House District 61 challenger Steve Gawrys has called upon the Registry of Election Finance to investigate a series of campaign events involving incumbent Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Brentwood).
Gawrys’ request calls out Democratic lobbyists Beth Winstead, Jim Wrye and others for hosting events for Sargent.
Wrye is the chief lobbyist for the Tennessee Teachers’ Union, and the former executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party.
Gawrys’ request says Wrye held an event at his home for Sargent on June 20.
“The TEA and their parent organization, the National Education Association, have endorsed Hillary Clinton and will likely be her largest donor, [they have] financially supported Planned Parenthood, embraced Obamacare and virtually every other liberal social cause imaginable during the 20 years that Sargent has been in the legislature,” Gawrys said.
This legislative session, the state’s budget included the largest increase in funding for public education in history. K-12 funding for the BEP (Basic Education Program) formula was increased by nearly $39 million to $4.8 billion. Higher education saw a $1.7 billion increase, and additional funds were budgeted for capital improvements, scholarships, teacher salaries and more.
Sargent was able to secure an additional $3 million for Williamson County Schools, covering about 60 percent of the county’s BEP funding shortfall.
“I am receiving support from school administrators, teachers and parents because I support education and have worked to get additional education dollars for Williamson County,” Sargent said. “I do not and have not supported any union agendas, but I will continue to fight for Williamson County’s share of the education dollars.”
Gawrys also called on the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance to launch an immediate investigation into the events being hosted by registered lobbyists on Sargent’s behalf.
“Lobbyists are not allowed to make campaign donations, yet the in-kind donations that are involved with hosting events in their private homes appear to be a clear violation of the law,” Gawrys said. “At the very least, it is a violation of the intent of the regulations.”
Gawrys has also called on Sargent to document any and all expenses related to the events and the amounts raised for his campaign at the events.
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance has no statement at this time. Check back with BHP for updates.
Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @samanthahearn.