth Frommeyer, nee Harrison. We originally met in college way back in 1986, right before I left for the Navy. We had our near misses in the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, but I finally did what I should have done almost 30 years earlier and I asked her to marry me. She said yes and now we have a life together in Knoxville.

We’re a true blended family, in that we both have kids from previous marriages. My son, Zach, is a Freshman at the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville. He’s studying Sports Management. My step-daughter, Bethany, is in 5th grade at Blue Grass Elementary. She will attend West Valley Middle School next year and, eventually, Bearden High School.

Susan earned her medical degree at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1997. After that she completed her obstetrics and gynecology residency at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine in Knoxville. Susan is an Air Force veteran and has lived in East Tennessee since 2003. She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a practicing partner at Fort Sanders Women’s Specialists.

My Platform – Walking District 4

This is one of a series of posts I’m writing on my website to outline what I’m calling My Platform. It’s all done with the goal of explaining to voters who I am, why I’m running and how I will approach the job of County Commissioner if I am elected.

I figure as a Knox County Commissioner, at some level I need to be looking out for the best interests of the whole county. Having seen some of the Commission work online and in person, I can tell that Commissioners are called upon to decide upon issues that affect the entire county, not just their individual districts.

Still. If I’m looking to be elected by the voters of District 4, I need to make sure that I know the absolute most I can about the District and its residents. To that end, I’ve decided that, by election day, August 6, 2020, I will drive, bicycle, and walk as many of the neighborhoods of District 4 as possible. Here’s my plan:

  • I plan to drive all of the streets and roads of District 4 by the time of the primary election, March 3, 2020. Very likely, I’ll be able to pull this off by the end of the month.
  • I plan to walk all of the neighborhoods in the district. I’m going to build in an exception for gated neighborhoods, unless I’m accompanied by a resident of the neighborhood. I’m also not going to commit necessarily to walk any of the main thoroughfares if they don’t have sidewalks, just for my own safety. This one is going to take me until the general election, August 6, 2020. Some of this will be typical door-knocking. I will also try just to walk some neighborhoods as well, to see how walkable they are. You might see me out and about with my Lab, Indi. Don’t worry, she’s super friendly. And, yes, we named the dog, Indianna.
  • I plan to bicycle as many of the neighborhoods and greenways in the district as possible. I’m not going to commit to cover the entire district, but rather I’m going to focus on how bikeable the district is.

Money in campaigns is an issue I’m running on, so I’m trying to do what I can campaign-wise on my own. There’s a publicly available site – KGIS Maps – which has various maps of Knox County, including the lines for the County Commission Districts. But, the map there isn’t as detailed or user friendly as you might like it to be. I use Google Maps pretty frequently and figured out yesterday how to make my own map with the outline of District 4, using the KGIS map as a guide. I think it worked out pretty well. Here’s the link, which I also shared on my campaign Facebook page. I think this is going to go a long way to help me meet those campaign promises.

Political Action Committee (PAC) Money

I’ve been doing research in getting ready for the big campaign kickoff after the first of the year. One of the interesting things I’ve been looking at is how much in donations the candidates for the various campaigns have received and where those donations come from.

I’ll be talking about my stance on donations and campaign spending soon. But, it’s been shocking to me how much money can be and has been spent on political campaigns for the 11 seats on the Knox County Commission. I should note that I’m getting this information from public sources. You can go to the Knox County Election Commission website and find all of the financial disclosure forms here. You can also find previous election voting results here. So, when I talk about these numbers here, feel free to go and double check that I’ve got the right information.

In the elections in 2016 and 2018, the sitting Commissioners, in their winning campaigns, raised anywhere from about $2,000 to about $140,000. Of the 10 races I looked at (for some reason there were no disclosure forms available on the Election Commission website for the Commissioner from District 8), eight of the winning Commissioners raised $10,000 or more. Five of them raised $30,000 or more. A couple of the Commissioners run county-wide, so you might understand the need for more money in their campaigns. But, it’s harder to understand why you need $29,000 for a race where you win with about 1300 votes. Or, as in District 4 where I’m running, why you need $75,000 for a race where you win with just about 2600 votes. As I said, that particular fact is going to be a big part of what I focus on in my campaign, so I’m going to leave it there for now.

