Lobbyists host fund-raiser for councilman

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 11:09pm

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.”

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By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Affordable housing is already available. It is known as rental properties.

By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 6:00

That Adam "I Am So Not Funny That I Had To Become A Lawyer" Dread "sees no problem with the Oct. 4 fund-raiser" is further evidence that he is unfit for leadership positions in either the private or public sector.I suppose Adam "I Am So Not Funny That I Had To Become A Lawyer" Dread “would see no problem with a person making a little meth to supplement the family income.

By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I suggest that we limit candidates ability to spend money be tied to that candidate that raises the least amount of money. Thereby leveling the playing field at least as far as money contributions is concerned.

By: Muzhik on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I thought bribery was illegal corruption.

By: slacker on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Can the loser's hold legal fund-raiser's to pay off their debt.

By: morpheus120 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Wow - lots of opinions from people who have probably never even watched a council meeting on TV or gone to one, let alone run for office.Until you put your energy behind a publicly-financed elections law (all candidates get a fixed amount of money from - gasp - the taxpayers), then candidates will continue to raise money from whoever they need to get elected.So what do you say, plantsman, are you ready to get a tax hike to pay for everyone's campaigns so candidates don't need to raise money from lobbyists?

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I agree, Plants, that Adam Dread is unfit for public leadership, and his leaving, Carolyn Tucker’s leaving, & Buck Dozier’s leaving the council raises the level of the council. Your idea about limiting the candidates to the candidate who spends least is clever but wouldn’t work.Morpheus makes a better point that those who complain about taxes & constantly tout “the private sector” over “the public sector” (as if such fields really existed) cannot complain when politicians turn themselves over to plutocrats for cash. I’m sorry to see Jerry Maynard do this & to try to delude us by claiming that the plutes won’t affect his voting. (Calling himself a “man of god” assures rational people not a whit.)That millionaire Ronnie Steine will do the same, selling himself to lobbyists, is even sleazier. I’m more impressed w/ Megan Barry, who spent her money better & came in first & will cover her debt herself, making her beholden to no one.

By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Morpheus120 there you go again making unfounded assumptions. I, for one, have been politically active since my teen years and have worked political campaigns from city council to the Presidency in Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky for conservative Democrats, Independent and Republicans alike. From door-to-door solicitation to telephone banks to staffing information booths and attending conventions. Nonetheless, another point that you missed is not that we should or should not have “publicly-financed elections” (which I am not in favor) but that the amount of money that each candidate can spend is tied to that candidate that has raised the least amount of funds. As an example – If you raised ten billion dollars against MJB’s ten million dollars, then you can only use ten million dollars and would have to return the remainder to the respective donor.

By: GMONEY on 12/31/69 at 6:00

MJB - Unless you know Jerry Maynard...it's easy for you to make the statement, "I'm sorry to see Jerry Maynard do this & to try to delude us by claiming that the plutes won't affect his voting. (Calling himself a "man of god" assures rational people not a whit.)" I guess you have selective reading when people have mentioned that the fund raising practice is normal and a way of life in the political arena. So he is not doing anything wrong. The story also stated that he did not ask for this to be done....he was approached. If somebody came to you and said...hey can i help you pay one of your bills off.....and you at the same time said that there are no strings attached by me accepting your money....and they are okay with that....you would take it in a heart beat. Also....do you even know what a fund raiser is? The money is going to come from people who show up at the gathering and write a check in....so it's not all coming from the lobbyist...they are just putting it together.It just irks me how your average joe wants to play God and judge people in the court of public opinion and nothing has been done illegally. Oh and if you don't believe him when he says he is a man of God....how about going to his church for however long it takes....to see that he is a man of God. He goes to Cathedral of Praise.....4300 Clarksville Pike. Nashville...37218

By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 6:00

MJB, politics has devolved from that of public service too a professional blood sport similar to Roman Gladiators with the spectators demanding the death (character assassination, and defeat) of a candidate so they can have something to write about and read about. Heaven forbid a candidate or pundit should have the audacity to suggest that, the “other side” may also have good ideas. Because should that occur then he/she is vilified as weak, or worse - a traitor. It appears to me that the only “good ideas” are those in the marketing departments and the candidates have become entertainers vying to see who is on top of the charts (polls). The news media wants ratings, not solutions.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Plants, your clever solution about holding candidates down to the one who raises the least money won’t work. It will be circumvented and, more importantly, it’s probably unconstitutional. In addition, candidates in second or third place will get a friend on the ballot, who will raise nothing, as an attempt to bring down a leading candidate. Finally, when does this measuring happen? every day? every week?You are nostalgic, however, about politics, Plants. It’s always been the place for the stupid & corrupt. That we have a corrupt moron in the White House, spineless morons in Congress, & little corruption in city & state offices from coast to coast is nothing new. (It’s one thing that makes this presidential dollar-coin project such a joke: Who wants Millard Fillmore or Benjamin Harrison enshrined on coins?)There are certainly venues you describe, Plants, on the media (which is a plural word). I can think of Bill O’Reilly, the McLaughlin Group, this Shuster fellow on MSNBC (if Blackburn’s appearance is representative), the grinning idiot (name begins w/ G) on CNN Headline (I see it in airports), &c. We should ignore them & seek out places where people speak thoughtfully & w/out interruption & where people write thoughtfully & intelligently & at length. Unfortunately, Nashville’s newspapers aren’t those places. I share revive my subscription to The Nation.Gmon, of course it’s wrong to raise money from lobbyists. You are seeking the favor of people who will seek your vote. It’s imbecilic to think that this fund-raiser won’t influence Jerry Maynard’s vote. No one is immune from influence. There is no such thing as "no strings attached". In addition, of course, it’s not illegal. Just because it’s not illegal doesn’t make it right. (I can’t believe that I would need to explain that to an adult.)Why do you say that I don’t believe that Maynard is “a man of god”? Believing him makes no difference. Being a “man of god” is the equivalent of being a “man of the tooth fairy” or “of Santa Claus” or “of Zeus”. It has no bearing on your personal ethics. Indeed, the more one touts oneself as a “man of god”, the more we should suspect him. Think Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham.I voted for Maynard, because people whom I respect said that he was pretty good, and his statements looked good. I almost didn’t vote for him, because he’s a minister. We need to move politics above religion & help it attain a level of rationality & commonweal that theism has, for centuries, failed to deliver.

