Whopper of the Month

Friday, May 23, 2008

Against the Waller

Posted By on Fri, May 23, 2008 at 1:48 PM

Lobbyist Tom Lee's clumsy dust-up with Will Pinkston, a top aide to Gov. Phil Bredesen, reminded me of another time Lee's firm found itself on the wrong end of an inane political firestorm. In 2005, three of Lee's colleagues at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis emailed city council members in support of a controversial new Wal-Mart in southern Davidson County. Conveniently, they forgot to mention that their firm represented the big-box retailer. The Scene's John Spragens wrote how these three brilliant legal minds, Rose Drupiewski, Justin Wilson and John Faldetta, contacted the entire Metro Council (from Yahoo! accounts) to let them know how great the proposed Super Wal-Mart would be—even though they lived nowhere near the planned store. Their intentions were clear: to convince the Metro Council that they were merely concerned citizens who desperately wanted a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood, not hired guns surreptitiously shilling for their big-time client. Unfortunately, they weren't as as surreptitious as they should have been...which is why you're reading about it now. It didn't help that two of them actually sent identical emails, which somewhat spoiled the appearance of a faux grassroots campaign. Incredibly, one of the attorneys explained to Spragens that she wasn't doing the bidding of her law firm—she just really, really would "like more Wal-Marts in the area.” Awesome. So why am I rehashing this now? I'm a little worried about the fine, upstanding lawyers at Waller. They're supposed to be the most politically savvy firm in town, lobbying for powerful, well-heeled interests, but they are developing a bit of a reputation for small-town lawyering. It was less than a year ago, during the mayor's race, that Waller attorney and lobbyist James Weaver tried to send Bob Clement and Karl Dean a confidential memo suggesting that they keep a possible new deal for the Nashville Predators under the radar. Instead, Weaver's memo ended up on the front page of The Tennessean. Oops. Now I'd like to talk directly to the partners at Waller, after the jump. Just me and them. Everyone else stop reading. You're on the honor system. So go outside and enjoy our beautiful spring weather and log off now, k?

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tale of Treachery

Posted By on Wed, May 21, 2008 at 3:12 PM

Anybody up for a juicy story of betrayal from the Capitol? A top aide to the governor squares off against lobbyists in a tussle over rich people's money. This story's got it all—alleged blackmail, artful subterfuge, general chicanery and, as the lobbyists themselves often call it, "sport fucking." As an added bonus, here's a contender for our coveted Whopper of the Month award from Waller Lansden's Tom Lee:
That’s preposterous. Words fail. That never happened. I do not have a tape of anybody leaving a voice message with anybody. I have never said to anybody that I have a voice message from anyone, and I certainly would never because I have too much respect for the office of the governor and for this governor and would never use any kind of threat because I know it wouldn’t work. It would be unethical. It would be illegal. That would be about the dumbest thing someone could do. I can’t think of a single good reason why anyone would do it.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Briley Says Goodbye

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2008 at 2:22 PM

The City Paper's John Rodgers has an account of Rep. Rob Briley's farewell address in which the outgoing lawmaker takes a shot at the local media for not ignoring his issues with alcoholism and adultery. “The right to a free and open press, though, comes with a responsibility, and from my experience over the past year, that responsibility is not being lived up to, “Briley said from the House podium. Yup, that's just what we need. A lecture on responsibility from this guy. Listen, the media didn't have anything to do with Briley's personal destruction; he did it all to himself. The drunken, pathetic outbursts, the extramarital affair with a lobbyist, the flight from a rehab center to the warm, welcoming confines of a casino in Tunica—we couldn't have made that up if we wanted to. That was all Briley. We, and particularly our own Jeff Woods, just covered his fall from grace, and we didn't even include everything we knew to be true. If anything, he should be grateful for our discretion. Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, we at the Scene are not experts on alcoholism. But it doesn't seem like the road to recovery should include blaming everyone else for the miserable turn your life has taken. So here's our farewell message to Briley: Go away. And stay off the road. Update: We take it all back. Rob Briley is a uniter, not a divider. He somehow managed to get both Bill Hobbs and Sean Braisted to agree on the lameness of his farewell address.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Eating Their Words

Posted By on Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Today we’re introducing a new Pith feature in which we honor the best bullshitters on the Tennessee political landscape. Lying comes naturally to politicians. But to win this coveted monthly award will take true talent, and we expect fierce competition from our legions of razor-tongued operators. Who told the biggest whopper of the past month? What do you think? And the nominees are: “Absolutely not.” Gov. Phil Bredesen, denying his media blitz to promote his idea for a Democratic superdelegate convention has interfered with his elected responsibilities. His visit to Washington, D.C., to appear on TV talk shows caused him to be two hours late for a Chattanooga meeting of constituents on his proposed reform of long-term care. "When politicians hear the American people calling loud and clear for change, they'll listen." Al Gore, kicking off a multimillion-dollar ad campaign calling for the U.S. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

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