click to enlarge
Tennessee Democratic Party chair Chip Forrester stopped reading the blog comments long enough to smack down Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey for calling for an end to the legislature's in-session ban on campaign fund-raising. Before the ban, lobbyists literally would stick checks into the pockets of lawmakers as they walked through Legislative Plaza on their way to vote on bills. In a press release
, Forrester says:
"Lt. Gov. Ramsey helped end what was known as the 'legislative session shakedown' in 1995. Now that he's running for governor, the ethics law that he sponsored has become inconvenient. We can't go backwards on ethics reform. In the name of good government, Lt. Gov. Ramsey should immediately retract his comments."
"His influence is wide and far-reaching. His desire to collect campaign contributions as legislation reaches these committees raises serious questions about the Lt. Governor's belief in good government policies. His position is nothing but a self-interested ploy that harms the progress we have made in Tennessee."
The state GOP responds:
The truth is, no law will stop unethical people from taking money they shouldn't take, as Mr. Forrester should well recall given the handful of Democrat state senators who are now ex-state senators - three of whom are convicted felons - after taking money they shouldn't have taken.
asked Ramsey about this last week, and he said he hasn't made up his mind yet whether to try to lift the ban. If he passed such a bill, presumably he could raise money for the governor's race during next year's session. The betting here is that it eventually will dawn on Ramsey that (a) this looks really bad politically and (b) he probably couldn't push this through the legislature if he tried. Democrats would unite against lifting the ban just to screw with Ramsey, and Republican supporters of Bill Haslam and Zach Wamp wouldn't go for it, either. Haslam raised another $300,000
at a Knoxville fundraiser last week.