Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What to do with your war chest when the battle's over

Matt Wilson looks into what former State Sen. Ward Crutchfield (D-Chattanooga) is doing with his campaign fund.

No money other than about $2,000 in interest has been added to his campaign funds in the year since he pleaded guilty, records show.

Over that time, Mr. Crutchfield has used some of the funds for campaign contributions to Hamilton County Board of Education members Debra Matthews and Janice Boydston, as well as state Reps. Joanne Favors and Tommie Brown, both D-Chattanooga. His campaign contributions totaled $1,000, according to records.

The piece retains a neutral tone, carefully noting what kinds of contributions from political committees are permitted and which are not.

Rep. Joanne Favors stands by the former senator, who was brought down in the Tennessee Waltz sting, in her comments.

Rep. Favors said she saw no problem with accepting the $250 contribution, though she did not ask for the money. “It was done openly,” she said. “I still consider Sen. Crutchfield a friend of mine.”

Other recipients are less flattering: Marilyn Harrison, vice president of Allied Arts, said she was not familiar with the contribution. She said many donors support Allied Arts.

I think that response is pretty bad. Granted, it's an awkward thing to have to explain. But what message does it send to donors when you say, "Gee, I don't know. Lots of people give"? If someone with a nonprofit is asked and decides to comment, it might be best to check the database or send the reporter a copy of your donor report for the year in question. Or maybe it might be best not to discuss donors at all. But to take the money and comment that there are just so many supporters says individual contributions don't matter. I guess her organization won't be seeing much more of the $166,000 that remains in Sen. Crutchfield's account. It's a shame, too, because that would be a great use for the money. Kicking a man when he is trying to redeem himself is a lost opportunity.

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