Politics is a fickle business. The last thing a campaign wants to do is drive away potential allies by exposing skeletons in its candidate's closet or reminding people of old ghosts thought to have been exorcised.
Wilson County Republican A.J. McCall is one such candidate working to fight off demons of campaigns past. McCall, who is running for the State Senate seat being vacated next year by GOP State Sen. Mae Beavers, is having a fundraiser tonight at the home of Mt. Juliet developer Bill Robinson. Co-hosts of the event are major Republicans like Ted Welch, Scooter Clippard and Van Hilleary.
The combination of those organizers and the event's location has many Middle Tennessee Republicans talking.
Here's why: In 2008, a banner year for Tennessee Republicans, McCall was the exception. He lost a targeted race for the Tennessee House of Representatives against Democratic Rep. Stratton Bone after Democrats circulated police reports for two drunken driving arrests in the 1990s. One of those said McCall was pulled over in a Wal-Mart parking lot late one night after an officer was flagged down by a woman who said he had tried to make her get in his van.
Not something that helps you in an election.
But if McCall's campaign wants people to forget about the Wal-Mart incident, the choice of having Robinson host one of his first fundraisers has people scratching their heads.
What has generated the buzz is that, from 1986 until 1993, Robinson and his developer friend Dewey "Lawdog" Lineberry were Wilson County's most industrious filmmakers – so industrious in fact that Robinson made a Supreme Court case out of it.
In 1986, Robinson, a contractor by trade, agreed to build a three-story office building for Lineberry in Mt. Juliet. On its third floor, Robinson constructed, at Lineberry’s direction, a “camera room” equipped with two-way mirrors through which a person could look into a weight room and bathroom located next to Lineberry’s office.
Lineberry told Robinson that he intended to use the camera room to secretly videotape his sexual encounters because he was concerned that he might be falsely accused of rape in the future. Robinson was aware of Lineberry’s concern and actively participated in the construction of the camera room.
After the building was constructed, Robinson, from the concealed camera room, secretly videotaped over the course of seven years numerous instances of Lineberry having intercourse with women. Word eventually got out and Lineberry settled out of court with the women whom he had "encountered."
For his part, Robinson sued Nashville attorney James R. Omer Sr. and accused him – even though he wasn't his attorney – of giving him bad legal advice in a case that eventually made its way to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
All in all, it makes the choice for tonight's fundraiser a puzzling one. Oh, and we do have one little piece of advice for those Republicans going tonight: Look at the DVDs in the bookshelf, but don't touch.