Two of the state’s highest-ranking Republican leaders have collectively raised more than $282,000 to aid GOP legislative races in a year the party hopes to land supermajority status in both chambers.
The donations came from a mix of businesses and individuals in donations as large as $10,000, according to a list of donors the Tennessee Republican Party provided to The City Paper.
“The Republican caucus typically helps existing incumbent members, but we wanted to help in races for new members as well,” Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters after a get-out-the-vote rally at Republican House Candidate Ben Claybaker’s campaign headquarters Monday.
The funds were deposited in the Governor’s Leadership Fund, an account within the Republican Party, according to party spokesman Adam Nickas. While the fund resembles a political action committee — which requires regular disclosures of who donated and how the money was spent — the two Republican leaders do not control how the dollars are used and do not have to register the account as a PAC.
The Tennessee Republican Party, which is in control of spending money from the account, funneled almost $92,000 of those dollars into 24 GOP House races, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel .