Gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam’s campaign responds. The Prowler replies. Plus: Scott Brown’s independent streak. Tiger brainwashed. Ron Paul’s party. Obamacare, and more.
CANDIDATE BILL HASLAM
Re: The Washington Prowler’s Tea Party Tennessee:
A recent article titled “Tea Party Tennessee” included many false statements and mischaracterizations regarding the Tennessee gubernatorial race taking place this year. Because a good portion of that article was about one of the candidates — Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam — it would seem prudent to contact his campaign to fact check or for comment prior to the article’s release, something your publication failed to do.
The article stated that Mayor Haslam gave his campaign “millions of his family money” and “opened his checkbook for the ad buys.” This is completely untrue. Mayor Haslam has outraised every candidate in the race more than 2 to 1, while only donating the $5,000 maximum any individual can give during the election cycle. This total donation is far less than the loans and contributions of some of the other candidates to their own campaigns, including the $61,000 Congressman Wamp loaned to his effort — something your article fails to mention. The Bill Haslam for Governor campaign’s recent television advertising purchase was paid for by money raised from more than 7,300 contributions we’ve received from folks across the state, not from “family money” or “his checkbook” as your article suggests.
The article also dubs Haslam a “moderate to liberal establishment” candidate and Wamp the grassroots candidate. Mayor Haslam is a life-long conservative who is pro-life, pro-family, a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and a champion of fiscal restraint. And with all due respect to Congressman Wamp, the Tea Party folks we talk to tell us that a career politician from Washington, D.C. who voted for the Wall Street bailout is unlikely to be their candidate of choice.
Furthermore, the article mentioned “most polls” having the Congressman in the lead, but the poll you are referring to was a single poll conducted by the Congressman’s own campaign more than 8 months ago. The Congressman himself just finished his “announcement tour,” so the race is only now beginning to heat up. Conventional wisdom has been that Mayor Haslam is the frontrunner for the nomination because he’s significantly outraised the other candidates, was the first to visit all 95 counties, has established the largest grassroots leadership team, and was the first to take his campaign to the airwaves. We’re comfortable letting the voters sort it out come August.
Finally, the article consistently used unnamed sources to
make incredible claims about the beliefs of the Mayor and large
groups of people that would probably prefer to speak for
themselves. Suggesting that “national conservatives” feel a
certain way without naming a single such person, or using an
unnamed source to relay how the Mayor supposedly feels, or
suggesting that another unnamed source represents the beliefs of
an entire state political party not only led you to make
inaccurate statements in your article, it suggests a general lack
of professionalism and adherence to basic journalistic
— David Smith
Bill Haslam for Governor
Mr. Smith should be excused for the above letter, as he is probably new to the Haslam campaign. How else to explain the inaccuracies, obfuscation, and confusion?
Mr. Smith appears to be terribly focused on Representative Wamp, when there are, in fact, two other fine Republicans in the race. Until recently, all three have been active on the campaign trail far more aggressively than Haslam. While perhaps the Haslam campaign believes there was some kind of political gamesmanship going on with the item (akin to how Haslam’s key adviser Tom Ingram uses his media contacts to gin up positive fluff pieces for his candidate), its purpose was essentially to highlight Haslam’s expensively — and Hollywood — produced advertisement. An ad that has now been criticized for misleading facts by Tennessee media reports.
My item said that Mr. Haslam, who has raised millions, opened his checkbook for the almost $1 million ad buy. The item did not state that it was a personal check. The campaign is well-financed, and has made no bones about it. And in Tennessee it is well known that the Haslam family is willing and able to commit personal funds to the campaign.
Mr. Smith’s response simply confirms what everyone else knows: that Haslam and his campaign are doing everything they can to hide what many perceived to be Haslam’s weakness: ties to a family oil and gas business (he continues to decline to release his income tax returns) that has been accused of price gouging its customers during difficult times.
But allow me to provide Mr. Smith with some background on his own candidate, since he doesn’t seem to know much about him.
First: Mr. Smith seems unaware that his boss was one of the first signatories to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun organization. Only after Haslam decided to run for governor did he remove his name from the list of members. The National Rifle Association, an organization known for supporting the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans, warned state and local officials about signing on to Bloomberg’s group. Second: Mr. Haslam, when running for mayor of Knoxville, was indeed happy to portray himself as a candidate who supported fiscal restraint. But then he got elected and raised Knoxville’s property tax rate.
Finally, Mr. Smith says with certainty that Mr. Haslam is pro-life. I wish Mr. Haslam could say so with the same conviction.
A SHALLOW CHARACTER
Re: Ben Stein’s The Manchurian Tiger:
I totally disagree with you. It is not OK for anyone to be lying and cheating especially when it has to do with wife and family. Trust is trust. If I can’t trust you with a little, how can I trust you with a lot? Thus it is especially not OK for icons and role models in the American society to be lying and cheating and violating trust. Tiger was built up as a talented, hard working, and honest athlete. His reputation combined with his relentless pursuit of perfection and his resulting winning ways made him the icon he is today. Tiger’s work ethic and proper demeanor won numerous new fans to the PGA Tour. This brought new sponsors and tons of new money to the tour. The purses are bigger than ever. The number of tournaments exceeds anything in the past. Children who never considered golf now play golf. People from every tribe, tongue, and nation now play golf because Tiger broke the race barrier. He was the float that all other boats were anchored to. But his bubble burst when we not only found out he lies and cheats on the most important task he has in life, the tending and keeping of his marriage and family vows, but he turned out to be a perverted sex addict.