Tennessee representative continues business with shadowy campaign vendor amid investigations

Claud Mccoid

Regardless of a federal probe into Tennessee House corruption, Republican state Rep. Todd Warner ongoing performing company with an Alabama campaign seller linked to two other entities caught up in FBI and condition investigations.

Warner, a Chapel Hill Republican seeking re-election to a 2nd time period, bought additional than $6,000 in promoting products and services this February from Dixieland Procedures, in accordance to his submitting with the point out Registry of Election Finance.

Requested Wednesday why he sought the services of Dixieland Procedures once again, Warner stated, “They completed me a fantastic career (sic).”

He reported he did absolutely nothing improper in using the services of Dixieland yet again and produced a mailer showing off their get the job done.

Williamson County Commissioner Jeff Ford of Spring Hill a short while ago introduced he is jogging for election as a Republican in Residence District 92. Freshly-aligned Home districts set Spring Hill into District 92, placing up the race pitting Warner against Ford.

Warner declined to recognize whom he bargains with or whether or not Dixieland Strategies is run by Cade Cothren, the ex-chief of team for former Household Speaker Glen Casada, who is now trying to get election to the Williamson County clerk’s post.

But Dixieland Procedures employs the very same pre-sorted postal code out of Chattanooga, 383, as two other shadowy entities that popped up in late 2019, Phoenix Solutions and the Religion Family members Liberty Fund political motion committee. Religion Relatives Flexibility Fund made use of that postal code in Warner’s newest campaign mailers.

Former condition Rep. Robin Smith pleaded responsible in March to a federal wire fraud cost that specific how Cothren established up a phony New Mexico-primarily based corporation termed Phoenix Methods to preserve lawmakers from locating out he was managing the vendor. Smith and Casada pressured Republicans to do extra than $200,000 really worth of company with Phoenix Remedies, purportedly operate by “Matthew Phoenix,” in return for kickbacks. Casada and Cothren have not been indicted.

Phoenix Alternatives operated likewise to the Faith Loved ones Liberty Fund political motion committee and Dixieland Methods, set up via an out-of-point out PostNet box. Dixieland has a mailing handle of 3331 Rainbow Generate Suite E, Rainbow Town, Alabama, which is the place for a PostNet business enterprise.

A former girlfriend of Cothren’s instructed the Tennessee Registry of Election that he persuaded her to set up the Religion Family members Liberty Fund PAC and provide as treasurer so he could operate it. Cothren also told her not to discuss to Registry personnel who known as her inquiring about her participation in the PAC’s formation. Her sister was the chairman of the firm.

Religion Spouse and children Freedom Fund applied a donation from a North Carolina cafe proprietor – unable to be located by the Registry – for its seed cash to pay out for assault ads in opposition to former Republican Rep. Rick Tillis, who lost to Warner in the 2020 election. Tillis used an nameless Twitter account to criticize Casada and Cothren in the run-up to Casada’s resignation amid a racist and sexist texting scandal involving Cothren.

Ultimately, Casada resigned in August 2019 right after the Home Republican Caucus gave him a vote of no self-confidence. House Speaker Cameron Sexton then was elected to provide in the course of a exclusive session.

The Registry of Election Finance audited Warner’s marketing campaign funds, including his expenditures with Dixieland Tactics, in 2021 soon after a Tillis campaign employee filed a criticism alleging unlawful coordination concerning Warner’s marketing campaign and the Faith Loved ones Flexibility Fund.

The Registry dismissed the make any difference in November 2021 just after Warner was ready to display wherever he paid the vendor and been given the providers.

Warner, nevertheless, was less than investigation, together with Smith and Casada, soon after FBI agents raided their properties and legislative offices in January 2021. On the advice of his attorney, Warner has declined to focus on the raid and investigation.

(Examine Additional: Tennessee ethics bill developed to clamp down on legislative corruption nonetheless in functions)

The Registry board subpoenaed various legislators, which include Warner and Casada, to testify about what they know of the Religion Household Freedom Fund in March. Casada said he understood nothing about the entity, and he formerly told the Tennessee Lookout he had no link to Phoenix Methods, though Smith’s responsible plea doc demonstrates he realized about the firm’s setup and took kickbacks.

Cothren refused to testify just before the Registry, invoking his Fifth Amendment correct to not incriminate himself, and criticized the subpoena in a letter from his attorney.

The Registry not too long ago turned the overall make any difference more than to the Williamson County District Attorney’s Business office for an investigation into probable felony penalties.

In spite of Warner’s final decision to preserve performing enterprise with Dixieland Approaches, minimal about the entity can be identified.

The Alabama secretary of state’s web site has no registration for the company, nor does Tennessee’s web site.

Phoenix Remedies, in contrast, filed a certificate of business in November 2019 in New Mexico and a number of times later in Tennessee, according to experiences.

No matter if Dixieland Approaches is needed to file in Tennessee could depend on how it was structured, as a sole proprietor or confined legal responsibility corporation.

(Go through More: Tennessee election registry needs lawyer typical to enforce subpoena on previous Residence aide)

In accordance to the Lawyer General’s Office environment, a “foreign” corporation, one particular that is not included under the Tennessee For-Financial gain Organization Corporation Act, is expected to get a certification of authority from the secretary of condition in advance of “transacting business” in the state. Some things to do are excluded, this kind of as managing lawful work, keeping board conferences, protecting financial institution accounts, providing goods by way of impartial contractors and soliciting orders by mail. None of the objects mentioned in point out law appear to require marketing campaign function.

Greg Hazelwood, a Nashville resident who did volunteer operate for Tillis in 2020, complained to the Registry board that Dixieland Tactics had no “enterprise footprint” for the reason that he couldn’t uncover a physical location, telephone quantity or other facts demonstrating it existed.

His criticism also contended Warner, through Dixieland Techniques, and Religion Household Independence Fund violated marketing campaign finance legal guidelines when they despatched out political flyers with the same postal code on the identical working day.

Browse a lot more at TennesseeLookout.com.

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