Even with all that money being raised, I was surprised to see how active Political Action Committees (PACs) are in Knox County. In going through the relevant disclosure forms, I found the following PACs had given fairly large sums to the campaigns of many of the Commissioners. These include:

  • Tennessee Realtors PAC
  • Building Industry PAC
  • Fraternal Order of Police PAC
  • Rural Metro Employees PAC
  • Sevier County Good Government PAC
  • Tennesseeans For Bicycling PAC
  • Knox County Education Association PAC
  • Making A Reasonable Stand PAC

I noted that the Tennessee Realtors PAC and the Building Industry PAC gave donations to multiple campaigns. Many of these donations were about $500. When you’re giving to seven or eight Commissioners at $500 a pop, you’re starting to get into real money coming from one source. And the fact that there are at least eight different PACs giving money to Knox County Commission political campaigns is a sign, to me at least, of something wrong with the system. It’s a genuinely good thing that campaigns have to disclose the contributions they receive. We also have to disclose how the money is spent. These mandatory disclosures let us all evaluate how much money is coming into our campaigns and from where that money is coming. But with PACs, it’s all just a little less clear where that money is coming from.

To be clear, PACs are legal political entities. The campaigns are allowed to take their money, as long as they keep within donation limits and do the proper disclosures. This is the system we are all working within. But, for my money, pun intended, the system stinks. PACs undermine the idea of transparency in politics and government that the mandatory financial disclosures are there to establish and support. So, even though I would be permitted to accept PAC money, I’m establishing at the outset of my campaign that I will not do so. Heck, maybe those PACs wouldn’t have considered giving to my campaign in the first place. That might be. But I’m announcing this now so that I can be held publicly accountable for this pledge. Because I think that’s what candidates should do.

Civics Lesson – 12/20/19

One of the reasons I’m doing this is to learn more about the process. Maybe I can also keep my kids and other people informed about what it takes to get involved and run for office. So, as I come across some of the steps and requirements involved in running, like with my Getting On The Ballot posts, I’m gonna write about them here.

This week, I got a letter in the mail from the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance; Tennessee Ethics Commission. The campaign finance part of this is important because of the way I’m planning on financing my campaign. I’m very concerned with the amount of money that is spent in campaigns, how that money is raised, and how it’s spent. I’ll do a full post on how I’m going to handle that at some point soon, but for now, I was interested to get the letter and see what candidates have to disclose.

I opted for the online filing option and I’m glad they have that. I’d prefer to do most things on a computer if I can. I was directed to the appropriate website where I was prompted to sign up (since I’m filing for the first time) and file my statement. The form was straight forward. It asked for my address, e-mail, and phone number. The office I’m running for was pre-filled (except for which District). Then, I had to supply my sources of income, my investments, whether I’m involved in lobbying, whether I provide professional services (like being an attorney), whether I receive retainer fees, and whether I’ve filed for bankruptcy in the last 5 years. I also had to include any loans taken this year. I had to certify the information was correct and have a witness attest that I entered the information.

If you’re curious to see my filing, or any other candidate’s filing, you can go to this website to check it out. The deadline to file for 2019 is January 13, 2020. I searched for my form after I hit SUBMIT, but it didn’t show it. Maybe it’ll take a little while for it to show up in the system. In any case, keep trying if you want to check up on me. I’m sure I’ll show up on there at some point.

It’s About A Choice For Voters In The 2020 Election

I was listening to a podcast that I like a lot today. It’s called In The Dark and it’s by American Public Media. Season two is about Curtis Flowers, a man in a small town in Mississippi who was tried six times for the same crime. He won appeals, had mistrials and the same prosecutor – Doug Evans – had tried every case. In Season two of the podcast, the journalists dug deeply into the six trials. They talked to witnesses and did a lot of research on the case. The case eventually went to the Supreme Court, where a 7-2 vote overturned his latest conviction and death sentence. In today’s episode, we learned that Mr. Flowers was granted bail pending the State’s decision to try him a seventh time. He had spent 23 years in jail prior to being granted bail. It’s a nice bit of good news in an otherwise terrible story of criminal injustice.

Normally, I would write about these sorts of things on my personal blog – maddogesquire.com. But I was interested when they talked about the fact that District Attorney Doug Evans didn’t attend the bail hearing of Curtis Flowers. They found out that Evans was at a swearing in ceremony for men and women who were recently elected to office. They said that Evans won after running unopposed. You can read a little more about that here.

I know nothing else about how Doug Evans has performed as District Attorney in Winona, Mississippi other than what I have learned from this podcast. But what I know about him from the Curtis Flowers case is quite enough. I’m in this race because I think voters deserve a choice, not another election where one party or the other runs unopposed in the general election. Whichever Republican wins the primary in March, they now know they will have an opponent who will push them and fight for all of the voters of District 4 all the way up to August 6. It’s a shame that a District Attorney like Doug Evans can get away with what he has done in the Curtis Flowers case (listen to the podcast – you’ll see) and yet still not get an opponent in the election. Hearing that today made me that much more satisfied and excited to be in this race.