State senator sends out 12-page brochure with taxpayer money
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
State senators are given a little more than $6,000 a year to keep their constituents informed.
They can have telephone town halls, send out surveys, buy lapel pins and even send out a legislative update, but sending out campaign promotional literature has to come out of their campaign fund.
In a hotly contested election, state Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson sent out a brochure.
"There's no legislation in play right now. And you wonder what vital information are we getting to the voters? Well, the vital information we're getting is the same thing that a typical campaign piece would get to the voters. It's really hard to distinguish here and really hard to make the case that this is vital constituent communication and not a campaign piece," said Ben Cunningham with Tennessee Tax Revolt.
Tax watchdogs say this should have come out of Summerville's own funds, but there's a problem: the brochure costs $20,000. The Summerville war chest holds $1,200.
"This is pretty clearly a promotional piece of literature that other candidates are spending a lot of money from their own campaign accounts to produce and send," Cunningham said.
Summerville said he was too busy to do an interview, so he emailed Channel 4 a statement.
An excerpt: "As you know, year-end reports are pretty commonly done by legislators who want to update the citizens in their districts about legislation or new laws that affect them at the end of the session. The piece was in the appropriate form and complied with all the rules and regulations set by the Senate."
This is Summerville's first eve 12-page summary report.
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