The Bill Lee Transition team announced another appointment with the creation of a new position to focus on criminal justice reform and rural initiatives. Brandon Gibson, from Crockett County in West Tennessee, will serve as a Cabinet Level Senior Advisor to Governor Bill Lee. She is currently a Court of Appeals Judge in the Western Division, the sole woman on that panel of judges. Her selection will leave the Western Division as a completely male domain.
She is a 1996 graduate of Mississippi State University with a BS in Agribusiness, received a Masters in Agribusiness Management from Mississippi State in 1997 and graduated from SMU law school in Dallas, Texas in 2000. After a brief stint with a law firm in Texas she moved to Jackson, Tennessee and practiced law until appointed by Governor Bill Haslam to serve on the Court of Appeals in September 2014.
While the release announcing her appointment touts her as a “principled conservative” there seems to be scant evidence of any conservative political involvement on her behalf. Her federal campaign political donations, as reported at the Federal Election Commission website, include contributions to notorious anti-anti-trumpets Senator Bob Corker (2012) and Mitt Romney (2012), along with former Congressman Stephen Fincher (who initially challenged Blackburn for Corker’s Senate seat), and 8th District Congressman David Kustoff. No contributions from Gibson are reported to Senator Marsha Blackburn or President Donald Trump.
Gibson’s contribution pattern fits the anti-Trump and anti-Marsha Blackburn composition of Lee’s senior staff, including Chief of Staff Blake Harris and Chief Operating Officer Butch Eley, who donated to $1350 to Democrat Phil Bredesen in his campaign against Blackburn.
Of course, Lee himself made donations to Bredesen and scandal-ridden liberal now-former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry in the past.
West Tennessee political activists say Gibson can attribute her Appellate Court appointment in 2014, despite a lack of any judicial experience, and her selection by Lee, to her close relationship with Fincher, who is also from Crockett County. Gibson’s husband is Joe Gibson IV, as reported in the Haslam administration’s announcement of her appointment. According to the Crockett County website, Joe Gibson IV is a county commissioner in Crockett County.
His support for reviving the Ex-Im bank, and collection of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the financial services industries after he announced he would not seek reelection, raised eyebrows as well. The fact that almost all of Fincher’s fundraising was from DC rather than from Tennessee certainly made it clear that his desire to clean up the special interests had become a desire to profit from the special interests.
Similarly, Governor-Elect Lee has already abandoned his promised plan to challenge “the influence culture of insiders” in Nashville that was part of his Ten for Tenn contract with Tennesseans. Did Fincher and Gibson convince him to eliminate that portion of his “contract”?
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