TNGOP State Party Chair Mysteriously Threatens To Overturn Election Of Bona Fide Committeeman Elect

Image Credit: tngop.org

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

During the August 4th election, District 2 SEC write-in candidate Mark Pulliam won the seat with 300 votes in Blount County, and 2 votes in Polk County.  However, since there wasn’t an opposing candidate for the position on the roster, Pulliam could have won with a single vote.

Now, the Tennessee GOP’s State Party Chairman Scott Golden has threatened to declare Pulliam as “non-bona fide” and “vacate” his election even though Pulliam meets all the criteria set forth in the GOP bylaws to be an elected member of the SEC. 

Pulliam told the Tennessee Conservative, “I assumed there would be some resistance to my write-in election in Blount County, but did not expect to face pushback at the TRP. I met a recently-elected SEC member at the Tennessee Freedom Summit who told me she had been invited to (and attended) a SEC meeting a few days after the 8/4 election, which featured a discussion about the potential impropriety of a write-in candidate, something the bylaws did not contemplate. Obviously the discussion was about me.”

In not receiving communications from the SEC following his win, Pulliam contacted the TN GOP Chairman Scott Golden inquiring about the dates for future meetings and if the SEC took issue with his write-in win.  

Pulliam wrote, “If you contend that write-in candidates are barred from serving on the SEC by the TRP bylaws, please indicate specific language. All I see is a requirement that the candidate be a “bona fide Republican” residing in the district who is elected  ‘by the voters of each respective District qualified to vote in such Republican primary.’ I meet these requirements.”

Indeed, the Tennessee Republican Party bylaws (last updated December 16th, 2020) do not mention anything about write-in candidates.

Golden replied to Pulliam stating that his write-in candidacy “does present some issues concerning our Bona Fide requirements.”

Golden laid out three provisions to be considered “Bona Fide” by the Tennessee GOP.

1.  Actively involved 

2.  Voting in the last 3 Republican Primaries

3.  Candidate Registration Fee

Golden wrote to Pulliam, “Obviously, because you choose not to go through the regular process for petitions, I am unaware of whether you qualify on number 1 or 2.  However, I do know that you did not file a registration fee with the TNGOP either prior to the April filing deadline or even the June deadline for notification of write-in candidacy.”  

“After discussions with our legal counsel, though I may the power to declare you are non-bona fide and vacate your election, we feel that this decision should best be left in the hands of the State Executive Committee and the State Primary Board because of the long term implications, impacts, and precedents of all write-in candidacies,” Golden closed.  

In a reply email, Pulliam explained to Golden that he was informed by TRP’s Political Director, Tyler Burns, at the time that he filed his Certificate of Write-In Candidacy, that no fee was required in his case.  Pulliam assumed that guidance was given because his name did not appear on the Republican primary ballot. 

Pulliam states that after Golden raised the $100 fee as a basis for overturning the results of the election on August 23rd, he (Pulliam) went ahead and paid the fee.

Pulliam wrote to Golden, “I defy you to take the position that I do not qualify as a ‘bona fide Republican’ under the current definition in the TRP Bylaws (or any rational definition). I am a lifelong Republican who has voted in every election since 1976.  Accordingly, I am not clear what ‘long term implications, impacts, and precedents’ need to be reviewed by the SEC and the State Primary Board, as you suggested in your email.”

In closing, Pulliam wrote, “I’m looking forward to a more detailed explanation for the basis of your challenge to my election. Due process requires that I be given written notice of the specific issue(s), and an opportunity to respond.  I find it ironic that the GOP, after all the controversy involving the 2020 election and questions about the integrity of the election, would be seeking to overturn the result of an election, after the fact, without citing any violation of applicable law.”

The Tennessee Conservative has also reached out to Golden and the GOP’s communication officer to inquire about what issues are involved with Pulliam’s installment as they relate to bylaws, etc. but we have not heard back upon this article’s publication.

However, following our communication to the GOP, an email was sent out to SEC members by the TNGOP calling for a “State Primary Board” meeting regarding Pulliam and his write-in candidacy for the SEC Committeeman District 2 scheduled for September 7th.

The email gave the background information as follows:

Background Information:

– The SD 2 Committeeman’s position was left vacant following the April 8th state filing deadline

– Mr. Pulliam filed notice that he was going to seek the position as a write-in candidate in June

– Mr. Pulliam’s write-in votes were counted and certified

Why State Primary Board?

– TCA 2-13-104 states:

            All candidates for state executive committee members and for membership in the general assembly shall be bona fide members of the political party whose election they seek.

