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Complaint Filed Against Former State Senator Jim Tracy for Alleged Violation of the Hatch Act over Fundraiser for Shane Reeves

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A complaint has been filed against former State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) for allegedly violating the Hatch Act for his participation in a fundraiser for candidate Shane Reeves, whom Tracy has endorsed to replace him.

Tom Humphrey published a brief statement by John Anderson, the author of the complaint:

An official complaint has been filed with the federal Office of Special Counsel charging Jim Tracy, newly appointed U.S. Department of Agriculture Director of Rural Development for Tennessee, with violation of the Hatch Act. Tracy recently hosted a political fundraising event for Republican candidate Shane Reeves, thereby violating federal law.

The complaint was filed by retired schoolteacher John Anderson of Bell Buckle.

Reeves is a political associate and protege of Tracy and is running with Tracy’s support for Tracy’s abandoned seat in the Tennessee state Senate.

In an email sent out by Reeves’ Campaign Finance Director Rachel Barrett on November 7, 2017, recipients were solicited to attend a November 16 campaign fundraising event for Reeves hosted by Tracy.

According to the Tennessee USDA Rural Development website, Tracy officially became a federal employee on November 13, 2017. His hosting a fundraiser for Reeves three days later was therefore a violation of federal law.

Under the Hatch Act, federal employees may attend a political fundraising event but may not host one. In the email, Tracy is named as the “host” of the fundraiser. The subject line of the email names Tracy as the one inviting potential donors to the event, the email was copied to Tracy so that he was aware of its contents, and Barrett is a professional fundraiser whom Tracy has employed in the past.

The Murfreesboro Post reports that the Reeves campaign – through campaign manager Matt Herriman –  denies any wrongdoing, stating:

Jim Tracy endorsed and allowed his name on an invitation prior to his official employment. Once he was officially employed, he recused himself from all campaign activity, including all events for Reeves. He did not attend any of them. There was no violation of any kind and this is clearly an attempt by a fledgling Joe Carr campaign to manufacture a non-existent issue.

The Nashville Post reviewed the details of the event in question, noting:

In an email sent out by Reeves’ Campaign Finance Director Rachel Barrett on November 7, 2017, recipients were solicited to attend a November 16 campaign fundraising event for Reeves hosted by Tracy.

According to the Tennessee USDA Rural Development website, Tracy officially became a federal employee on November 13, 2017. His hosting a fundraiser for Reeves three days later was therefore a violation of federal law.

Under the Hatch Act, federal employees may attend a political fundraising event but may not host one. In the email, Tracy is named as the “host” of the fundraiser. The subject line of the email names Tracy as the one inviting potential donors to the event, the email was copied to Tracy so that he was aware of its contents, and Barrett is a professional fundraiser whom Tracy has employed in the past.

As for the USDA’s reaction to complaints about on of their newest members, several outlets are reporting that department spokesperson Jackie Susmann responded to requests for comment with a one-line reply: “This matter has been brought to the attention of USDA and we are looking into it.”

 

 

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