Why did Joe Carr's campaign loan a millionaire's company $200K?

Over at the Scene, there's an explanation for that $9,500 receipt in Carr's last filing: It was interest.

A company owned by right-wing millionaire Andy Miller received a $200,000 loan from Joe Carr's Senate campaign. The company, Life Watch Pharmacy, in turn paid the campaign $9,564.54 in interest on the loan.

Since Miller has already reached the maximum for how much he can give personally, the question is whether this amounts to and end-run around campaign finance limits. Loans from campaigns to corporations are "rare," an election law specialist told the Scene.


There are no prohibitions against campaigns making loans to companies, but according to federal campaign finance regulations, the interest paid by a single-member LLC like Life Watch may be attributed to that member as a contribution.

The LLC is also required to provide documentation that it is eligible to make the contribution. There is none in either the amended filing or in a response from the campaign to the FEC.
Jul 15, 2014 4:13 PM

Alexander poll says senior senator leads Carr 4-to-1

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander might have attracted more than half-a-dozen contenders in his bid for reelection, but his recent polling suggests that hasn’t put a dent in his chances for the August GOP primary.

A survey of 600 likely Republican primary voters in Tennessee found 56 percent of voters favor Alexander, compared to 14 percent for his leading contender, state Rep. Joe Carr, according to a memo obtained by the Nashville Post. Other candidates garnered 2 percent or less of the vote, according to the memo by North Star Opinion Research President Whit Ayres. Another 22 percent are undecided.

“The campaign looks essentially the same today as it did in August of 2013 and February of this year,” wrote Ayres in a memo to Alexander’s campaign finance chairman Steve Smith.

The firm’s last survey in February showed Alexander leading Carr 62 percent to 17 percent, with 18 percent undecided and 2 percent for Brenda Lenard and 1 percent for Danny Page. Since then, the contest has attracted seven total GOP challengers who were all factored into the recent polling. The firm conducted the survey May 12 through 14 and all respondents said they were likely or certain to vote in the Republican primary election.

Carr’s campaign suggested the release of the numbers shows the Alexander campaign is nervous.

“After seeing what happened this week in Nebraska, it’s not surprising that Senator Alexander and his campaign are very worried about the threat that Joe Carr and Tennessee conservatives pose to his re-election,” said Donald Rickard, a spokesman for Carr’s campaign, pointing to a conservative Republican taking the nomination for U.S. Senate and another falling short by 6 percentage points for Congress. “Why else would he release numbers this early? As this campaign unfolds and Joe invests in informing Tennessee voters about Sen. Alexander’s support for Common Core, the bail-out of Wall Street and amnesty — the environment surrounding this race will shift significantly."

Below is an excerpt from the North Star Opinion Research memo:

1. Senator Alexander holds at least a 4-to-1 lead over any Republican primary opponent. Alexander stands at 56 percent in a full ballot test, compared to 14 percent for Joe Carr, no more than 2 percent each for the six other opponents, and 22 percent undecided.

2. Senator Alexander’s opponents remain unknown to the overwhelming majority of Republican primary voters. Sixty-seven percent of primary voters have never heard of Joe Carr, almost identical to the 70 percent who had never heard of him in February. Eighty-four percent have never heard of Fred Anderson, 85 percent have never heard of George Shea Flinn, 91 percent have never heard of John D. King, 92 percent have never heard of Christian Agnew, 93 percent have never heard of Brenda S. Lenard, and 95 percent have never heard of Erin Kent Magee.

3. Senator Alexander continues to hold high job approval ratings across the state and among key subgroups of the primary electorate. Statewide Alexander’s job approval is 66 to 28 percent, including 70 to 22 percent in East Tennessee, 61 to 36 percent in Middle Tennessee, and 64 to 26 percent in West Tennessee. Strong Republicans approve of his job performance by 72 to 22 percent, as do evangelical Christians by 65 to 27 percent, and very conservative voters by 62 to 33 percent.

May 15, 2014 2:44 PM

House Republicans fume over Gov's budget cuts

House Republicans steamed the governor outlined his budget cuts to the media before briefing legislators sounded off in a GOP Caucus meeting Monday night, weighing their options to avoid cutting raises for state workers and teachers and raiding funds in the governor's signature community college proposal to offset higher ed cuts.

Five things to know about the governor's budget cuts here.

Rep. Joe Carr, of Lascassas, wondered aloud whether lawmakers can take money the governor wants to use to fund the Tennessee Promise free community college plan toward offsetting reductions in higher education. And Rep. Matthew Hill, of Jonesborough complained that promising teachers and state employees raises then not delivering will make it difficult for lawmakers with primary election challengers to vote for the budget.

