Thursday, December 18, 2014

Campaign ethics report filed against Williamson Strong

Press Release - This week, a complaint was filed with Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance regarding the activities of the group Williamson Strong. The complaint indicates heavy involvement and collaboration between the group, incumbents running for re-election this summer, sitting board member Rick Wimberly and Williamson County Director of Schools, Mike Looney.

Members of the Williamson Strong team sent incumbents and Morris an email indicating they should be re-elected one week prior to issuing surveys to opposition candidates. The email offered campaign support and even stated it was all being done "with Dr. Looney's blessing." The email was from Jennifer Smith, President of Hillsboro PTO, the same PTO missing funds in excess of $20,000. Another team member cc'd on the email is Susan Drury, a Research and Strategic Campaign Director for SEIU.

Williamson Strong founders appear to have collaborated with Wimberly and Looney to identify which candidates to support and oppose as early as May 30th. Surveys were issued by Williamson Strong to opposition candidates on June 22nd, almost a week after the organization conveyed support to incumbents and District 2 Candidate, Melody Morris.

The complaint was filed by newly elected board member, Susan Curlee. Curlee submitted an open records request in September and was pressured by members of Williamson Strong and Director of Schools Mike Looney to drop her request. According to an open letter Curlee sent to local media and posted on her Facebook page, Dr. Looney assured her there was nothing to hide.

Unfortunately, her findings may be the tip of the iceberg as it appears Williamson County Taxpayer funded resources were used to support the group. The complaint is slated to be heard by the Bureau of Ethics & Campaign Finance on January 14th in Nashville.

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