– TNGOP Bylaws require 3 criteria to become a Bona Fide Republican candidate for office:

            1. Active – Time or Money

            2. Voting (3 of 3 in GOP Primaries for SEC Members)

            3. Registration Fee (Capitol Club Dues)

– Mr. Pulliam did not pay his registration fee prior to the April 8th deadline for consideration

– The TNGOP did remove candidates in 2022 because they refused to submit the registration fee through the Bona Fide qualification process

– The TNGOP reserves the right to determine who is a Bona Fide Republican

Filing Issue:

This issue has surfaced as well and is still trying to get a legal opinion from the Division of Elections as to whether Mr. Pulliam should have been allowed to be a write-in candidate.  

– TCA 2-8-113C states:

            (c) Any person trying to receive a party nomination by write-in ballots shall complete a notice requesting such person’s ballots be counted in each county of the district no later than twelve o’clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, fifty (50) days before the primary election.

– Mr. Pulliam did not file in one of the four counties in his district (Bradley)

Ultimately, the decision resides solely with the SEC/State Primary Board. 

In response, Pulliam said that the TCA 2-8-113C also states that “ “Such person shall only have votes counted in counties where such notice was completed and timely filed.” 

“My deliberate failure to file in Bradley County (only a portion of which is included in District 2) does not disqualify my write-in candidacy; it only prevents write-in votes from being counted in Bradley County,” Pulliam said.

The official election results from the Secretary of State show that Pulliam received no write-in votes in Bradley County regardless, so this would appear to be a non-issue.

The Secretary of State’s website also states that, “If you are running for an office in a district with multiple counties, you must file an original form in each county within the district where you want your write-in votes counted.”

Pulliam said, “As things now stand, I am in complete limbo. I have read the bylaws carefully and there is not a shred of a basis to object to my write-in candidacy. Whatever ‘concerns’ are being voiced are totally pretextual.”

Meanwhile District 2 voters are voicing their own concerns about why the TNGOP is considering disregarding the votes they cast on August 4th.

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

12 thoughts on “TNGOP State Party Chair Mysteriously Threatens To Overturn Election Of Bona Fide Committeeman Elect

  • September 6, 2022 at 1:01 pm
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    If the bylaws didn’t address the issue, then address it for future elections.

    More bylaw issues and vacating a duly elected SEC member’s election is embarassing and why do so? Just fix for the future.

    There were 8 open seats that could have all had write in candidates as either no one filed by the deadline or those who did file were disqualified for not being “Bona Fide” as defined by TRP bylaws.
    There were several interested in being write in candidates in District 28 but were told (incorrectly) that one could not be a write in for this office and some were told the practice was “frowned upon” and “not encouraged” … Why were potential candidates told not to run for office as a write in when it is absolutely allowed by TN election law and it is not against the bylaws? (According to the state election office and according to the TRP bylaws, there was nothing prohibiting a “Bona Fide” (as per TRP bylaws) candidate from filing as write in.)

    And Tyler Burns told this man he did not need to pay the registration fee? The political director for the TRP gave him incorrect information and for that they are attempted to unseat him? Shameful! So now resorting to having him declared an non Bona Fide? What is the problem?

    Why was misinformation given to people across the state willing to step up and serve in public office? Why is the TRP manipulating the bylaw process and the election process?

    The process for a empty seat is a TRP/SEC appointment committee … complete control by the TRP. Who do they want to appoint to this seat? Why this much effort to control who is on the SEC?

    Surely, this much effort into controling who is on the SEC has nothing to do with Chairman Golden’s upcoming election? In Dec, the SEC will vote for the Chairman position of the Tennessee Republican Party for the next 2 years. I just can’t believe that Chairman Golden would put this much effort into unseating an SEC member and providing incorrect information about running for SEC as a write in due to his own upcoming election … right? Surely, it was not an effort to personally control who runs/wins the SEC positions with an eye to the December Chair elections?

    Why not let this election stand and change the bylaws going forward?

    So embarassing to see the TRP fighting to unseat active, conservative Republican voters who have stepped forward and are willing to serve.

    To the grassroots voters, this looks like more of the same insider politics and attempted backroom deals … or maybe a backroom deal thwarted? Who does Scott Golden want to appoint to that position and why is that appointment so important?

    Reply
    • September 7, 2022 at 8:39 pm
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      This decision should be left in the hands of the voters who voted him in by write-in. He won.
      To do otherwise is foolish, petty and illegal. Just because the Republican Party didn’t get it together enough to run a candidate for this position is no reason to block him. He’s a duly elected official.
      Politics look more and more corrupt on both sides of the isle with this type of behavior.

