The election is over, here is what happens next:
Dear TFA Members,
The election is over!
I want to share some success stories with you, and then I am going to tell you where we go from here.
First off, I wholeheartedly believe that Thursday night was a success even though not all of the candidates I favored won their races.
HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS:
- Our hero in the Senate, Mae Beavers, won her race by a huge margin even though the Establishment was determined to strike her down with dirty tricks and lies!
- Our star candidate from 2012, first term Representative Lt. Col. Courtney Rogers, held on to her seat by a large margin too even after Debra Maggart tried to taste revenge!
- Representative Vance Dennis from Savannah, TN, and who had worked behind the scenes to kill pro-gun including cooperating with Rep. Joshua Evans to kill the safe commute bill a few years ago, was handily defeated by TFA backed David Byrd!
- Other candidates that TFA supported including Terri Lynn Weaver, Shelia Butt, Micah Van Huss, even if they were targets of the Establishment, won their races.
You see Bill Haslam, Diane Black, Ron Ramsey and other Establishment Republicans used every trick in the book to take on Senator Beavers and Representative Rogers. However, their successful and substantial re-elections have proven that the Establishment in Tennessee is not quite as powerful as they want us to think. It also proves that “We the People” can beat back the Establishment even if its funded with Bill Haslam’s fortunes and those of Big Business.
Senator Beavers and Representative Rogers do not bend to the wishes of Speaker Beth Harwell, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, or Governor Bill Haslam. They truly stand on constitutional principles and stewardship and for that reason the Establishment went after them hard… but in the end the Establishment failed.
The big race that I was focused on this year was against anti-gun 18-year incumbent Rep. Charles Sargent.
TFA member and local entrepreneur Steve Gawrys ran an amazing race against Representative Sargent. TFA was out in force fighting against Mr. Sargent who lied and obfuscated, and tried every dirty trick in the book to retain his seat. He managed to get both Marsha Blackburn and Bill Haslam to robocall for him. He even went so far as to call voters and beg for their vote so that he would get his 20 year taxpayer funded pension if re-elected. He misrepresented his voting record. What gall!
The race ended Thursday night with a difference based on unofficial vote count of 254 votes in Sargent’s favor. There were 8,552 total votes cast in that race meaning a razor thin margin of 2.97%. However, because Sargent and his Establishment cronies were willing to play dirty, we are not putting ANYTHING past them. The Gawrys campaign is demanding an audit or recount to ensure there was no “funny business.” We have to fight the kinds of dirty tricks that Thad Cochran used in Mississippi to win the race with crossover votes and Big Business pressure on the voters.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of the Gawrys race in the next few days, gun owners across Tennessee were victorious in causing serious pain to the anti-gun Establishment Republicans and their candidate. Remember Charles Sargent killed pro-gun bills at the request of Governor Haslam and Speaker Harwell while openly lying about his support of the Second Amendment.
Mr. Sargent being an 18-year incumbent and nearly unseated by an upstart candidate, while outspending Mr. Gawrys at least 3:1, just goes to show that serious political pain was inflicted upon him. Charles Sargent had to call out every political favor he could find in an effort to keep his seat and he still almost lost. And, he may still lose if some of the reports regarding problems with the accuracy of the preliminary vote count are confirmed as true.
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED?
The establishment is getting weaker.
The people at the top can’t protect the minions who do their hatchet work at the Capitol. In 2012 they were not able to protect Rep. Maggart when we worked to defeat her, they weren’t able to protect Rep. Vance Dennis this year, and they were just barely able to protect Rep. Charles Sargent. The writing is on the wall.
Grassroots conservatives (the TFA in specific) on the other hand are trending upwards.
The Tennessee Firearms Association is building for the future and we are planning for the long term. We are growing, expanding, and gaining more muscle to flex during legislative session.
It is no longer business as usual in Nashville because we are slowly but surely turning the tide. We want to work with legislators who take their sworn oaths to protect and the defend the constitution seriously. However, we are willing to identify those who violate their oaths so that the voters will know the real truth and not just be expected to vote on some misleading grades or misleading claims based on a single bill or vote.
We taught the big-government Establishment a lesson Thursday night… they can no longer run over us without a fight. We taught them that 2012 was not a fluke. We taught them a new word - “Maggartized.”
We are holding them accountable and as we grow they become weaker. As Second Amendment and constitutional supporters from around the state band together under the TFA banner we will continue to see more and more results in our favor.
As one political saying goes “Politicians see the light when they feel the pain” and I am here to tell you that we dished out a lot of pain - intentionally - last Thursday!
SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
While we are getting closer to long term victory we are not quite there yet.
This means we will likely have a very tough legislative session next year in 2015. We are already preparing and planning our strategy for going up against the anti-gun Establishment legislators, and those who would carry their water. We know that they are probably going to dig in their heels and try to stop legislation just because TFA supports it. Indeed, Rep. Jeremy Faison has made that statement on his own Facebook page! Imagine that, legislators who are willing to violate their constitutional oaths to the people just because they are increasingly mad at or even fearing the TFA.
In the mean time we have a few things in the works that you will want to know about:
- The TFA is planning a fall banquet. We will have a guest speaker that will excite you. More details will be announced about that in the near future.
- We will likely be holding another political training session prior to legislative session. We want you to be brought up to speed on what we are doing. The more ‘hands on deck’, the more effective we are in our fight.
