Government Affairs Update

Follow the TBA's efforts to influence federal and state policy as it fulfills one of the core missions of the association – advocacy for the profession and for our system of justice.

John Ford Released from Prison

Former Tennessee State Senator John Ford, 70, was released from a federal prison in Mississippi today. Ford, who has been behind bars since 2007, is now at a half-way house in Memphis, NewsChannel 3 reports. He was convicted for his role in undercover investigation called Operation Tennessee Waltz. He was serving 19-and-a-half years following separate corruption convictions in Memphis and Nashville, but an appeals court threw out the Nashville conviction, which shaved several years off his sentence.

read more »

GOP Reconsiders Closed Primaries

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports today that several state Republican leaders – upset over reports that Democrats voted in their party primary earlier this month – are reviving a previously shelved effort to require party registration and closed primaries for future elections. State Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, and Mark Winslow, a member of the Republican State Executive Committee, confirmed that they met Tuesday with House Speaker Beth Harwell to advocate the idea. Harwell, a former state party chairwoman who has opposed closed primaries, said she is looking into the issue.

read more »

Failed Senate Candidate Files Suit Seeking New Election

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Larry Crim filed suit in federal court today asking that the recent primary win by Mark Clayton be voided and a new primary ordered. Crim claims the Tennessee Democratic Party and its chairman Chip Forrester – who have disavowed Clayton -- failed to weed out the candidate before the race. According to Crim, under the party bylaws, Clayton is not eligible to run as a Democrat because he has not voted in enough Democratic races. The suit asked for an emergency hearing on the motion tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. in federal Judge Kevin Sharp’s courtroom. The Nashville Scene has more

read more »

Haslam Backs Harwell as Hints of Challenge Emerge

Gov. Bill Haslam says he is backing current Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, in her bid to keep her leadership role amid news that Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, might challenge her for the top job. According to WPLN, a bid by Matheny risks pitting more conservative House Republicans against the moderate Harwell, who has raised the ire of gun-friendly lawmakers by limiting the amount of time the House has spent on gun bills.

read more »

Clayton and Campfield Team Up

Mark Clayton, who was disavowed by the state Democratic Party after winning the Senate primary, held a news conference in Nashville today with an unlikely companion. He and Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield teamed up, with Campfield telling reporters that he had previously tried, but failed, to recruit Clayton to run as a Republican. Campfield is the sponsor of a bill seeking to bar teaching about gay issues; Clayton found disfavor with his party over his anti-gay stance.  The News Sentinel has the story

read more »

Study on Voter ID Fraud Turns Up Few Cases

A group that's part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education focused on investigative reporting, analyzed 2,608 alleged election-fraud cases back to 2000 in all 50 states. In all, they found just 10 cases of voter impersonation. In Tennessee, the study turned up 14 total cases of reported fraud since 2000, none of which were cases of voter impersonation. The city of Memphis filed a lawsuit last week challenging the state's voter ID law on constitutional grounds. The Nashville Scene has more

read more »

Courthouse Room Named for Former House Speaker

John T. Cunningham was honored Sunday when a Community Room in the Montgomery County Court House was dedicated to him. Cunningham served as Speaker of the House and, subsequently, county judge for Montgomery County.  Read more in the Leaf Chronicle

read more »

6th Circuit: Put Green and Constitution Parties on Ballots

A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Thursday assures that Green Party candidates will have a place on Tennessee's November general election ballot in several races. State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said the court ruling came following a request for an expedited ruling on two issues in a lawsuit brought by the Green and Constitution parties challenging the state's ballot access. The News Sentinel has more

read more »

Memphis Files Direct Challenge to Photo ID Law

The city of Memphis is now mounting a direct challenge to the state’s voter photo identification law claiming the law adds a qualification beyond what is required in the state constitution. Attorneys for the city filed a motion Tuesday in federal court to amend their original suit, which sought approval for using photo library cards as valid voter identification. The new claim argues that Article 4, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution prohibits the imposition of additional qualifications beyond those enumerated: that voters be at least 18 years old, residents of the state and the United States, and registered in the county where the election is held. The Memphis Daily News has more

read more »

Clayton Threatens FEC Complaint Against Party

Mark Clayton, presumptive Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, has called on Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester to resign or be dismissed from his post for refusing to support a party nominee and using party resources to attack “a duly elected nominee.” The Democratic Party has disavowed Clayton and was pursuing options this week for invalidating his primary win and holding a new election. Clayton said that if Forrester is not out of office by Monday, he plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. The News Sentinel reports

read more »