Tenn. lawmakers hold last-minute campaign fundraisers prior to in-session ban on Tuesday

Tenn. lawmakers hold last-minute campaign fundraisers prior to in-session ban on Tuesday

January 9th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Politics State

Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam addresses the General Assembly in a joint, special session to kick off debate on the Insure Tennessee Medicaid plan on Monday Feb. 2, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Tennessean, Shelley Mays)

Photo by Shelley Mays

NASHVILLE - A number of Tennessee legislators and party caucuses were seeking to "beat the clock" today and early Tuesday and hold final political fundraisers prior to the state's annual in-session ban on accepting contributions.

The black-out period takes effect at noon Tuesday when the 110th General Assembly convenes.

House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, a potential 2018 candidate for governor, held a $2,500 per person or political action committee event earlier today, according to legislators and lobbyists.

Later this afternoon, the 74-member House Republican Caucus and five-member Senate Democratic Caucus hold their respective pre-session fundraisers. 

Newly elected House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, holds a fundraiser as does his immediate predecessor,  former Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who was scheduled to hold a separate event for his campaign.

Other Tennessee lawmakers said to be holding fundraisers today or tomorrow include:

* House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, who is weighing a 2018 gubernatorial bid.
* Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville.
* Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston.
* Freshman Rep. Mark Lovell, R-Eads.
* House Democratic Caucus members hold their event Tuesday prior to the new General Assembly convening.
* Senate State and Local Committee Chairman Ken Yager, R-Harriman, holds his fundraiser Tuesday morning.
* Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, holds a fundraiser Tuesday as well.

Incoming Senate Speaker Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, held a $10,000 per person event for his McPAC last week.

State legislators banned their acceptance of campaign contributions during their legislative session back in 1996. That came amid criticism representatives and senators were raising money from special interests even as the elected officials were voting on legislation impacting those same entities.

But contributors can and do give right up until the House and Senate convene at noon Tuesday.

Meanwhile, some lobbyists are continuing the age-old tradition here by personally delivering last-minute campaign checks written by persons or entities they represent to legislators' offices.

That's legal too under state law. But lobbyists themselves can no longer personally contribute under a 2006 law.

After lawmakers convene Tuesday, where they will be sworn in and elect the House and Senate speakers, the traditional parade of legislative receptions begins.

That kicks off with AT&T's traditional opening day event beginning at 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the AT&T Tower, according to an invitation from the telecommunications giant and AT&T President Joelle Phillips.

The company is paying for complimentary shuttle buses to get the 99 representatives and 33 senators to the event.