A group of the city’s top lobbyists and business people will hold an Oct. 4 fund-raiser for newly elected Councilman at-Large Jerry Maynard to help him repay his campaign debt.
Several of the event’s hosts often have business pending before the legislative body.
The fund-raiser, according to an e-mail invitation forwarded to several business and community leaders by former Councilman-at-Large Adam Dread on Tuesday, will be hosted at the office of Hall Strategies, one of Nashville’s most influential lobbying firms. Maynard’s campaign, as of Sept. 4., when the most recent campaign donation disclosures were due Metro, had $7,133 in outstanding campaign loans.
New at-Large Councilman Ronnie Steine will be taking similar action. Steine said Tuesday his campaign will mail fund-raising letters soon to help repay tens of thousands of dollars in debt from his at-large campaign — much of which he gave his campaign via a personal loan. Steine said he intends to try to repay as much of from his own pocket.
At-large councilmembers Tim Garrett and Charlie Tygard said they have no outstanding campaign debt, although Tygard said he may have to raise a little money in coming weeks to help pay legal fees he faced as a result of a recent court challenge to his win, depending on the legal bill. At-Large Councilwoman Megan Barry said she has about $22,000 in campaign debt, which she intends to repay out of pocket.
Dread said he sees no problem with the Oct. 4 fund-raiser and called such events a fact of political life.
“That’s the only way you can win an election — is to raise money,” Dread said. “This was not Jerry’s idea. Folks said [to Maynard], ‘Hey, you have some debt — can we help you get rid of it?’ And that’s a generous offer, but it’s a very common practice, and I think there’s nothing that should be misconstrued by the public as any lobbyists getting special favor for it. It’s an industry standard,” Dread said.
“When you’re close to the wire — and look at Jerry, he came in fifth place [out of five] — there’s some make-it-or-break-it stuff. You make some tough financial decisions, and you certainly do go into some debt. So I think it’s very helpful to have folks like that willing to come through who believe in you to help you get out of it.”
The hosts of the Oct. 4 event, according to Dread’s e-mail, include lobbyist Jane Alvis, land planner Roy Dale, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce chairman Darrell Freeman, developer and Music City Center proponent Bert Mathews, lobbyist Peter Heidenreich, developer Bill Hostettler, lobbyist Joe Hall, contractor Bill Knestrick, Bass Berry & Sims managing Partner Keith Simmons, lobbyist Abby Trotter, attorney Bob Tuke, attorney and lobbyist James Weaver, and Maynard’s father, Jerry Maynard Sr., a preacher.
Hall, who founded Hall Strategies, has registered as a lobbyist for 13 entities with Metro this year, according to the Metro Clerk. He said the fund-raiser is being held at his office simply because it is new and because people are curious to see it and he said he gave Maynard his support months before the election.
“He’s smart and has strong ideas and is the type of guy that everybody wants on the Council, whether you’re a lobbyist or not,” Hall said.
Maynard said the fund-raiser will not affect his voting in the Council at all.
“If you look at my record as a community activist, I’ve always stood for the principles I stand for — and I stand for public education, I stand for affordable housing for working families, I also stand for economic development and expanding the tax base,” Maynard said.
“I’m not going to change that whether someone contributes to my campaign or not. I am a minister, I consider myself a man of God first and foremost, so I would never, ever sell my vote or compromise my principles in any manner.”
Weaver, when asked to comment, emphasized that not only business interests donated to Council campaigns before the election.
“Like it or not, these people who run for public office have to raise money, and whether you’re talking about the Business Coalition or whether you’re talking about the development and building community or whether you’re talking about the labor unions, they all participated financially in these races, and that’s our system,” Weaver said, “Like it or not, it’s very expensive to run countywide, and Jerry has a debt, and he wants to retire it, and I don’t blame him.”