Below today's video, I review what we've learned.
NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather
NewsChannel5 brought out the following in this investigative report :
- The state's motor pool was turned over to Enterprise Rental Car without any bids being taken.
- Maintenance of state vehicles was contracted out to Bridgestone without any bids being taken, and the current state Finance Commissioner, appointed by Haslam, once headed up Bridgestone.
- A $330 Million contract for the management of state buildings was given to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a company which has been one of Governor Haslam's "major investments." JLL was given the authority to negotiate leases on behalf of the state with third parties, and then collect a 4% commission on any new leases it completed.
- Haslam's personal political consultant, Tom Ingram, is a professional lobbyist with The Ingram Group. Ingram not only is Haslam's consultant, but he frequently lobbies state agencies and appears to have Haslam's ear on anything and everything.
- JLL recommended tearing down the Cordell Hull State Office Building due to a leaky foundation. Then, it was revealed that the leak wasn't that big of a deal, but JLL got paid for the advice anyway. As a rsult of its contract, JLL could get paid for every state building it recommends being torn down, overseeing each building's demolition, and for overseeing the moving of state employees from any state building it recommends be demolished.
- Tennessee's Comptroller of the Treasury, Justin Wilson, and others raised concerns about the multiple no-bid contracts. Those concerns were basically ignored by the Haslam Administration and the state legislature. An audit by the Comptroller's Office said JLL had an "unfair advantage" in the contract process. Once again, the findings were ignored.
- Current U.S. Senators from the state of Tennessee Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker also pay Tom Ingram for similar services as those Ingram renders to Governor Haslam. Alexander and Corker disclose those payments on their campaign financial reports. Haslam refuses to.
|English: former Congressman and Governor of Tennessee Ray Blanton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
- Extravagant spending,
- Friends being taken on trips on the state's dime,
- Bar tabs on the state's dime,
- Limousine rentals on the state's dime,
- Blanton's family's company getting a paving contract at a state park, and
- selling surplus state-owned cars to political cronies.
However, these were not the worst of it. State officials were bribed for pardons of convicted criminals. Some state officials were arrested, but not before Blanton issued over 50 pardons and was planning more.
Blanton wasn't charged in regards to the pardons, but was later accused of selling liquor licenses. He was eventually indicted for mail fraud, extortion, and conspiracy, convicted, and served nearly 2 years in prison after being run out of the governor's office. It is my opinion, based upon NewsChannel5's investigation, the Haslam Administration could eventually make the Blanton Administration look like Boy Scouts. Oh - by the way - did you hear about the latest Haslam Administration investigation? The Feds may even get involved. It appears Haslam may have attempted to influence the union vote at the Chattanooga Volkswagon plant. Oops.
The real problem I'm having with the whole thing, though, is the lack of outcry. Yes, you can chalk up the outcry from the Democrats contained within these videos to politics if you like. However, wrong is wrong no matter who is doing it. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about Republicans or Democrats. Well, at least it shouldn't. However, in Tennessee, it appears it does. In this one-hour series, the only Republican who is shown being critical of the Haslam Administration is Rep. Mark Pody from Lebanon. I'm not the biggest fan of Pody, but he is right in this case.
The question I have for other Republican members of the state legislature is this - Republicans supposedly are conservative. Part of being a conservative is following and enforcing the rules, no matter what. So, why has Haslam gotten a pass on all these no-bid contracts, appearances of conflicts of interest, not disclosing campaign payments, etc.? I'm sure if Haslam was a Democrat the GOP would have been all over him. I imagine they might even want him removed from office. The people of Tennessee deserve better. The GOP is in power. They should be holding the Haslam Administration accountable, but they are not. They are turning a blind eye and letting this administration do whatever it pleases. In fact, the State Legislature hasn't even done an investigation! They've been too busy legalizing hemp, making sure Tennesseans can buy wine in grocery stores, and telling the Federal government it can't enforce Federal gun laws in Tennessee. Stupid, useless laws. While the GOP is busy with all that crap, the Haslam Administration is running wild. One can make an argument that the GOP controlled legislature is derelict in its duty.
|Tennessee State Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Haslam has a bunch of opponents, too, including primary opponents. They are listed here on the Secretary of State's website. Look this list over, do your own homework on Haslam's opponents, and vote him out. Later in the year, prior to the August primaries, I plan to profile all of them. I'm looking forward to voting against him twice this year - once in the GOP primary, and then again in the general election, if he wins the primary. It will be hard to beat him. He has the money to buy the office again just like he did in 2010. However, if conservatives will get together and support one candidate, I think it's possible to oust him. However, if the vote is split between multiple candidates, Haslam will win re-election in a landslide.
Tennessee is in a dangerous position. The Republicans control the governor's office, the State House, and the State Senate. No party should ever be given that much power, because when it happens, that party runs wild like the GOP has for the last few years. As hard as this is to say, if Haslam wins re-election, then the next best alternative is for Tennessee voters to give one of the two chambers of the legislature back to the Democrats.
Yes, I know some of you are now thinking I'm off my rocker, but Haslam has to be kept in check somehow, even if it means giving some power back to the Donkey Party. What we've got now ain't working. As the title of this series has asked - The Haslam Administration - Cronyism Or Just "Good Business"? - in my opinion, it's cronyism with a capital C, and it has to stop. It's wong.