Limited Government

EXCLUSIVE: In Bid to Stop Judicial Election Corruption in Tennessee, #JustABlogger Files Complaints against 3 Supremes, Others

A United Liberty contributor alleges that three Tennessee Supreme Court justices, who all face statewide retention elections this summer, have violated state resource use laws, campaign finance and expenditure laws, and have willfully misled voters about the purpose of their campaigns, and that they have been abetted by others, including the vice chair of the state board that oversees judicial conduct.

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary R. Wade (seated) with (left to right) Justice Janice Holder, Justice Sharon Lee, Justice William Koch, and Justice Cornelia Clark (Source: TNcourts.gov)

Earlier today I filed signed and notarized copies of the complaints below under the Tennessee Code of Judicial Conduct — the judiciary’s own rules governing the professional conduct of those on the bench — with Timothy R. Discenza, Disciplinary Counsel, of the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. The documents have been partially redacted to protect personal information.

TN Appellate Court Judge Bennett, Backed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Wade, Used Other States’ Caselaw to Justify Opinions

The month of May has turned rocky for the Chief Justice of the Volunteer State’s highest court, after the Board of Judicial Conduct finally released a letter, in a Friday news dump before Memorial Day Weekend, warning him against making political endorsements.


Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Andy Bennett attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville for undergraduate and law school. / gettyimages.com

Tennessee’s serpentine and secretive attorney oversight and disciplinary body, the Board of Professional Responsibility, is presently investigating Nashville-area lawyers Connie Reguli and Nathan Moore. Connie Reguli previously sued the Board under the Tennessee Public Records Act for copies of documents containing information about her, but Court of Appeals Judge Richard Dinkins cleverly snuck a unilateral and unconstitutional exemption to the Public Records Act for the Board in his opinion in Connie Reguli v. James Vick, Lela Hollobaugh, and Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which United Liberty covered recently:

United Liberty Reporting Helps Force Nashville TV News Personality to Cover Judicial Ethics Investigation

The Board of Judicial Conduct has failed to acknowledge a citizen request for investigation documents while granting access to friendly media; the Board may not even be opening, much less reading, mail correspondence from ordinary Tennessee citizens.


The Tennessee judiciary seems bent on holding records requests under water, like Nashville was during the great flood of 2010, until those requests stop kicking.

United Liberty’s coverage of the Tennessee judiciary’s internal investigation into the ethical conduct of sitting Supreme Court Justice Gary R. Wade has helped force local media to take up coverage of the issue.

Tennessee Deputy AG Comments on Request for Chief Justice Gary Wade’s Ethics Investigation Records; Questions Remain

A letter from a Tennessee Deputy Attorney General noted two practical, procedural errors with a recent records request submitted to the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court, but left a door open for further questions of law, jurisdiction, and state employee competence.


ABC’s “Nashville” may have put the Music City back on the map, but don’t shine the spotlight on the Supreme Court, say government bodies.

The very day after United Liberty published a story last week on the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s denial of my lawful request for copies of records relating to an investigation of the sitting Chief Justice Gary R. Wade’s professional ethics, and my subsequent discovery that an appellate court judge in 2013 seems to have presumptively and unilaterally exempted the judiciary from the state’s Public Records Act without statutory or constitutional authority to do so, Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter sent a letter to me via email. Deputy General Kleinfelter’s letter notes two practical, procedural errors with my original request, but she did little to alleviate concerns of foul play in the judiciary that arose out of the original document request process and subsequent correspondence with Tennessee’s Open Records Counsel Elisha Hodge.

EXCLUSIVE: Tennessee Supreme Court Stonewalls Request for Records Investigating Chief Justice Gary Wade’s Professional Ethics

In a 2013 decision, an appellate court judge* unilaterally exempted the judiciary from provisions of state transparency laws, and the Tennessee Constitution, with no statutory or constitutional authority to do so, reversing over 20 years of established case law.

Massie Drops Two Bills in Defense of Raw Milk Distribution

raw milk

Farmers across America continue to be harassed and fined for distributing unprocessed milk. This has been a problem to hard-working American families even before former congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced his Unpasteurized Raw Milk Bill, HR 1830, in 2011.

Now, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) has announced he is dropping two separate bills addressing the same issues with the goal of restoring the farmers’ right to distribute milk, and the consumer’s right to choose what he or she wants to put in their own bodies.

Dairy farmers across the country find themselves in trouble with the law over the Food and Drug Administration’s strict guidelines, which end up pushing the raw milk business to the sidelines, turning it into a black market and thus increasing the risks associated with the poor processing quality. When laws are too strict, farmers can no longer make use of the protection of an open market where they compete freely. Consumers are the ones who lose.

While many doctors continue to defend the reasons why people may prefer to drink raw milk, many others will say that raw milk is in fact hazardous and must be kept from consumers, for their own good.