- More local TFA chapters will start to pop up across the state. Look for chapters coming soon in Chattanooga, Cookeville, Tri-Cities, Clarksville, and a few other places.
Even though it has been a busy year, we are still going at full steam. There is a lot to do in order to win back our right to keep and bear arms. But we are up to the task and ask you to continue fighting in the trenches with us. Victory is ours for the taking.
*If you are not currently a member of the Tennessee Firearms Association, PLEASE become a member
Haslam Admin Scandal Uncovered By TFA Open Records Request
After a series of ‘Open Records Requests’, the Tennessee Firearms Association has uncovered manipulation of the fiscal note process in the Tennessee legislature as a way to kill legislation that Governor Haslam and his Administration opposed.
In an effort to kill the open carry bill late in the 2014 session (HB2409), a Haslam administration official, Bill Hedge, citing departmental policy placed a fiscal note of $100,000 on the bill claiming passage would cost the government to add the word “concealed” on TN handgun carry permits. This phoney fiscal note was used as justification for Representative Charles Sargent’s Finance, Ways and Means Committee to kill the bill even though it had dozens of sponsors.
The fiscal note added by the Administration claimed that the open carry bill would cost the state government $100k by requiring that the word concealed be added to every valid handgun permit in Tennessee. However, the bill itself had no such requirement, and in fact an amendment to the bill was added specifically prohibiting this cost (HA1127).
Who made this decision?
Bill Hedge, Fiscal Director of the TN Department of Safety, made the decision to add the word ‘concealed’ to the HCP. He made this decision unilaterally and in direct violation of the legislative intent. The first version of the bill would indeed have required such a change, however, upon realizing a $100k fiscal note, legislators added amendment HA1127 to the bill thus removing the requirement for the change in language on the HCP. This meant that the state government would no long incur any cost if this bill were to pass and become law.
But as you can see in the below e-mail that we uncovered from Mr. Hedge where this amendment is discussed, he decides to compleely ignore the legislative directive:
By Policy? Whose Policy?
Mr. Hedge cites departmental “policy” as a justification for making this change. He then further justifies it by saying that he wants “to accurately reflect the privileges of the handgun permit carrier when traveling out of State of TN….”, but this change did not accomplish that. Mr. Hedge acknowledged that an individual within the state of TN has the ability to carry openly. Adding the word ‘concealed’ to the permit only adds confusion as to what a police officer in another state would assume a Tennessee resident would be allowed to do within the state of TN.
When the TFA pressed the DoS to cite the policy that they claimed existed, the response was shocking: No such policy actually existed!
The words “We feel it is in the public interest” is indicitive of bureaucrats overstepping their bounds and becoming de facto legislators. Bureaucrats do not set policy, their function is to help execute policy; not make it. Nonetheless, this proves there was no actual requirement to add the word ‘concealed’ to Handgun Carry Permits existed AND that the Department of Safety manufactured their own policy (that doesn’t exist) out of thin air.
$100k charge to add one word?
This is of course before consideration of it even being reasonable for the state to incur $100k to add the word ‘concealed’ on each handgun carry permit, regardless of such a dubious change even being proper. The Open Records Request by the TFA has also uncovered language in the contract between the State of Tennessee and L-1 Secure Credentialing, Inc. (the vendor that prints DL’s and HCP’s for the state) that indicates no charge should have ever occurred.
The language is clear that by producing a wide range of templates, it will be possible to make “changes and additions” to the cards at no additional charge. Yet, the DoS claims a cost of $100k for a third party contractor to type one word on a HCP template.
Department of Safety documents do not reference this contract in discussing the $100k estimate by Hedge nor do they detail why it would cost $100k other than a response from the vendor.
How is Haslam involved?
Apart from members of his administration manufacturing this false fiscal note, Haslam has taken every conceivable position on Open Carry in the state of Tennessee, but is now clearly against it. At a TFA meeting in 2010, Bill Haslam pledged to sign Constitutional Carry into law if it ever got to his desk. Of course, he’s not forced to make good on that promise if he can get Charles Sargent’s Finance, Ways and Means committee to kill it for him.
On top of the Pro-Constitutional Carry stance that Mr. Haslam promised in 2010, he has also taken a “neutral stance” on the current legislation in question:
We already knew by Mr. Haslam’s actions that he is against open carry, but now we have also heard it directly from his Administration.
The documents show that the Haslam Administration was actively fighting the bill and that the Department of Safety was used to create a fiscal note necessary to have this bill killed in committee.
TFA’s continued efforts
The Tennessee Firearms Association will continue to work on behalf of gun rights in this state. The results of our open records document review project are sobering and disturbing. We must keep the pressure on these politicians who claim to represent the right to keep and bear arms, but then get elected and fight us behind the scenes.
Unfortunately these open record requests do come at a cost.
This project of discovering what our legislators and government officials are up to cost us hundreds of dollars in unexpected copying and research fees (nearly 3,000 pages worth). And quite frankly, our intern gets paid a small amount for his hard work. If you appreciate the TFA keeping you informed about these kind of behind-the-scenes antics, we ask that you please chip-in just a few dollars to help defray the costs of our discovery. You can make your most generous contribution here.
Finally, if you like the fact that the TN Firearms Association serves as a watchdog over the government and keeps gun owners informed, please join us and become a member by clicking here.
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