Rex: Barrett Firearms gets extra help lobbying legislature

Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 10:45pm

Rex knows building roads is one of the main things the Tennessee General Assembly does. Stories of various governors threatening legislators with road graders have wafted around the Capitol for years.

Roads were the topic of conversation again last week — specifically, a road requested by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing of Murfreesboro. This company doesn’t make popguns, kids; they build .50 caliber rifles. Those leave a mark on you — er, what’s left of you.

The owner of the company is Ronnie Barrett, who also happens to be engaged to Republican state Rep. Donna Rowland, also of Murfreesboro.

Rowland joined Barrett at a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee last week. Barrett was there to persuade state senators to approve funding for a new road heading to his factory. According to Rex’s sources, Rowland did a bit more than just attend the meeting with her fiancé.

Behind closed doors, Rowland asked state senators to fund the road project. More than one state senator was less than thrilled with Rowland’s power play — such a blatant conflict of interest.

By the way, the bill was postponed until later this week.

Strange bedfellows

Rex didn’t think there were any other ways for a politician to get in bed with someone — the figurative, the literal, the Massa — but dagnabit, Republican state House candidate Bill Sanderson of Kenton has found a way.

Sanderson is running for the rural West Tennessee House seat held by first-term Democratic Rep. Judy Barker of Union City. He ran last time and lost by a few points.

In order to raise some bread, Sanderson sent fundraising letters to various political action committees asking for campaign cash. He trotted out the tried and true “small businessman” line, touting his hardware/general store.

But what came next has the PACs scratching their heads. Included in the fundraising letter was a flier promoting his company’s special offer of a Serta “Perfect Sleeper” mattress for $199.

Because Sanderson’s campaign paid for the mailer, it passes legal muster.

Sanderson may be the most honest and faithful guy in the world, but Rex has a warning for him: You don’t wanna be known as “the mattress king” in the halls of the Capitol.

Name game

OK, Rex knows you may not remember that classic scene from The Simpsons, but a Franklin man probably wishes he had learned the same lesson Homer Simpson did before it was too late.

In that particular episode, mobsters who were going to kill him stuffed Homer into the back of the car. He kept telling him they had the wrong guy, but he also kept coming up with the names of other people the mob had a hit out on. In this instance it was Joe Valachi, a famous mobster who in 1963 was the first “made” Mafia man to publicly acknowledge their existence.

Our guy in Franklin isn’t Valachi, but his “D’oh!” is all the same.

Shortly after 1:30 a.m. last Monday, Franklin police officers were called to check a suspicious person in the area of 240 Franklin Road.

Officers encountered 33-year-old Berry Oden standing in front of a gas station. But according to police, Oden didn’t want them to know who he was. He provided a false name and date of birth, and when the officer checked the information, lo and behold, two Columbia warrants were confirmed for the man’s arrest. Not Oden, but the guy he claimed to be.

While in the process of transferring Oden to the custody of Columbia police, it was discovered that he was not the man authorities wanted.

Oden has now been charged with criminal impersonation, for allegedlly lying to police about his identity to avoid being arrested for warrants he thought were on file for his arrest.

Oden, who was actually not wanted at all, remains in the Williamson County Jail on a $500 bond. He is due in court on March 25.

Got a tip for Rex? Reach him at rnoseworthy@nashvillecitypaper.com

2 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 3/22/10 at 10:10

Criminals act and say the dumbest things!

By: localboy on 3/22/10 at 10:50

Where was this guy when COPS was in town filming a couple of years back?
Oh, that's right, wasn't he at the school board meeting...