Months after it was announced he had raised $453,000 in the first 30 days of his campaign for the 5th congressional district, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles filed a late report showing he only raised $264,400 raised US dollars.
Ogles has already been hounded by a TV ad that claimed he had failed to pay property taxes when he filed his application a week late with figures that didn’t match an initial press release from the campaign in May.
In the late report, the former Americans for Prosperity Tennessee state director reported total receipts of $584,000 but only $264,402 in total contributions, almost $200,000 less than he had claimed two months ago. The contributors included Tennessee Tax Revolt leader Ben Cunningham, former Nashville auto dealer Lee Beaman, and conservative economist Arthur Laffer.
With early voting underway and Election Day free just a week before the federal primary, voters are being inundated with campaign ads that, in many cases, are forcing them to sift through the mud to find the truth.
Despite the initial boast, Ogles’ campaign reported a total of $320,000 in credit to bolster its numbers. He spent $301,063 and had $283,338 in cash on hand as the Aug. 4 Republican primary drew closer. About $53,500 of that is earmarked for the general election.
Ogles didn’t reply to text messages, and his campaign didn’t respond to emails asking for comments. But according to the Tennessee Journal, he said he didn’t count a loan toward the May total he reported in his press release.
Ogles finally filed his financial report for the campaign around the same time an ad, funded by the Tennessee Conservatives’ Political Action Committee, accused him of failing to pay property taxes nine times while supporting a sales tax hike and supporting a property tax increase and did not oppose a marriage tax.
In fact, reports show that Ogles paid taxes on a Franklin home between 2005 and 2015. Despite this, he was late by a few days to a week three times and late by six times by between 43 days and 322 days, which required him to pay interest ranging from $43 to $279 on the late payments.
Ogles responded to the ad’s allegations by filing a defamation lawsuit against the Tennessee Conservatives PAC, saying his opponents were “collaborating with leftist interest groups to spread malicious and blatant lies about him,” according to a Main Street Nashville report. The lawsuit also sought to stop the ad from running.
The uproar over the 5th congressional district began when Republican lawmakers this year redraw district maps and split Davidson County into three counties, creating a Republican seat and ultimately forcing Democratic US Rep. Jim Cooper to resign after holding the seat for years . He will be replaced by Democratic State Senator Heidi Campbell.
Wade through mud: Ogles alleges defamation by the Tennessee Conservatives PAC, which is largely funded by Oracle founder and billionaire Larry Ellison, while an allegation by the School Freedom Fund accuses Harwell and Winstead of being “indebted to liberal Democrats.”
Two of the frontrunners in the newly drawn 5th congressional district, which includes parts of Davidson, Wilson and Williamson and all of Maury, Marshall and Lewis counties, have failed to follow up on his late federal campaign filing.
Former National Guard Brig. General Kurt Winstead’s strategy has been to attack President Joe Biden’s border policy – putting Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the job – and saying that as an “old general” he knows how to get the job done.
But former Speaker of the Republican House of Representatives Beth Harwell this week began running a TV ad calling Ogles a “lobbyist” and a “tax collector.”
“The DC special interest group that attacked Donald Trump is now lying about Beth Harwell. They support Andy Ogles because he’s a DC insider. He’s also a tax collector,” the narrator says in the ad, claiming Ogles helped boost sales that hurt working families.
Tennessee Conservatives PAC was honored with a $1 million donation from Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle Corp. and supporters of former President Donald Trump. The PAC made $232,552 in independent campaign spending to go after Ogles. Supporters of former candidate Morgan Ortagus reportedly helped found the PAC.
In contrast, Ogles benefited from independent editions, which attacked Harwell and Winstead, an attorney for Franklin, for being “too liberal.”
The School Freedom Fund, which is affiliated with the Club for Growth, is being funded with $15 million by Jeff Yass, founder of Susquehanna International Group and a Tik-Tok investor who spends heavily on the choice to pay taxes lower and support the 2020 vote-resisters reports.
The Super PAC spent $197,000 each to attack Winstead and Harwell. It also paid $665,000 to go after Republican U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks of Huntsville, Alabama, who lost the support of former President Trump after refusing to dismiss the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The School Freedom Fund sent out letters saying Harwell and Winstead were “dedicated to Liberal Democrats.” They cite Harwell’s vote in 2017 for former Gov. Bill Haslam to raise the six-cent fuel tax to build hundreds of bridge roads, in addition to her support from the Tennessee Education Association during her failed gubernatorial election four years ago.
Ogles campaigned against the fuel tax hike five years ago, but couldn’t reverse it.
The mailers also met Winstead because he had made donations to Democrats of more than $2,500 over the years.
Harwell’s campaign declined to respond to questions about the attack ads.
But Winstead campaign manager Chris Devaney said the retired National Guardsman has supported Republican candidates and donated more than $30,000 to them over the past decade, including former Senator and Congresswoman Diane Black, US Rep. Mark Green and the US – MP Marsha Blackburn.
“That pales in comparison to other posts over a decade ago. As he was busy raising a family, serving his country, and setting up a law firm, his opponents anticipated his next candidacy for political office. The general didn’t spend his life running for office, he spent his life serving our country,” Devaney replied to questions.
The USA Freedom Fund, which received nearly $3 million in support from the Club for Growth, also spent nearly $800,000 supporting Ogles.
The group was responsible for ads criticizing Harwell for her vote in 2001 for a law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. She was one of 19 Republicans who sponsored the law to ensure people illegally in the country knew the rules of the road.
The television spot linked Harwell’s voting to the 9/11 attack and claimed it enabled terrorists to use state-issued driver’s licenses to board planes. The ad accused Harwell of being “too risky” and “too liberal.”
However, Harwell voted to repeal the law in 2004, and in her own ad responding to the attack, Harwell claimed she had blocked illegal immigrants from obtaining licenses and would oppose President Joe Biden’s policies, includingbuilding a wall to “stop the chaos” on the southern border and end the president’s “socialist agenda”.
For the most recent reporting period, Harwell brought in a total of $986,036 with $836,033 in contributions and a $150,000 loan. She spent $605,7356 and had $380,300 in cash on hand.
Harwell received strong support from former lawmakers, including Republicans Mark White, Dale Carr, Curtis Johnson, David Hawk and Ron Gant, former Congressmen Rick Tillis, Sens. Art Swann, Shane Reeves and Page Walley, and former Gov. Bill Haslam , former Senator Jim Tracy, former Comptroller Justin Wilson, and lobbyists Mark Cate and Mike Bivens.
Winstead reported $2,126,315 in revenue, but that included $985,315 in total contributions and $1.14 million in loans. He ended the period with $407,785 in cash and $696,225 in loans owed from his campaign.
The contributors included State Assemblyman Gary Hicks, Senator Ed Jackson, former Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, former Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lisa Piercey, and Nashville real estate developer Jimmy Granbery.
Winstead’s inflated overall earnings were caused by credits made for the campaign. He removed a $460,000 loan from his account because it was not needed and accruing interest, Devaney said, but he then extended another $200,000 loan to the campaign.
Neither candidate responded when asked if they believe President Biden or former President Trump won the 2020 election.