"Any time you make tentative promises about pay raises and they don't come through, of course everyone's frustrated. I'm sure the governor's frustrated, too,"  Rep. Glen Casada, GOP Caucus Chairman later told reporters.

Finance Chairman Charles Sargent, who knew details of cuts the administration plans to unveil today, threw cold water on suggestions from the 71-member caucus' meeting to thwart the governor's community college plan. Sacrificing pay raises represents one of the largest cuts the state can use to bridge the budget gap, he said, and funding for the governor's Tennessee Promise plan can only be used in limited ways.

"We're not funding any museums this year or anything like that," said Sargent who said none of the special funding requests lawmakers have asked for will make it into the budget. Lawmakers typically build at least some local projects into the budget, like two years ago when Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey wanted to help fund the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

It's up to the legislature to decide how to spend the state's money, Casada told reporters. "I think you're going to see a lot of members looking at the budget a little bit closer, trying to come up with ways to maybe fund some of these pay raises. Because it's important to us that we give something to state employees and teachers, they are the folks that make the state run."

Apr 1, 2014 8:30 AM

Statewide Alexander campaign ad hits TVs Monday

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign is running a 60-second TV ad through the end of the month focusing largely on local testimonials.

The ad's commentary from business leaders, choir members, his sons, a school principal, a singer/songwriter and a fisherman were recorded last spring, according to Tom Ingram, Alexander’s campaign advisor, months before state Rep. Joe Carr entered the primary race.

Ingram refused to detail how much the campaign is paying for the long-planned statewide ad buy, citing “competitive reasons.”

Ingram said to expect several more rounds of ads during the course of the campaign “and whatever else it takes to ensure a strong, solid victory.” This ad follows one released in July about fishing that included Kentucky's U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and another in August about his opposition to so-called Obamacare shortly after Carr announced a bid to challenge Alexander.

Carr reported raising $250,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013. Ingram said he was unsure how much the senior senator has raised but said the campaign is “very happy with our numbers so far, and not too much concerned with anybody else’s, to tell you the truth.” In the third quarter, Alexander's campaign raised nearly $838,000 and had $2.8 million on hand.

Jan 9, 2014 3:57 PM

Carr’s open House seat attracts another GOP candidate

Lascassas businessman-turned-cattleman Rick Peppers is the latest Republican to announce a bid for outgoing Rep. Joe Carr’s state House seat.

Peppers, of Five Peppers Farm in Murfreesboro, identified himself as “pro-life, pro-second amendment, anti-income tax, a supporter of property rights and state sovereignty,” according to a press release announcing his candidacy Tuesday, added he wants to continue “limiting government” in Carr’s stead. 

Peppers’ announcement makes three declared candidates in what appears to be an open seat representing the eastern half of Rutherford County. Other candidates include Rutherford County Commissioner Adam Coggin and Murfreesboro physician Bryan Terry.





Oct 29, 2013 4:48 PM

Megan Barry, Jeff Yarbro, Lamar Alexander winners in 'Post' straw poll

Metro councilwoman at-large Megan Barry was the overwhelming winner of the straw poll at Monday's Lawmakers & Groundbreakers event hosted by the Nashville Post.

A packed house of about 150 at Cabana — check out the slideshow here — gathered to honor former councilwoman Betty Nixon and education power couple Randy Dowell and Shani Jackson Dowell. Attendees also participated in the Post's straw poll of three high-profile races: Nashville mayor, state senate district 21 and U.S. Senate.

The state and U.S. Senate races included declared candidates while the mayor's race included a range of declared, interested and possible candidates. Here are the results (by percentage of vote):

Nashville Mayor

Megan Barry71
David Fox7
Diane Neighbors5
Greg Hinote4
Stuart Brunson3
Bill Freeman3
Stuart McWhorter2
Jerry Maynard2
Jeremy Kane2
Ronnie Steine1


State Senate District 21

Jeff Yarbro54
Mary Mancini29
Jason Holleman17


U.S. Senate

Lamar Alexander78
Joe Carr22


Oct 29, 2013 12:51 PM

Alexander calls for Sebelius' resignation

Tennessee’s senior senator is demanding the president fire his chief secretary overseeing Obamacare to hold her accountable for the exchanges’ rollout this month.

The demand from the Senate floor this morning comes less than 24 hours after Tea Party rival Joe Carr shot out a press release calling for her resignation first, suggesting “Alexander’s refusal to call for her ouster is further proof he is well to the left of the conservative mainstream.”

Alexander, a ranking member of a key committee overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, filed legislation yesterday requiring the Obama administration develop weekly reports on usage of the 36 federally-run insurance exchanges -- including Tennessee's -- after requests for that data went unanswered.

Alexander’s remarks as prepared:

The President should ask the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to resign her position because of the disastrous rollout of Obamacare.

