Campaign checkbooks show GOP entanglements

Sandra ClarkOpinion

It’s amazing that people are already running for elections that are a year away. Yet they are. And a quick look at financial disclosures shows some spider-webby entanglements.

For instance, Knox County Commission has two at-large seats, District 10, now held by Larsen Jay and District 11, now held by Justin Biggs who is running for trustee rather than re-election.

District 10: Jay is being challenged by Christine Cruz. She lists in-kind contributions from Judson Mason, candidate for County Commission from District 7; and the Klonaris family for a reception at Café 4. Jim Klonaris is a candidate for Knoxville City Council.

Christine Cruz

Most disclosures show heavy fund-raising and low expenditures for a race that’s a year away, but that’s not the case with Cruz. Her campaign has taken in $21,594 and spent $19,942, leaving just over $1,500 on hand. Her biggest contribution is a $10,000 loan from her husband, Leonardo R. Rodriguez-Cruz M.D., a neurological surgeon.

And her chief expenditure is a $10,000 payment to Angle LLC, located at 3021 E. Emory Road, for campaign consulting. Who owns/works at Angle? Photographer Alli Jeffries, attorney Daniel A. Herrera and Nashville-based lobbyist Andrew Lonegan.

Larsen Jay

Meanwhile, Jay’s disclosure shows contributions of $166,170 against expenditures of $21,900 for a balance of roughly $146,000. Donors include familiar names: Ashe, Boyd, Claussen, Clayton, Haslam, Jubran, Phillips, Stowers. Jay also got $1,000 from state Sen. Richard Briggs and $750 from state Rep. Eddie Mannis.

District 11: An open seat, with the strongest Republicans being West Knoxvillians Kim Frazier, who has worked on planning and development issues as a volunteer and with her husband, Dr. Russ Frazier, with Knox Rescue; and Devin Driscoll, former WWE wrestler, personal trainer and owner of D1 Sports Training.

Kim Frazier

Frazier has raised $23,385 and spent $533, leaving $21,800 on hand. Her disclosure shows support across Knox County.

Driscoll has raised $51,400 with contributions from every developer in town plus $500 from Cruz and $250 from Commissioner Kyle Ward. His only expenditure is $645 to an online service for more fund-raising.


The Tennessee Republican Party continues its lurch away from the expansive, big-tent elephant that grew to the majority in Tennessee. Erik Schelzig reported in the Tennessee Journal that the party’s state executive committee has decided to charge a fee for candidates to get on the ballot. The vote at a recent SEC meeting was 33-22.

We know it’s bad politics, but is this even legal? Republican candidates must pay to run:

  • Governor – $5,000
  • U.S. Senate – $5,000
  • U.S. House – $2,500
  • State Senate – $1,000
  • State House – $500
  • Judicial Offices – $500
  • Countywide Offices – $100
  • County Commission or Constable – $25

The only office not listed is the SEC itself. The Taliban now controls two outfits – Afghanistan and the TN Republican Party.

Brent Waugh has resigned as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee effective Sept. 1. He has done a great job and will be missed. Under his leadership, BBBS of East Tennessee has earned national recognition and won Agency of the Year in 2019. Read his farewell message here.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

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