By: GMONEY on 12/31/69 at 6:00

MJB - Your comment about (I can't believe that I would need to explain that to an adult) is really unnecessary. I was just giving an opinion to your opinion. Again....your judging him and don't even know him. You can be suspect all day on him if you won't...but he shouldn't have to pay for some one else's game that claimed to be a "man of God". Also did you know that our nation was built upon the prinicples of Christianity? You will never be able to separate or move politics above religion. When you or this nation is in trouble...you don't call on politics.....you call on God to help you. If for some reason your an atheist....may God bless you any how.

By: theplantsman on 12/31/69 at 6:00

BTW, MJB, why would my suggestion not work?

By: NashvilleNeighbor on 12/31/69 at 6:00

thank God, Mr Dread is no longer on the council. Every time his name is in any of the local papers it is related to some sleazy activity. As for Mr Maynard, I regret, as a lot of people now, voting for him.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Gmon, you were not giving an opinion. You made an utterly irrelevant statement that Jerry Maynard’s fund-raiser was not illegal. I merely pointed out the irrelevancy of that statement. I have NOT judged Maynard. I have stated that placing himself beholden to lobbyists is a wrong way to begin his time on the council, and, of course, the money influences him. It can’t do otherwise. Your sentence “You can be suspect...” doesn’t make any sense. Please read what you write before you post it. Finally, you are incorrect about the U.S.A. Our country was not founded on any Christian principles. It was founded (if we mean the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution) on principles of rational secularism. That is part of the reason for the fundamental separation between church & state. When my nation is in trouble, like now, I try to persuade people to think differently. I use reason to the best of my ability & in any spare moments I have to help people see how we can reform our society & the world’s societies & work toward a better future. No gods needed.Plants, I mentioned a couple of reasons in my last remark. It’s clever but unworkable. What current electoral politics needs is a more level playing field. A means of raising more public funds for candidates, also requiring all electronic media outlets to give more time to candidates, would level, slightly, the monetary unfairness. The existence of parties & p.a.c.s, however, make all election laws difficult to enforce.

By: TRHJR on 12/31/69 at 6:00

MJB... YOU ARE SUCH A FOOL.... i`M SO GLAD THAT THERE ARE ONLY ABOUT TEN OF TYPES IN THIS COUNTRY.... OR WE WOULD STILL HAVE BILL & HILL AS THE GOOFEES RUNNIN`EN THE COUNTRY.....

By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This guy may be the new Ludeye Wallace.

By: GMONEY on 12/31/69 at 6:00

MJB - The more you post...the worst your argument is. Your dead wrong about this nation not being built on Christianity. If it wasn't, there would not even be a need for separating church vs. state. Oh, how do you know he will be influenced by this fund raiser? Just because you would be doesn't mean he would be. And yes you are judging him because you are saying the money influences him...when he hasn't even started as being a councilman. NashvilleNeighbor - Since having fundraisers before and/or after the elections is done with regularity in the political arena.....maybe you shouldn't vote at all. I wouldn't want you to regret voting for someone who received money from lobbyist and non-lobbyist.

By: vlofstead on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Since this is not about buying influence I assume the kind and benevolent lobbyists will be hosting fund raisers for the losers too. NOT! It would be interesting, I think, to at some point in the future see a comparison between the projects represented by thecontributors and the voting record of the contributee.

By: honestvoice on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The simple solution would be to not allow any candidate to raise or spend more than that position pays during the elected term. For mayor, for instance, the limit would be about $400,000 not $2,000,000 that Dean and Clement both spent. The Council would be limited to about $40,000 instead of over $100,000 spent by each of the At Large winners.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

As you will not explain your previous remark, Gmon, you demonstrate that you don’t have an interest in discussion. So, goodbye.Viofstead, you make a good point, and Voice, that’s an interesting rule, but how would you ever enforce it? Also, what’s needed is more free media. The people own the airwaves. The local channels should be required to give time to all candidates.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

God, Idgaf, you are SUCH a racist. Has Ludye Wallace had lobbyists hold fund-raisers for him? Or is he simply a Black man whom you (redundantly) dislike? If you want to compare Jerry Maynard to someone, then find someone who holds similar views & has had the poor judgement to permit lobbyists to hold fundraisers.