GOP sees no conflict in Haslam call for education reform, hosting of party fundraiser

GOP sees no conflict in Haslam call for education reform, hosting of party fundraiser

March 22nd, 2011 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Ron Ramsey

NASHVILLE - A spokesman for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he sees no conflict between Haslam's call for bipartisan cooperation on education reform and the governor's hosting of a major Tennessee Republican Party fundraiser this month.

"Education reform is a bipartisan issue, and Tennessee is at the epicenter of this effort nationally," Haslam spokesman David Smith said. "When there are opportunities for both parties to work together to advance our state, which is the case in education, the governor is committed to doing that."

But Smith said "at the same time, he is the head of the Republican party in Tennessee, and it is appropriate for him to support the party."

Former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, said Monday he found it ironic that Haslam, who over the weekend called for more bipartisan cooperation, is hosting the fundraiser.

According to a copy of an event ticket, obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, political high rollers will shell out $3,000 to $25,000 for two to attend the "Leadership Forum 2011" and Statesmen's Dinner.

The $25,000 gets two participants into a smaller "Governor's Circle Roundtable" with Haslam and bestows "priority seating and benefits" at the two other events. Roundtable participants get to ask the governor questions.

The fundraiser will be held in the executive residence's Conservation Hall.