NASHVILLE - A former Franklin County Republican Party chairman is questioning whether expenditures made by state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, in December from his state campaign account really were intended to boost his upcoming 4th Congressional District bid against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
But Tracy, R-Shelbyville, said many of his estimated $80,000 in expenditures in November were related to a Dec. 22 Murfreesboro pancake breakfast designed to introduce himself to new constituents in his redrawn state district as well as benefit the Toys for Tots program.
"There's really no story here, zero," said Tracy, who announced he was running for Congress on Jan. 2. "I do something for my constituents every year. Last year we decided to do a Christmas breakfast and do something for Toys for Tots. It was just people in my Senate district, the 14th Senatorial District. Remember, I had new counties."
Tracy said he did a "lot more listening than talking" at the event and noted in previous years he had held tailgate parties outside Middle Tennessee State University football games.
Last month, former Franklin County GOP Chairman Mike Hart, a DesJarlais supporter, raised questions about Tracy's December expenditures in a Winchester Herald Chronicle op/ed.
He pointed to $10,000 that Tracy paid out of his state campaign account to Florida-based Majority Strategies for a survey as well as $34,766 to the same firm in December. The $34,766 were for cards and mail invitations to the event, according to Tracy's 4th quarter state disclosure. Tracy said he also paid the political direct mail firm for Christmas cards for constituents.
All the payments were made weeks or days in advance of Tracy's Jan. 2 announcement that he was running against DesJarlais.