Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lobbyists and Lawmakers Audits


Yesterday, Mark Greene was serving one of his clients, the Tennessee Lobbyist Association, by observing the agency that oversees lobbyists, the Tennessee Ethics Commission, during its meeting. Then, for the first time since its creation, the ethics commission was conducting a random, electronic selection of 11 of the 538 registered lobbyists to be audited.

He joined other "lucky" notables including Ralph Schulz, president of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Johnny Hayes, a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser and national campaign finance chairman for Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000.

Greene, one of the handful of lobbyists attending the meeting, had jokingly remarked that he had a 98 percent chance of not being selected, which he — like most — considered pretty good.

But the computer thought otherwise as it picked No. 191 — Greene's number.

Greene muttered an expletive and jokingly yelled out to the commission that he wanted to go "double or nothing."

"I'm finished," Greene quipped later to reporters. "Just take me straight to jail."


The Registry of Election Finance randomly selected the candidates for the state Senate District 17, which included the winner, Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mount Juliet) and Democrats Bob Rochelle and Aubrey Givens. Two other state representatives, Reps. John Tidwell (D-New Johnsonville) Steve McManus (R-Memphis) as well as McManus' opponent's campaign accounts will also be audited.

In addition, 18 legislators who had non-itemized contributions on their campaign disclosure accounts of $5,000 or more will also be automatically audited. Rep. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) is one of those 18.