By ERIK SCHELZIG and JOE EDWARDS
NASHVILLE — Businesses, trade groups and political action committees accounted for three out of every five dollars raised for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s inauguration last month.
Fundraising figures obtained by The Associated Press under Tennessee’s open records laws show more than 300 donations from the business world totaled $1.4 million for the festivities surrounding the Republican’s swearing-in on as Tennessee’s 49th governor.
About 1,500 donations from individuals made up nearly a $1 million more.
Corporations are banned from making direct contributions to candidates in elections, but are allowed to give up to $7,500 to inaugurations.
David Smith, Haslam’s press secretary, said Wednesday the governor “was committed to covering (inauguration) costs to the state and holding events accessible to all Tennesseans during these difficult financial times, and he worked to make that happen.”
Dick Williams of the advocacy group Common Cause said those barred from giving to candidates during campaigns can use the inauguration donations to try to curry favor with elected officials, especially because the corporations can give three times as much as individuals.
“Obviously they don’t mind if that ingratiates them with the governor and his party,” said Williams. “The whole thing is skewed toward corporate involvement.”
Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville said he sees nothing wrong with corporate donations, and that he will support legislation this year to allow them to be given directly to candidates.
“Corporations by definition are the stock holders,” he said. “It’s no different than a labor union being made up of members of the organization. Those stockholders are contributing to campaigns.”
Pilot Corp. and Pilot Travel Centers LLC, parent organizations of the national chain of truck stops owned by the Haslam family, combined to give $10,000 to the inaugural. Meanwhile, the new governor and several family members each gave $2,500 — the maximum amount allowed for individuals.
More than $1 million came from 143 corporations and PACs that gave the maximum to Haslam. They included Philip Morris parent Altria Group Inc., BP North America Corp. and Brown-Forman Corp., maker of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
Also hitting the maximum were dozens of companies making huge recent investments in Tennessee, including Volkswagen, Nissan, Wacker Chemie and Hemlock Semiconductor.
Others maxing out to the Haslam inauguration were several law firms with a heavy lobbying presence at the Capitol, and political action groups for various trade groups representing Tennessee bankers, hospitals, real estate agents, road builders and liquor wholesalers.
Disclosures filed with the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance indicate that Haslam spent about $1 million on the inauguration. State law allows leftover money to be used on a second inauguration, but it wasn’t immediately clear what Haslam will do with the excess.
Haslam’s inauguration committee found the greatest financial support in Nashville, where he raised about $610,000 from 358 donors. The former Knoxville mayor’s home county came in second with about $294,500 from 277 donors. Memphis was third on the list with 72 donors giving about $125,000.
A look at top donors to Haslam inauguration
By The Associated Press
Here is a list of the businesses and political action committees that donated the maximum $7,500 to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s inauguration last month:
21st Mortgage Corp., Knoxville, Tenn.
AGL Resources Inc., Atlanta, Ga.
Allergan USA Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn.
Altria Client Services Inc., Alpharetta, Ga.
Ameresco Inc., Framingham, Mass.
American Promotional Events, Florence, Ala.
Amerigroup Corp., Virginia Beach, Va.
AMSURG, Nashville, Tenn.
Anderson Press, Atlanta, Ga.
AT&T Corp., St. Louis, Mo.
Averitt Express, Cookeville, Tenn.
Ayers Asset Management Inc., Parsons, Tenn.
B & T Distributing Company, Knoxville, Tenn.
Baker Donelson Bearman Corp., Nashville, Tenn.
Baptist Memorial, Health Care, Memphis, Tenn.
Bass Berry & Sims Good Government Committee, Nashville, Tenn.
BeneVive Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn.
Blalock Equipment Corp., Sevierville, Tenn.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tenn., Chattanooga, Tenn.
Books-A-Million, Birmingham, Ala.
Boult Cummings Political Fund, Nashville, Tenn.
BP North America Corp., Chicago, Ill.
Bridgestone America Corp., Nashville, Tenn.
Brown-Forman Corp., Louisville, Ky.
Butler Snow PAC, Jackson, Miss.
Capella Healthcare Inc., Franklin, Tenn.
Catholic Health Part, Cincinnati, Ohio.
CBL & Associates Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn.
Charles Blalock & Sons, Sevierville, Tenn.
Check Into Cash Inc., Cleveland, Tenn.
Check-Up PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
City Corp., Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Clayton Bank & Trust, Knoxville, Tenn.
Clinard Engineering, Brentwood, Tenn.
CMH Services Inc., Maryville, Tenn.
Comcast Corp., Memphis, Tenn.
Community Health Sys Professional Services, Franklin, Tenn.
ConocoPhillips Corp., Houston, Texas.
CORPAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Corrections Corporation of America, Nashville, Tenn.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Lebanon, Tenn.