While the open debate is always important, banning a consumer item solely on the premises that it may eventually cause somebody harm is just not compatible with living in a free society, where individuals are aware they might have to face certain risks every now and then but are also entirely free to opt out.

Obama set to use pen to control worker salaries

When President Obama started talking about getting around Congress with his phone and his pen, we all knew it was not going to end well. Increasing the minimum wage for government contractors hasn’t really had a chance to show any ill effects, so it makes sense that the president is already leaping into fair labor regulations, to start causing havoc in private industry.

The current cause is to force employers to pay overtime to salaried workers. There are already exemptions based on income that would possibly come into play, but they haven’t been adjusted for inflation on the Federal level since 2004. That said, there might be a valid argument to revisit those caps, but to force employers to pay overtime to salaried workers in general is not something any competent leader should consider in a soft job market.

Government increasing liabilities on businesses on a per employee basis is never a good idea when the economy needs private industry to be creating jobs. That is something that keeps getting lost in the shuffle for many reasons, but the two most obvious are the fact that the administration has changed the equations for determining the unemployment rate, and has reduced expectations for reasonable growth. What does that mean? It means that we don’t count people that have dropped out of the unemployment system into the welfare system, and the “new normal” is not really growth — it’s barely treading water.

Texas Candidates “Reject the Debt”

Debt Clock

Coming out of a brutal series of losses in last fall’s fiscal fights, budget hawks are facing tough odds.

Some commentators have gone as far as to say that fiscal restraint has been defeated in Congress, with the heyday of 2010 giving way to a situation in which those who want to cut spending and reign in looming deficits and debt have taken a “back seat.”

Have deficit hawks finally been defeated? Is big spending the new norm?

Not if a cadre of Texas candidates has anything to do with it.

On Monday, the Coalition to Reduce Spending announced that 14 candidates for federal office from across the state had signed the Coalition’s Reject the Debt pledge ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The pledge requires elected officials to (1) consider all spending open for reduction, (2) vote only for budgets with a path to balance, and (3) offset any new spending with cuts elsewhere.

The signatories include Tea Party favorites like Katrina Pierson and Matt McCall, in a diverse scattering of candidates from across the state. The Coalition has also been in touch with various third party and Democratic challengers and expects more candidates to jump on after the primary.

“Washington won’t change until we change the incentives of the people we send there,” Coalition President Jonathan Bydlak said. “Candidates have to hold themselves accountable, or we have to do it for them. I’m pleased to see this group willing to hold themselves to fiscal restraint.”

Time for a New Narrative on Food Stamps

Food Stamps (SNAP)

By this time, if you follow politics at all, chances are you’ve heard a lot about the farm bill. Passed Tuesday, this bill represents nearly $1 trillion in new spending, with typical promises for paltry reform over the next decade.

At risk of presumption, the problems with the farm portion are rather obvious. It’s no surprise that 85% of economists from across the ideological spectrum oppose farm subsidies. It seems commonly accepted that the “farm bill” long ago ceased to be a temporary relief for struggling family farmers and has instead become a hefty bonus check for some of the biggest corporate agriculture. For example, the richest farmers get the most subsidies, and just three firms received the most in sugar subsidies last year. And Tuesday’s bill did little to address these issues.

A program so misguided is easy to attack. But unfortunately, the farm portion is a very small part of the “farm” bill. And the other part backs people who want to save the next generation from massive debt into quite a tough corner.

Have some fries with that executive order

The All-Nite Images (CC)

Because ObamaCare is such a complete failure, the president is at least slightly welcoming the latest distraction to keep the masses from noticing that problem. Protestors took to the streets demanding that the government not only increase the minimum wage, but essentially double it. Of course, while that might seem like a nice idea for people that are barely making it by with low wage jobs, it would not work out very well for them in the end.

Forbes explored this issue at length a while ago, but their findings remain just as true today. Slight increases in the minimum wage have been shown to cause job losses, as companies downsize to absorb the increased costs of their labor force. One thing that has changed is the effect of ObamaCare on the situation. Many employers are already looking at cutting hours of low wage workers to avoid the increased costs of benefits for employees.

Liberals are demonizing this action, and are still demanding higher wages, while ignoring what should be obvious. Increased costs must be paid one way or another, whether by cutting labor costs, increasing prices for consumers, or a combination of the two. Since the latter is a likely solution for many companies that employ low wage workers, that would mean the continuation of a vicious cycle for the very people that liberals would hope to help by increasing the minimum wage in the first place.

Low wage workers tend to use the goods and services of companies like fast food restaurants and WalMart, so even if their wages are increased, it probably will not help them very much in the end. A pay raise doesn’t do much good if the price of goods and services goes up, too.

 


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