Image Credit: Blount County Chamber of Commerce
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Last week, we ran a story about the Blount County Chamber of Commerce compiling profiles of all the candidates running for office in 2022.
For a candidate’s profile to be shared with the community via social media and the Chamber of Commerce’s website, candidates were required to complete a list of questions to be submitted no later than Friday, March 11th.
As Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is all the rage in many corporate circles right now, one of the questions stands out among the standard faire posed in the questionnaire.
Sandwiched between questions about a candidate’s ‘Top Three Priorities for small businesses’ and ‘what a candidate hopes to accomplish as an elected official’ is the question, “What kinds of policies, if any, will you pursue to promote Social and Racial Justice in our Community?”
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On Friday, East Tennessean Mark Pulliam, contributing editor to Law & Liberty and blogger at Misrule of Law, shared with The Tennessee Conservative that Blount County’s Elections Administrator, Susan Knopf, has sent emails to candidates encouraging them to fill out the Chamber’s questionnaire.
Pulliam said, “I have been a vocal critic of Bryan Daniels, the Blount Partnership, and the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, which exert undue influence in local politics and regard themselves as de facto policymakers; elected officials hold the title but the establishment calls the shots.
The Chamber’s politics, under Bryan Daniels, lean to the left. I alerted media outlets to the controversial candidate questionnaire (“what would you do to promote racial and social justice?”) the Chamber was asking local candidates to fill out.
Well, it is even worse than I thought. Blount County’s Elections Administrator, Susan Knopf, has sent a couple of emails to candidates encouraging them to fill out the Chamber’s questionnaire! This is totally inappropriate. The Chamber/Blount Partnership views the Elections Commission as an errand boy for Bryan Daniels.”
The emails from Blount County’s Elections Administrator, Susan Knopf reads as follows:
I am forwarding this email to you from the Chamber of Commerce. There is a link for you to participate in their profiles / questionnaire. If you have any questions, please contact Tammi – firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and enjoy your weekend! – Susan
The Blount County Chamber of Commerce is compiling profiles of all the candidates running for office in 2022. We ask that you complete this short questionnaire so the information can be shared with the community via social media and the website. Deadline for submission is March 11.
I am reaching out to you, once again, to remind you of the upcoming deadline tomorrow, Friday, March 11 for the Chamber’s Candidate questionnaire. Below is the first email sent to you last week. If you have already responded to this questionnaire, please disregard it, and thank you.
I am simply the middle-“woman” relaying these messages. In order to take me out of the loop because we’re busily preparing for your election, I would ask that you respond to the chamber at email@example.com with your name, phone number, and email address. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Thank you and have a great day!
When Pulliam found out about the email from Knopf, he sent the following email to her, cc’ing The Tennessee Conservative, among others:
Subject Line: Blount County Chamber of Commerce Wants Political Candidates To Get Woke – Tennessee Conservative
Why are you encouraging local candidates to participate in the Chamber’s controversial candidate questionnaire? Were you directed to do so? If so, by whom? The Blount County Elections Commission should remain strictly neutral in all respects, avoiding any affiliation with or assistance to any organization seeking to influence the election, regardless of partisan status. The Chamber is not your employer; the residents of Blount County are. You should not be doing errands for the Chamber, using County resources. Candidate questionnaires are not within the purview of the Elections Commission in any event. This is very poor judgment on your part.
Pulliam said, “This is why we need to drain the swamp in Blount County. Our local officials have lost sight of who they work for.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com