NASHVILLE — Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann came out on top among Tennessee's nine congressmen on political fundraising during the third quarter with a campaign war chest totaling $1.6 million for the 2020 elections, according to federal filings.
The five-term Ooltewah congressman, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, reported contributions of $238,338 in July 1-Sept. 30 disclosure to the Federal Election Commission for the 2020 campaign cycle.
"Our team will ensure Congressman Fleischmann is well prepared for victory in November 2020, as he seeks to continue serving the people of the Third District and [works] alongside President Trump to deliver results for the people he represents," Dalton Temple of consulting firm Hill City Strategies said in a statement.
After spending $57,191, Fleischmann reported having $1,607,609 in cash on hand on Sept. 30. Disclosures were due to the FEC last week.
Coming in at No. 2 on campaign cash in the bank was U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Memphis Democrat representing the 9th Congressional District. Cohen disclosed $101,450 in contributions, spending $16,253 and having $1.2 million on hand.
In adding having the most money on hand, Fleischmann's nearly quarter-million-dollar haul last quarter was also the most raised by anyone in the Tennessee House delegation.
Much of Fleischmann's haul came from the north end of the 3rd Congressional District, which is home to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Y-12 National Security Complex and other U.S. Department of Energy operations.
Executives and contractors there dug into their pockets to give as they have for 3rd District incumbents for decades. For example, a political action committee funded by executives at Jacobs Engineering Group, involved in the massive environmental cleanup at the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, gave $10,000 to the congressman's re-election effort.
Other donors included James Haslam II, founder and chairman of Pilot Flying J Travel Centers and father of former Gov. Bill Haslam. The elder Haslam gave $2,800 to Fleischmann as did his wife, Natalie Haslam.
Fleischmann's local donors included Walden Security CEO Amy Walden, whose Chattanooga-based family firm has a number of federal contracts. Walden contributed $2,800. Gregg Gentry, chief administrative officer of Erlanger Health Services, gave $250. And former Arkansas governor and two-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee contributed $5,000 through his political action committee.
Fleischmann's quarterly expenditures included $15,000 in fees paid to Nashville-based Baker Group Strategies, headed by Ward Baker. A top political consultant who spearheaded now-Republican U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn's successful 2018 campaign, Baker during the 2016 election cycle served as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The congressman is paying Baker's firm $5,000 a month.
FEC records as of Sunday showed no one filing so far to run against Fleischmann in 2020.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg Republican in the largely rural and sprawling 4th Congressional District, ranked last in terms of money raised by Tennessee House members during the quarter, reporting $39,100.
But the five-term incumbent, who spent $20,412 during the period, reported still having $474,729 in cash on hand, making his war chest No. 4.
His top donors included Andrew Miller Jr., a wealthy GOP donor and sometimes-controversial figure who owns a venture capital firm. In 2016, Miller paid out $7.75 million to settle allegations he and his brother defrauded a federal military health care program through their pharmaceutical business in Florida, The Tennessean has reported.
DesJarlais also reported a $500 contribution from Michael Inman, CEO of The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville. The congressman's district includes Shelbyville, the center of the walking horse industry. But the industry been under fire for controversial soring practices. DesJarlais, along with Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Blackburn, has sponsored legislation to protect the industry.
Two self-employed horse trainers, Frank Eichler of Shelbyville and Nancy Groover of Waco, Texas, respectively gave $1,000 and $2,500 to the congressman.
Across Tennessee's border in Georgia's 14th Congressional District, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia reported raising $135,481 from third quarter donors. He spent $136,256 and reported having $2.23 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
His individual donors included Quicken Loans Chief Financial Officer Julie Booth of Michigan, who gave $2,000, and Atlanta-based Terry Coleman Consulting LLC, which contributed $250. The bulk of Graves' contributions came from PACs, including $2,500 from the Bank Policy Institute PAC and $2,500 from the American Dental Association PAC.
Other Tennessee congressmen
The delegation's only other Democrat, Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville in the 5th Congressional District, was third highest in terms of money in the bank. Cooper reported raising $90,165, spending $72,872 and had a $797,939 cash balance at the end of the reporting period.
Coming in at No. 5, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. David Kustoff of Memphis reported raising $130,575 and spending $150,813, leaving him with a $464,446 cash balance in his 8th Congressional District re-election effort.
Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, a former Knox County mayor representing the state's 2nd Congressional District, disclosed raising $160,492 and spending $86,965. The $393,824 he had tucked away in the bank made him sixth when it came to cash on hand.
Another freshman GOP lawmaker from the Tennessee's 6th Congressional District, U.S. John Rose of Cookeville, reported raising $87,285 and spending $102,482. His $259,530 in cash on hand made his campaign war chest No. 7.
Republican U.S. Rep. Phil Roe of Johnson City in the 1st Congressional District reported raising $77,772 and spending $29,779. He had $241,749 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, putting him in eighth place.
While raising $130,054, freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Clarksville in the 7th Congressional District reported spending $99,971 in the third quarter. That left Green with a $38,055 cash balance, the lowest among delegation members.
Contact Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.