Taxpayers have spent $400 million to create exchanges that, after three and one half years, still don’t work.

As a result, the WH had to announce last night that the key enforcement mechanism to their individual mandate, a 95 dollar fine, will be waived until the end of March 2014.

That's fine for those currently without insurance, but for the millions being forced into the exchanges and losing their current insurance plans, there's no relief, just higher prices, a likely lapse in insurance coverage, a broken website and broken promises.

We already know of 1.5 million Americans who are losing their policies because, on January 1, many insurance policies that they now have will not be legal under Obamacare and because the exchange will not be working they will not be able to choose another policy.

At some point there has to be accountability.

Expecting this secretary to be able to fix what she has not been able to fix during the last three and one half years is unrealistic.

It is throwing good money after bad. 

It is time for her to resign and for someone else to take charge.

No private sector Chief Executive Officer would escape accountability after such a poor performance.

And the principle of accountability is not foreign to the public sector.

Admiral Hyman Rickover, father of the nuclear navy, told his submarine captains that they were not only accountable for their ships, but they were also accountable for the nuclear reactor on their ships.  If anything went wrong with the reactor, their career in the Navy was over, the Admiral said.

As a result of that dose of accountability, since the 1950’s there never has been a death as a result of a problem with a naval submarine reactor.

Americans deserve that kind of accountability in the implementation of the new health care law.

Instead the Secretary appears not even to have told the President about known problems with the Obamacare website in the months and days leading up to the launch.

Despite repeated requests, she has refused to tell Congress or the public the reasons the Obamacare website continues to fail while insisting on more time and an undisclosed amount of money to fix it.

Before the Internet, RCA knew how many records Elvis was selling every day, Ford knew how many cars they were selling every day, and McDonalds could tell you how many Hamburgers it had sold each day.

Yet, under Secretary Sebelius’s leadership, the Obama administration will not tell us how many Americans have tried to sign up for Obamacare.

Or how many have actually signed up for insurance

Or what level of insurance they bought

Or in what zip code they live.

Not only can they not tell us, they have done their best to keep us from finding out.

With Wikileaks and Edward Snowden spilling our beans every day, what’s happening on the Obamacare exchanges  is the only secret left in Washington.

The National Security Agency could learn some lessons from Secretary Sebelius.

Today I will ask unanimous consent to approve a six-page bill I introduced yesterday to require the administration to answer these questions every week.

Secretary Sebelius is not responsible for enacting Obamacare.

But she has been responsible for three and one half years for implementing it.

Now many Americans have only a few weeks to purchase new insurance or be without health insurance.

To expect Secretary Sebelius to correct in a few weeks what she has not been able to do during three and one half years is unrealistic.

It is time for the President to ask the Secretary of Health and Human Services to resign.

Oct 29, 2013 9:35 AM

Was Alexander's last-minute dam deal an earmark? No

Joe Carr and others have called language to authorize spending on a Corps of Engineers project inserted into the budget deal by Lamar Alexander a "Kentucky Kickback." Is it? Nope.

Instead, the shutdown bill passed by Congress established a new $2.9 billion maximum spending limit for the project, up from the previous spending cap of $1.7 billion, said Mike Braden, chief of the Olmsted Division in the corps’ Louisville office.

“It is not an appropriation,” he said, adding that Congress still will have to take additional votes to spend the money as the project proceeds.

Had Congress not raised the spending limit, he said, the Corps would have had to stop work on the dam in January, putting several hundred people out of work and likely adding at least $80 million to the project’s cost.

Oct 18, 2013 8:27 AM

Joe Carr reveals weak fundraising in Senate campaign

Joe Carr's Tea Party-fueled challenge to Lamar Alexander doesn't seem to be going so well:

Ralph Bristol: Lamar says he raised $900,000 in the third quarter. Can you tell us how you did?

Joe Carr: "We didn’t—obviously, we were focused on getting the Coalition for a Constitutional Senate—we were focused on that endorsement. We were focused on getting the endorsement of BEAT Lamar in the month of September. We were making the transition in August, and July is the worst fundraising month of the year. We certainly didn’t do as well as that. I don’t have an exact figure, but it was a little bit less than $100,000, I believe, total for this quarter..."

Oct 16, 2013 11:57 AM

Carr: All we hear from Lamar is crickets

Via Tennessee Ticket:

“All we hear from Sen. Lamar Alexander is crickets…again. When issues back home arise, Sen. Alexander refuses to step in and fight to get results. This affects families and their livelihood and is happening in Senator Alexander’s backyard, in his home town, yet we haven’t even heard a peep out of him,” says Representative Joe Carr.

Oct 11, 2013 8:53 AM