Cryosurgery Inc., Nashville, Tenn.
Decanter Diversified Machine Inc., Johnson City, Tenn.
Decanter Machine Inc., Johnson City, Tenn.
Delta Dental Plan PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Denark Construction, Knoxville, Tenn.
DesignSensory, Knoxville, Tenn.
Domtar Industries Inc., Fort Mill, S.C.
Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence Inc., Nashville, Tenn.
Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, Tenn.
EnergySolutions Corp., Salt Lake City, Utah.
Farris Matthews PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Federal Express Corp., Germantown, Tenn.
First Tennessee Bank, Memphis, Tenn.
Florence & Hutcheson Inc., Paducah, Ky.
Franklin American Mortgage Co., Franklin, Tenn.
GeoTech Inc., Paducah, Ky.
HCA Inc., Nashville, Tenn.
Healthways Inc., Franklin, Tenn.
Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., Hemlock, Mich.
Hewlett Packard, Palo Alto, Calif.
Highways Inc., Brentwood, Tenn.
Housing Industry PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Impact Plastics Inc., Erwin, Tenn.
Infrastructure Corp., Brentwood, Tenn.
Ingram Industries Inc., Nashville, Tenn.
J & G Investments Inc., Johnson City, Tenn.
John Bouchard & Sons Co., Nashville, Tenn.
John Deere Inc., Moline, Ill.
King Pharmaceuticals Inc., Bristol, Tenn.
Land Title PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Landair Transport Inc., Greeneville, Tenn.
Lisega Inc., Newport, Tenn.
Medtronic Inc., Memphis, Tenn.
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Whitehouse Station, N.J.
Methodist Le Bonheur, Memphis, Tenn.
Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.
Mid-South Carpenters, Nashville, Tenn.
Miller & Martin PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Mountain States Health Alliance, Johnson City, Tenn.
National Health Corp., Murfreesboro, Tenn.
National Health Corp., Murfreesboro, Tenn.
National Healthcare Corp., Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Natural Electric Co. Inc., Johnson City, Tenn.
Newport Paving, Newport, Tenn.
Next Generation Underwriters Inc., Hendersonville, Tenn.
NFIB, Nashville, Tenn.
Nissan North America Inc., Franklin, Tenn.
Noranda Intermediate Holding Corp., Franklin, Tenn.
Norfolk Southern Corp., Montgomery, Ala.
Novartis Corp., Kingsport, Tenn.
Olin Corp., Charleston, Tenn.
Packaging Corporation of America, Counce, Tenn.
Palmer Engineering, Winchester, Ky.
Pfizer Inc., Franklin, Tenn.
Piedmont Natural Gas, Charlotte, NC
Pilot Corpville, Tenn.
Plumbers & Pipefitters Committee, Nashville, Tenn.
Powell Construction Inc., Johnson City, Tenn.
Powell Erectors Inc., Johnson City, Tenn.
Preston Tool & Mold Inc., Erwin, Tenn.
Ray Bell Construction, Brentwood, Tenn.
Regal Entertainment Group, Knoxville, Tenn.
Regionalcare Hospital ParTenners Inc., Brentwood, Tenn.
Regions Bank Corp., Birmingham, Ala.
Robinsongreen PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Rural/Metro Corp., Scottsdale, Ariz.
RW Armstrong, Indianapolis, Ind.
Servicemaster, Memphis, Tenn.
Shared Health, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Sherman Dixie, Nashville, Tenn.
South College, Knoxville, Tenn.
Southern Diversified Business Services Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn.
State Farm Mutual Insurance Co., Atlanta, Ga.
Stowers Machinery Corp., Knoxville, Tenn.
Strongwell Corp., Bristol, Va.
Suntrust Bank Corp., Knoxville, Tenn.
Tenn Health Care Association PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Thompson Engineering Inc., Mobile, Ala.
TIS Insurance Services Inc., Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee Bankers Association PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Chiropractic Association PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Hospital Association, Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Information Cons. Corp., Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Laborers’ PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Medical Association, Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Realtors, Nashville, Tenn.
Tennessee Road Builders Association, Nashville, Tenn.
Tristar Division, Nashville, Tenn.
U.S. Xpress Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn.
United Healthcare Services Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.
Unum Group Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn.
USEC Inc., Piketon, Ohio.
Volkert Inc., Mobile, Ala.
Volkswagen Group of America Inc., Herndon, Va.
Wacker Chemical Corp., Adrian, Mich.
Waller Lansden PAC, Nashville, Tenn.
West Virginia Machine & Supply Inc., Beckley, W.Va.
White Realty & Service Corp., Knoxville, Tenn.
Wilbur Smith Association, Columbia, S.C.
Wine & Spirits TN PAC, Jackson, Tenn.
Wright Brothers Construction Inc., Charleston, Tenn.
Source: Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance