Deep Pockets 

Locals open their checkbooks for presidential candidates

Locals open their checkbooks for presidential candidates

The Internet as most of us understand it is but a decade old, but already mankind has benefited in at least two major ways from its existence. First, there's that game your friend sent you the link to where you pretend you're the Abominable Snowman whacking a diving penguin with a club to see how far it will skid across the ice. The second (but by no means less important) way is making "public records" actually accessible to the public at large.

Take campaign finance disclosures, for example. Sure, they've always been open records, but how many of us really ever took the time to pull the files from the election office to read them? Well, thanks to the Internet, now we don't have to.

The most popular Web site along these lines is Fundrace2004 (, which, as The Tennessean's Mike Morrow noted on Sunday, tells you what presidential candidate is the choice of your favorite Music Row star. But that's just the beginning of what you can learn about your friends and neighbors at Fundrace. Here's a sampling:

♦ Vanderbilt is Bush Country. Noted physician Frank Boehm gave W. $2,000, as did oft-quoted law professor James Blumstein. Former Vandy football coach Fred Pancoast did the same. Vice chancellor Mike Schoenfeld also gave the president the individual maximum. One exception to this rule was Constance Gee, wife of Chancellor Gordon Gee, who gave $800 to Howard Dean.

♦ Typing in "Frist" brings up eight names, all from Nashville, and each marked at $2,000 for Bush. That's $16,000 from the Frist family alone. Good people really do beget...oh never mind.

♦ Just as everyone suspected, trial lawyers really dug Democratic runner-up John Edwards, who bagged $2,000 (the individual maximum) from such local legal eagles as George Barrett, Tom Nebel, Phillip Miller and Bart Durham. No word on whether John Kerry, upon hearing of this last contribution, looked ruefully at his staff and said, "Bart Durham? Let's settle this one."

♦ Among local political types, at-large Metro Council member David Briley gave John Edwards $1,000 while State Rep. Rob Briley gave Edwards $500. School board member Christina Norris gave Dean $250, and Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips gave Bush $1,875. The president also scored $2,000 donations from Judge Ben Cantrell and radio talk show host Steve Gill.

♦ We didn't know that being a "homemaker" was such a lucrative profession, but many Nashville "homemakers" (we shall spare you their names) were somehow able to scrounge up $2,000 to give to their fave candidate. Oddly, these contributions exactly matched those of their spouses, resulting in $4,000 contributions per household. Go figure. Maybe they found the money under their sofa cushions or something.

♦ Apparently, being a school bus driver is equally rewarding. An Antioch man who listed his profession as a bus driver for Metro schools managed to contribute $2,000 to Bush. There's just got to be more to that story, doesn't there?

♦ John Kerry, by the way, didn't do so well, at least in the latest filings. But it's early yet, and he'll make headway among Nashville Democrats soon enough.

Free parking

Not to make too big a deal about this, but one recent weekday afternoon, Political Notes parked in the large and spacious garage behind the main library. Out of curiosity, we timed the walk from there to the Metro Council chambers. It was a mere three minutes, and that's including the security search. There was even a pleasant little coffee shop on the way. We're just pointing this out (Rip Ryman), if anyone was looking for a place to park in that area.


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