How Regular Tennessee Residents Were Forced To Become A Political Action Committee

Image Credit: Jon S / CC

The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

Ordinary Tennessee residents living in White County have been forced to identify and register themselves as political action committee (PAC), despite not being affiliated with any specific group or organization. 

For those unfamiliar with campaign finance rules and regulations, the widely accepted definition of a PAC is “an organization that raises money to influence elections or legislation.” The term is typically not applied to individual persons.

“What are the consequences for publishing an opinion […] in a local small-town newspaper of 5,000 subscribers?” Questioned one of the affected residents, “We thought free speech laws covered this kind of thing.”

Recently a few Conservative individuals set out to urge their community to show up and vote against a county tax referendum. Doubting that their local left-leaning newspaper would even consider publishing a letter to the editor, these individuals opted for a paid ad listing. 

The newspaper refused to run the advertisement unless the words “Paid Political Ad” were present alongside the names of each individual who contributed anything towards the $135 advertising cost. The individuals were even told not to try to pay for the ad until all donor names were gathered.

These people were not advertising on behalf of a specific campaign, candidate, political party, or organization, but simply tossed a few bucks in the hat to spread awareness on an upcoming vote in their area.

Copy of ad provided by our source. Contributor’s names redacted at their request.

“We just published an opinion about an upcoming vote in a local county election and urged people to get out and vote.” One of them told The Tennessee Conservative. 

With seemingly no other options, the residents followed the Secretary of State Office’s instructions on how to fill out the forms as an individual. A process which involved creating a makeshift organization name, appointing an organization treasurer, filling out a “Campaign Financial Disclosure Statement” and registering additional personal information. 

The resident who reached out with this story has now been officially rebranded as a PAC despite being an ordinary Tennessee resident simply sharing their opinion. All of this in order to simply take out a 6”x5” ad in the local newspaper. 

“Congratulate me. I am now a PAC,” the resident said. “End of story – I hope.”

Disclaimer statements on politically driven advertisements are nothing new, but requiring individual citizens to make up an organization on the spot and register as a political action committee even though they are not one could be considered questionable. 

Advertise with The Tennessee Conservative! We won’t make you register as a PAC!
Contact for details

About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Adelia at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *