Racist Campaign Finance Audits?

Rep. Rev. Harold M. Love, Jr.

By Staff Reports

Politicians, misappropriation of funds, and violations of campaign finance laws that is a big business traditionally reserved for Caucasians and the Good Ole’ Boys Club nationally and locally.  It happens in the minuscule world of Black politicians although rare.  However, a white politician can steal or play with 90 thousand dollars and all is well but for purposes of this article, a black politician can play with nine dollars and he is vilified by the white press and subjected to the equivalent of a public lynching without due process.  Regardless of how the chips are stacked and if a Black politician committed the offense or not, he is mutilated and castrated as the salivating powers to be fall short of asking for his head on a platter.   

Thus is the case of a highly respected Pastor and District 58 Representative Harold Love who in his oversight obviously became bait for an overzealous auditing process within the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.  Although Love by The Tribune’s press time has not received a copy of the  final report and is still in compliance mode,  and the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance may be flawed with the exception of looking for a black man to burn first.  It’s extremely suspect to learn there are seven others who will be audited over the next two years but no explanation has been provided as to why Love was first on the chopping block. Without an explanation to the Black community, the scenario remains the same in the fact that he was thrown to the wolves first because he is a black man.

Unbeknownst to citizens, last year’s Tennessee lawmakers also spent hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars to pay for impersonators, club memberships, the National Rifle Association (NRA), cars, and other expenses that may have provided a personal benefit.  In reality, Black politicians will appropriate funds like other races, but you better believe an impersonator or car will not be on the list.  If anything, Love was partially justified with his actions is that he spent money on himself, his staff, and constituents and a few supporters and organizations along the way as he knocked on doors in the midst of a policy that did not exist.

It reeks of pure racism that it is alleged that there is a list of eight individuals total on this audit list but only one is a black man and the other is a black woman who was probably added as filler to round out the list for the appearance of being inconspicuous.  Nashville citizens truly deserve to know what happens with campaign finance dollars but when the bureaus and committees decide to turn campaign finance oversights into racial firestorms, problems are created in the city and the state’s efforts to diversify.  In 2017 Nashville lawmakers approved the measure to increase the frequency of audits.  With that being said, why was Love’s questionable expenses examined as far back as the year 2015? Will this  list of eight individuals on this audit list have their expenses examined as far back as the year 2015? 

According to the audit, Love did not purchase airline tickets, pay for any French hotels or cigars or shop on Amazon.com like many other white legislators such as former lawmaker Jeremy Durham who purchased custom suits and laid up in spas with his campaign finance dollars. 

The list of other politicians on this list to be audited includes Timothy Hill (Republican District 3), John Ragan (Republican State Rep. District 33), Charlie Baum (Republican, part of Rutherford County), Darren Jernigan (Democrat, District 60), Curtis Halford (Republican District 79), Dwayne Thompson (Democrat District 96) and lastly Katrina Robinson (Female, Democrat, Black, Memphis).  How is the list determined? Will the audits actually be  completed over the next two years.   

Representative Harold Love’s expenditures  ranged from $2.50 to $1,200. Again, Love admitted to spending money on food etc.,  but the policy being mentioned was not in place at the time.  Love admitted to failure to report donations and contributions and not itemizing properly and poor records but he did not mirror a white politician that used campaign funds to invest more than $100,000 in the company of a wealthy GOP donor,  loan nearly $30,000 to professional gamblers or make loans to a spouse for $25,000.  

In other words, Love was not a double dipping, cross country gallivanting high roller living a fancy life off the campaign funds like some have done for years.  His primary offense if anything was being a brilliant Black with devoted satisfied constituents.

Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said his office would be able to audit up to 4 or 5 percent of campaign accounts during a two-year period without changing the agency’s budget.

Our question still remains – who determines who gets audited and when? Is it by district? sex? race? age? or who you can embarrass? The public deserves  a list of every representative or senator and the projected year of their audit. If a representative is to be audited in 2022, will the audit reach back to 2015?  What is the range of an audit?  Will those not audited this time have time to stop spending for a good audit? And then go back to their old spending habits since their audit is over?  The system is flawed. Perhaps the community should set up its own oversight committee and review each representative spending.  We have already begun that process and we are amazed.  So shocked that we wouldn’t dare print what these white legislator’s having been spending over the years.   But one can read it for themselves.

Finally, in this era where there is a rise in racial animus and white supremacy, at least the government in the state of Tennessee could give African American Tennesseans  the decency and respect our race so well deserve. And the Tennessean could give our community leaders more more respect as they beg us to buy their newspaper and take out subscriptions for a company that rarely hires African American journalist.  Why continue to take our money and insult our people?

Finally, what did Rev. Love’s running for mayor have to do with this audit – why was this part of the Tennesseans article? 

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