by State Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma)
As Phil Bredesen runs for Senate this year, he’s asking you to look back on his time as governor. He is highlighting what he did but he is misleading voters about what that record actually is. He regularly claimed that he “cut meth production in half” while Governor of Tennessee until the Washington Post fact-checked the ad and gave it “Three Pinocchio’s” for being untrue.
While that’s bad enough, the real story is much worse.
I was elected to the legislature in 2002 and wanted to use my experience to solve problems. Having spent most of my adult life in law enforcement, I saw how the scourge of meth and meth labs were impacting rural communities: overdoses and death, children removed from their homes and toxic meth lab cleanup sites.
The problem was huge and required a non-partisan approach. Throughout 2003 and 2004 I worked with both Democrats and Republicans to create the Tennessee Comprehensive Methamphetamine Prevention, Treatment and Control Act of 2004. But when it came time to seek Governor Bredesen’s help to pass the bill into law, I was shocked at his response.
Ushered into a meeting with Bredesen’s Deputy Governor – who later resigned in a cronyism scandal involving the Tennessee Highway Patrol – I was told “Governor Bredesen is not interested in dealing with this issue right now.” I asked why and was told “the Governor just has other priorities.”
To draw the Governor’s attention to the issue and demonstrate how easy it was to set up a meth lab, I worked with law enforcement to set up a lab in a committee hearing room at a press event. The resulting press coverage forced Bredesen to weigh in on the issue.
Governor Bredesen appointed a task force that spent a year touring the state “studying” the issue and delaying action in the fight against meth. When I offered to help this effort, Bredesen sent his Senior Policy Advisor – who was later forced out after a sexual harassment scandal – to tell me the governor preferred I not attend any public meetings of the task force.
For years, Phil Bredesen chose partisan politics over the lives of Tennesseans impacted by the meth crisis. So when I hear him say he wants to go to Washington to find a non-partisan solution to the wave of opioid and heroin use destroying Tennessee’s rural communities, I don’t believe him. And neither should you.
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State Representative Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) has represented Coffee and Warren Counties in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 2002. Rep. Matheny served in state and local law enforcement for many years and is a veteran of the Tennessee Army National Guard.