JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) -First, some members of the Grand Old Party were left off the guest list at the big Republican Party in Jonesborough last Friday night. Now, they're saying their political party is quietly trying to take them out ahead of the upcoming primary.
Some Republicans are accusing the Tennessee GOP of targeting them ahead of next week's election.
An email obtained by News Channel 11 from Republican State Executive Committee member Mark Winslow of Nashville sent to other members Thursday lays out the case. The State Executive Committee is the group that governs the Republican Party. (Governs implies that the people have some say in this, more like dictates...just sayin)
In the email, Winslow specifically raises concerns about the Strong and Free (Wrong & Bourgeoisie) Tennessee political action committee; a PAC he argues has close ties to some of the higher-ups in the Republican Party, including the chairman of the Tennessee GOP. (Yes Chris I-Love-Me-Some-RINO-Plaid-Lyin-Alexander Devaney)
"The document raises unsettling questions about our party leadership," Winslow wrote in the email. "The treasurer listed is 'David Lay' of Lawrenceburg. Mr. Lay is actually Blake Lay, the former mayor of Lawrenceburg, friend and ally of Chairman Devaney as well as former Chairman Bob Davis. The witness to the appointment of the treasurer is Troy Brewer. As you know, Mr. Brewer is a long time employee of the Tennessee Republican Party (appearing on our most recent campaign finance disclosure) the former treasurer of Speaker Beth Harwell's PAC, friend of Chairman Devaney as well as Bob Davis and currently a candidate for State Representative."
Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Executive Director Drew Rawlins confirmed someone previously filed a complaint against the PAC with 18th Judicial District Attorney General Ray Whitley.
"The complaint concerned Strong & Free not (being) registered with the county election commissions," Rawlins said. "My understanding is that they are now registered with the appropriate count election commissions." (After the fact rules following...how quaint. The RINOS often accuse the Democrats of not following the rules only to turn around and not follow the rules. The rules are for the little people anyways right?)
By phone today Winslow told us until he and others forced the group's hand, the PAC tried its best to hide its identity. (Yes, it's funny how things work when when THE PEOPLE are paying attention and YOU GUYS get called out by your own party members)
"They went to great lengths to hide their identity until we got involved," Winslow said. "There's a very quiet war on conservatives going on in the state. Almost everyone that's being attacked...the common denominator is they are all conservatives." (Because, you know, it's those rascally backwoods conservatives who are ruining it for the inept status quo leaders right? It has nothing at all to do with their no-principles compromising lack of a strategy Republicrats)
The PAC has sent out plenty of mailers across the state supporting some executive committee candidates. Those mailers, among other things, suggest some conservative candidates want to take away people's right to vote, because they support closing Republican primaries so only Republicans can vote in them. Some argue leaving primaries open to anyone, including Democrats, hurts the integrity of the party.
Winslow is not the only one with suspicions.
Rep. Tony Shipley (R-District 2) believes those mailers are part of a coordinated attack. While the Strong and Free PAC is targeting State Executive Committee members, Shipley says another mysterious PAC based out of Washington, DC, is targeting state house members like himself, Rep. Matthew Hill (R-District 7) and Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-District 6). Filings reveal local philanthropist Scott Niswonger gave $10,000 to that PAC just last week.
"It's not fuzzy, there's a clear agenda by the moderates in our party to remove conservative legislators and conservative members of the (state executive committee)," Rep. Shipley said. "There is no doubt about it...I expect campaigns to be brutal. Politics is a contact sport, but in a primary when dealing with Republicans or so-called Republicans, I at least expect them to be honest." (That's because you give these Republicans the benefit of the doubt in that they will do the right thing. Most of us who are active now realize, the party will choose power over principles every day of the week. WE no longer give them the benefit of the doubt, they certainly don't deserve it)
So does Rep. Shipley have the support of the Tennessee GOP?
"I have the support of the people in the second house district, I can't tell you about the Tennessee GOP," he said. "I don't work for the Tennessee GOP, I work for the people of the second house district."
Others have their concerns too. Last night at a campaign rally for Joe Carr, who's challenging U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Rep. Hill said Tennessee is at a crossroads.
"Quite frankly, either the establishment is going to win or the people are going to stand up with a loud voice and say to the establishment, 'No more, not here, not now, not ever,'" Rep. Hill said. (Unbeknownst to Rep. Hill, the people have already won. It's just not obvious yet. As Ghandi said "First they Ignore you(check), Then they ridicule you(check), Then they fight you(check), & and then YOU WIN...we are somewhere between the fighting and the winning stage. Don't lose heart...the truth and passion is on the people's side)
Today Rep. Hill had this to say about his theory.
"It's an age old struggle between a handful of local folks who try and use their money to manipulate the outcome of elections and those of us who are for everyone," Rep. Hill said. "I serve everyone no matter where you come from or what your background is."
Although he says he's unsure what may or may not be going on across the state, Rep. Van Huss says he sees something going on locally.
"I do think that we're seeing a battle of conservative vs. Moderate in the Washington County races," Rep. Van Huss said.
Despite the claims, a Tennessee GOP spokesperson says the group has absolutely nothing to do with any of these races. (Of course not because you would never get involved in a primary against another republican right? Don't get me started on that...)
"While some individuals may find it politically advantageous to try and make the TNGOP out to be some sort of stalking horse, the fact is we are not involved in, or affiliated with, any efforts in primaries," TNGOP Executive Director Brent Leatherwood.
Earlier this week, Leatherwood sent an email to Winslow about this.
"There have been no TNGOP mailers used against SEC members if that's what you are implying," Leatherwood said in that email.
Local State Executive Committee member Kelly Wolfe, the Mayor of Jonesborough, who the Strong and Free PAC has supported, said he doesn't have any knowledge of any kind of coordinated attack.
"He's never known the party to do something like that," Wolfe said.
Rep. Shipley seems convinced.
"We are tracking their mailes, we're tracking the organizations and the people involved in it and we're going to track it back to the people who are in leadership positions that are doing it," he said. "These will be consequences. All we've got to do next week is win and we'll be able to apply those consequences."
In the infamous words of Cy Roberts...It's on...like Donkey Kong... in Tennessee!