      Reply
  • September 6, 2022 at 1:37 pm
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    Trying to vacate a legitimate election based on not paying the $100 registration fee? Embarassing for the Tennessee Republican Party that this was even considered, esp. as this was confirmed to not be needed by the TRP office.

    That is a pure manipulation to unseat a duly elected SEC Committeeman. Bylaws are convenient when attempting to control the candidates and therefore outcomes of an election … but All Bylaws need to be followed ALL of the time by the TRP and SEC members or claiming “bylaws” looses credibility.

    Here is a HUGE problem – and why the claim the issue is the $100 registration fee is an obvious ploy from the start. (Good thing the candidate has the TRP on record about that issue)

    The SEC members are *REQUIRED* to be Capitol Club members, donating a minimum of $100 to the Tennessee Republican Party. This is specified as a Requirement in the TRP Bylaws:
    “They shall be expected to support the TRP as a member of the Capitol
    Club or higher level of support, and shall assist in recruiting local Capitol Club members.”

    Public record shows that Many SEC Members are NOT Capitol Club members.
    https://tngop.org/2022-capitol-club
    (It will be interesting to see which SEC members are suddenly added to this page … and the dates listed as their date for contribution in 2022 … hope no one is dishonest when updating this page with contributions post April … hope no Capitol Club memberships are backdated)

    If we are now disqualifying based on TRP bylaws, EVERY member that was a sitting SEC member until the election ought to have been terminated for not meeting the TRP bylaw requirements. EVERY member that was just elected on 8/4 who is not a Capitol Club Member needs to be terminated for not meeting the TRP bylaw requirements unless they immediately do so.

    Members have claimed that their Registration fee was substitute for their Capitol Club membership fee. According to the bylaws, they are 2 seperate fees … or EVERYONE paying a registartion fee to run as a Republican would also be listed a Capitol Club member. Registration fees and pure donations are 2 different donations. Are purchases for the Statesman’s Dinner counted as Capitol Club donations? Not according to the bylaws and not according to the website.

    If the TRP is now disqualifying duly elected SEC Members we need to start with those who are not following their own bylaws.

    Some SEC members complain that they serve unpaid and therefore shouldn’t need to pay the registration fee and the Capitol Club membership.
    -They voted their own rules.
    -The SEC position being unpaid was a known fact when they ran for office. If they did not want to serve in an unpaid position within the party, they should have chosen to not run for this office.
    -THEY voted to put “registration” fees in place … do they not realize that few elected offices pay what they cost to serve? What do most county commissioners receieve for their long hours of service, for example?

    SEC Members from 1/1/2022 until Sept who did not meet their own bylaws need to contribute their $100 and all newly elected need to meet this bylaw stipulation.

    Such hypocrisy that there were some who voted against Baxter Lee, Morgan Ortagus and Robby Starbuck who did not meet their own TRP bylaw requirements to be SEC members.

    Until the TRP SEC members follow their own bylaws for their own office, we voters are Very tired of the TRP SEC crying “bylaws” every time they dislike a candidate (and yes, SEC members are on public record as voting against those they removed in the 5th district as voting against them because they personally disagreed with their politics rather than the candidates not meeting the TRP bylaw requirements) or feel control over candidates is not in their hands. Seems like the bylaws are a tool for manipulation and not of actual concern for some SEC members.

    Who decides who is required to follow the bylaws and who isn’t? Why are those who aren’t followign their own bylaws allowed to skate? What backroom deals are happening in closed door sessions?

    We, the voting Republicans of TN, elect 66 people to the TRP SEC to manage it … not to control the candidates to this extent. Who we elect should be up to the voters, not controlled by 66 people who are elected to manage the TRP for the Republicans of TN.

    Maybe it comes down to one’s point of view as to what is the TRP?

    Is the TRP defined by the 66 SEC members who seem to overrule TN Republican voter’s opinions with their own personal opinions or is the Tennesse Republican Party the majority of voting Republicans, the Repulican Voting Base who the SEC members are meant to represent?

    Is the SEC and the TRP representing the voters or themselves?

    By manipulating the bylaws to represent their opinions v. the Republicans of this state and by not following their own bylaws for themselves one begins to wonder.

    Some of us Tennessee Republican voters are embarassed and disappointed that the TRP SEC is AGAIN in the news for insider fighting and manipulation against grassroots Tennessee Republicans

    Reply
  • September 6, 2022 at 3:51 pm
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    So excited that Chairman of the TN Republican Party is focusing on bylaws as the lack of clarity in the bylaws and processes has cost the party so much $ which comes from TN Republican voters/donors.

