Governor discusses priorities while all wait to see how much federal assistance will come
Feb 9, 2009 10:00 PM
David Oatney on Brian Kelsey's Textortiongate:
When the right people do it, it is normal procedure. Brian Kelsey isn't allowed in on the bargaining, as he is a conservative. Now House Democratic Leader Gary Odom is calling on Kelsey to resign. Really? Is this the same Odom that made his way up to Carter County on Tanksgiving to bargain with Kent Williams about being Speaker of the House? I wonder if it is the selfsame Gary Odom who has served as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Optometric Association, which employs lobbyists on the Hill (what conflict of interest)? Since Gary Odom is now so big on purity of ethics, because of these backroom dealings and conflicts of interest, I call on Gary Odom to resign. Oh, I forgot, Odom's standards do not apply to himself or other Democrats, only to conservative Republicans, hence Odom will go nowhere-but we should all demand that Brian Kelsey should resign for asking for a Chairmanship...
Jan 30, 2009 12:43 PM
Revelations that the Germantown legislator sent a text message to the new House speaker offer to resolve differences in exchange for a committee chairmanship has led to calls for resignation:
Kelsey did not return calls for questions about the new allegation and Odom's suggestion that it amounts to extortion, and his call to resign. In his statement, Kelsey said he filed the ethics complaint knowing that he would not win a chairmanship but before he knew Williams appointed him chairman of the civil practice subcommittee. The text message was sent to Williams' office while he and Republican and Democratic leaders met to appoint committees and their highly sought chairmanships. Williams would only say that he read the text out loud and then told his staff "to handle it however they thought it was appropriate." Odom said he believes Kelsey committed an ethics violation. "He demanded a full committee chairmanship -- indicated that if that took place, it would resolve his differences with the speaker," Odom said. "When that didn't happen, he filed a sexual harassment complaint about an incident in which he wasn't involved nor was a witness to."MORE: Jeff Woods Theo Emery
Jan 30, 2009 8:01 AM
In a statement, Rep. Brian Kelsey concedes he sent the text message that Democrats have interpreted as an offer to drop his fierce opposition and criticism of the speaker in exchange for a committee chairmanship. But, ya know, it's not what it looks like:
“The first day Representative Williams was elected speaker, we had a public disagreement on the House floor in which he asked me whether I had a problem with his being speaker. I answered in the affirmative. After reflecting upon the occurrence over the weekend, I decided to make a peace offering. I realized that, my personal feelings aside, we would both have to work together over the next two years for the good of the people of Tennessee. I sent his assistant a text message saying, “Tell Kent I’m willing to talk about reconciliation if he’s willing to talk about chairman of the full committee.” I sent the message at 9:50 a.m. on January 20th to offer reconciliation and to request my preference regarding committee assignments—the discussions for which were just beginning among the leaders. I had never turned in a committee preference form to Representative Naifeh or Representative Williams, as had other members, because I did not expect either of them to be elected Speaker. Committee assignment discussions began the morning of the 20th and lasted throughout the day of the 20th and 21st. “The afternoon of January 20th I read the new Speaker’s public statement in which he, in essence, called Rep. Lynn and others liars by denying that he had ever told her he would give a week’s pay to see her naked and by denying he was ever reprimanded by Leader Mumpower for doing so. When I read the statement, I was outraged that he would intentionally make such a false statement to the public, and I began to draft an ethics complaint that evening, which I filed early the next afternoon on January 21st. “I filed the ethics complaint knowing full well that I was virtually ensuring that I would not be named chairman of a full committee and thinking that I would probably lose Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a position that Speaker Williams had offered me the previous week. Nonetheless, I still thought it was the right thing to do to file the complaint. I, along with all other members, did not receive word of my committee assignments until the evening of the 21st after I had already filed the ethics complaint against the Speaker. At least one change was made to those preliminary assignments, and the official appointments were made the 22nd.”SEE ALSO: The Woodsman
Jan 29, 2009 5:33 PM
The AP reports that Rep. Brian Kelsey tried to barter for a committee chairmanship:
Reps. Mike Turner and Gary Odom say Kelsey made the offer in a text message sent to a Williams aide the same day that a 2-year-old allegation of sexual harassment against the speaker came to light. One day later Kelsey filed an ethics complaint seeking to have Williams removed as speaker. According to Turner, the Jan. 20 message said: “I will talk about reconciliation if you make me a full committee chair.” Kelsey denied to AP that he had sent any text message.
Jan 29, 2009 3:54 PM
After rejecting to hear charges made by State Representative, member says their ruling was a 'mockery of ethics'
Jan 28, 2009 11:26 AM
The Murfreesboro legislator contends the famous recess before the nomination for House Speaker was necessary to keep potential "Mumpower Democrats" on the reservation:
My first understanding that that was a possibility took place in the caucus meeting, which was scheduled for 11 o'clock on Tuesday morning and we go into session at noon. At that time, we were informed that the existing speaker (Rep. Jimmy Naifeh) could not get the votes necessary to elect a speaker, and somebody submitted the proposal that Kent Williams would vote for himself if he were going to get elected as speaker, and the only way he could get elected as speaker, in our mind, was for all the Democrats to vote for him. But at the time we first left our caucus meeting to go on to the floor, it was my impression that Kent Williams did not have the necessary votes to get elected speaker. Not until we recessed after the House members were sworn into office that we took a recess and received the commitments from some Democrats that might have in the past pledged their support to Jason Mumpower.
Jan 25, 2009 9:24 PM
While state house committee assignments, having gone through two days of negotiations, have not been announced, Post Politics has obtained a tentative list of committee assignments currently making its way through the legislature. Again, this is by no means a final or official list. UPDATE: Jama appears to have procured a similar list.
Jan 21, 2009 6:25 PM
Gary Odom asserts that it was not a naked pursuit of power but a feeling of kinship with legislative employees who might be fired under a Speaker Mumpower which led Kent Williams to accept the deal that made him speaker:
Odom was also aware of another factor in Williams’ psyche that might cause him to risk his party’s rancor. Williams had told Odom that when he was 23 and newly married and starting a family he had found a good job with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. As a Republican, Williams was marked by then Gov. Ray Blanton for removal, not because of job performance but for political reasons. “I knew as a result of that experience that he had a sick feeling in his stomach for all the career people, researchers and legal professionals, who would be losing their jobs when Jason Mumpower took over as speaker. Some of those people had been in those jobs for over 20 or 30 years. “I think some of that played into his thinking,” Odom said.(TFJ: Woodsie)
Jan 16, 2009 10:15 AM