Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hypocritical Yes, But Is It Legal?

Well we knew this was coming:
High-dollar GOP fundraiser to be held at facility that top Republicans sought to scuttle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Republicans are holding a high-dollar fundraiser at the new underground entertainment hall at the governor's mansion that prominent members of the GOP unsuccessfully tried to scuttle.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Tuesday that it will cost between $3,000 and $25,000 per couple to attend the March 31 event hosted by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

The Conservation Hall entertainment facility was built during former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration, and was derided by mostly Republican critics as the "Bredesen Bunker."

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville voted against construction of the hall in 2008, and fellow Republican Rep. Beth Harwell of Nashville unsuccessfully sought to cancel bonds for the project the same year.

Harwell was elected House speaker this year.

Of course the TNGOP will argue "since we couldn't stop it from being built we might as well use it." But as some folks on The Twittaz have noted, is this even legal? Since the Governor's Mansion is public property, can they hold a partisan event like a high-dollar Republican Party fundraiser there?

I'm thinking ... no. Someone please check into this for me, 'mm'kay? Of course, it won't be the first time the TNGOP made money off of Bredesen's bunker.

MORE ... from the memory hole:

Conservation Hall, referred to widely as "Bredesen's Bunker" for its underground design and hidden entrances, has already been criticized as a possible place for governors to shake down donors. It appears that Gov. Bredesen may have gotten a head start by using the bunker to engage in potential quid pro quo before ground was ever broken.

Yes, that was the right-wing Tennessee Center For Policy Research. Isn't it ironic? IOKIYAR.


A few folks have weighed in and said it's legal, though no one is sure how. And it appears I'm not the only one put off by this:

State law bans fundraising by legislators while the General Assembly is in session. It was passed years ago to address public perceptions that lawmakers were “shaking down” special interests with business directly before them.

But according to state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Executive Director Drew Rawlins, there is a difference between individuals’ campaigns and the state party.

“The party can raise money for the party as long as it’s not going to candidates, to support or oppose candidates,” he said. “They can raise it for getting out the vote ... and for just normal party activities.”

Former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, said, “I would still think in the spirit of the law that they shouldn’t be doing this during the session — at our residence, being the Tennessee residence.”

And since the Lee Beaman-funded Tennesseans For Accountability in Government doesn't appear to be in existence any longer, who's to complain? Hell, they're probably on the guest list.

I'm sure all of that money will go toward paying for the TNGOP's toner cartridges and phone bills. Riiight. Aren't these the folks who told us that Planned Parenthood had to be defunded because every dollar spent on cancer screening and STD testing is a dollar they can spend on abortion? Wasn't that the argument?

Oh well, nothing to see here. It's always okay when Republicans do it.