    Hope the bylaws are streamlined soon!

    One thing that has bothered some voters is that the TN GOP bylaws are clear that the SEC Committeemen & women are not to endorse in contested GOP primary races and yet some SEC members actually work for politicians directly. Working for them is not endorsing them … but it is essentially endorsing them.

    Do members of the SEC working for politicians step off the SEC during contested primaries? Recuse themselves from votes concerning the race their employer and/or his opponents? If a Bona Fide question arises concerning their employer’s race &/or opponents do they recuse themselves or do they vote for/against their employer’s opponent’s bona fide status?

    There are at least 3 current SEC committeemen/women employed by US Congressmen – all Great conservatives serving Tennessee’s Republicans in multiple offices right now. However, what happens when the Congressmen run for office? Do they step aside? How is being in their employ not an endorsement? Did they vote concerning bona fides of people running against their employer?

    As the SEC meetings are neither public or transparent and as these are questions of bylaws being followed on the important issue TN Election integrity, the voting TN GOP base has no way to know what is happening behind close doors, if employees of current congressmen are voting for/against possible GOP Primary challengers to their own employers … a clear conflict of interest.

    Great that the Scott Golden bringing the details of the bylaws to the forefront and insisting that they be followed. As TN Republicans do not have access to SEC meetings, we are concerned about what is happening behind closed doors and are concerned about clear conflict of intests/plus the no endorsement rule being followed in principle as well as fact.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2022 at 4:44 pm
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    Perfect example of why I cannot support any Republicans in TN. What’s the difference between a TN Republican and a democrat? Only the letter next to their name, otherwise, nothing. I support REAL MAGA conservatives in other states. There are none in RINO controlled TN.

    Reply
    • September 8, 2022 at 2:27 am
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      As someone who moved to Tennessee
      from California, I look at shenanigans like this, and some other similar actions by the Tennessee GOP, and wonder if they are operating out of a playbook written by the California Republican Party. Tennessee is a long way from turning into that mess, but my point is, that much of what is wrong in California went wrong because the GOP self destructed because party leaders are obsessed with maintaining their positions in the party and shutting out anyone jumping the line in front of whomever’s turn it is. Stupid, juvenile, nonsense that has nothing to do with stopping the left, serving Republican voters, or making the State a better place to live. It is about maintaining power and influence by controlling party candidates. Not the quality of the candidate, just influence over and control of the candidate, and nothing more. We looked at multiple states over a two year period before settling on Tennessee, and we love it here. While a blue Tennessee is unlikely now, a blue California looked unlikely when the Navy sent me there in 1980. These types of petty nonsense add up over time. They discourage and distract potential candidates AND voters, creating opportunities for the Left. To quote a bumper sticker that readers of this site are familiar with, although in a different context, “Don’t California My Tennessee.”

      Reply
  • September 6, 2022 at 5:17 pm
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    Smacks of voter suppression and Democrat tactics.

    We need closed primaries to elect pure conservatives.

    Those that pass the laws in Tennessee are happy with the status quo and their job security. —Notice how the pure conservatives are treated if they happen to get elected, ie. Griffey, Weaver, Bowling, Pody— This past session they couldn’t even get a second for good strong conservative bills!! Unacceptable!!
    We have lost some of our very best members because of this crony-protection apparatus.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2022 at 6:07 pm
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    The SEC & TRP are really showing us their true colors, aren’t they?
    They don’t want any true MAGA patriots in their Good Old Boys Club!

    Reply
  • September 6, 2022 at 7:05 pm
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    Golden is a sleaze. Case in point. And the GOP is willing to act contrary to the TN Constitution, seen by their bill that caused 3 GOP candidates to not qualify in the August primaries. That bill was unconstitutional as it changed elections laws in the middle of an election.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2022 at 10:36 pm
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    If all Conservative Tennesseans would do as I do, TNGOP, RNC/GOP would start listening. Simply send ZERO contributions to the RINO gin, only support Conservative candidates. Their open primaries are another reason for non support.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2022 at 8:04 pm
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    I sent Golden an email in support of Mark. I received no reply. Not even a generic robo email.

    Reply
  • September 9, 2022 at 1:30 am
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    Elections are to be of and for the people, not the political elite, rinos or power keepers. I agree, with Don’t California My Tennessee! Make voice and votes be heard loud and clear….Only Constitutional Conservatives for Us!

    Reply

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