The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance has decided to audit the campaign of former District 27 State Senate candidate Gary Humble who lost to incumbent Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) by only a narrow margin.
The stated purpose of the audit is to make sure there was no illegal coordination between Humble’s campaign and the non-profit 501(c)(4) organization he runs, Tennessee Stands.
Humble stated that there would be zero reason to use the Tennessee Stands organization as a Political Action Committee as he already has a PAC, called Stand for Tennessee PAC.
Although there has been no tangible evidence presented or complaints filed against Humble’s campaign, Registry board member Tom Lawless called for the investigation on Wednesday.
Lawless is a Nashville banking lawyer who has served in the financial industry for roughly 32 years. Of note, Humble’s opponent, Jack Johnson, has held high positions in the banking industry for many years. He currently serves as StudioBank’s Senior Vice President.
Lawless said addressing the Registry, “There’s some smoke there, which usually means there’s something underneath that causes it to rise. And I just want you all to dig into it.”
Humble said in response, “Does that sound like what we know of to be the kind of justice system that we have here in America?… Let’s just go dig and see what we can find… which won’t be much, so dig away!”
Lawless stated that he believes Tennessee Stands engaged in activity after the cutoff time before the election that would put them at odds with legislation passed in the last session of the General Assembly, that Conservatives refer to as the “incumbent protection bill.”
Humble replied by stating that Tennessee Stands only spent $500 on a Facebook ad which occurred prior to July 1st.
During the meeting, registry board member Paz Hayne said he wanted to emphasize the audit was approved to find out more information and not because they presumed Humble had committed any infraction.
Lauren Topping, the general counsel for the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance, also expressed concerns about whether the audit would uncover the information the board was interested in finding.
However, the board unanimously voted to instruct the registry staff to audit Humble’s campaign.
Humble pointed out that it is odd that they chose to audit the campaign of the losing candidate, who spent five times less than the incumbent. He stated that they seem to have no interest in determining whether Jack Johnson’s campaign illegally coordinated with the three PACs that ran attacks against him, or possible coordination with the Speaker of the Senate, Randy McNally, and his use of his personal PAC to run attacks against Humble and his campaign.
Humble said, “This is Tennessee. This is the Tennessee Republican Party. This is Tennessee leadership using state administrations, using the power of the state to intimidate and punish their political opponents.”
“Jack Johnson, Randy McNally, Speaker Cameron Sexton, Governor Bill Lee, let me make sure you hear me very clearly. I am not intimidated in the least,” Humble said, “In fact, if this campaign taught me anything, it taught me exactly how weak you people are and if this attempt to use the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance to audit my campaign proves anything, it shows exactly how scared you are of the actions of the people. The fact that people now see you for who you are and are paying a lot of attention to everything that you’re doing now and everything that you’re saying. And frankly, everything that you’re NOT doing, the things that you ought to be doing to defend liberty here in this state.”
“If you think that for one moment things like this are going to intimidate me and cause me to go away and somehow diminish or lessen the impact of Tennessee Stands, you are sorely, sorely mistaken. If you think that for one moment that all of these people in Conservative groups across the state of Tennessee are going away, you’re crazy. Pay attention. People are awakened to what’s happening around us,” Humble concluded.
Watch Humble’s full response to the audit below. Humble also makes some interesting connections between the Speaker of the Senate, the majority leader of the Senate and the mailers sent out by PACs attacking Humble and his campaign.
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