Tu quoque, Lt. Gov?
Presumably, he was maintaining a controlled climate while awaiting the return of the Senate Speaker/Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and his ride-along guest, state Sen. Frank Niceley, whom Ramsey had picked up in Strawberry Plains, making for a 260-mile round trip from Ramsey’s home in Bluff City (in Sullivan County) to Maynardville.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security provides security to both the Senate and the House speakers. Ramsey’s driver, Bill Taliaferro, is paid $38.71 per hour, while House Speaker Beth Harwell’s driver makes $26.65 an hour. Both drivers are eligible for overtime and retirement benefits.
The most common justification for such practices involves pointing out that it’s nothing new. But Republicans used to rail against Democrats’ profligate spending when they were running the show in Nashville, so more than a touch of irony sets in at the sight of members of the tough-talking, budget-slashing new majority happily settled into the practices that they once deplored.
And the sight of state employees driving state vehicles to tote politicians like Mr. Speaker around the state to purely partisan events is almost as disconcerting as realizing that they don’t give a damn what we think.