OFF THE RECORD: Latest Lee Cabinet Appointment Continues His Refusal to Select Actual Conservatives

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.

She recently participated in Leadership Tennessee, and now serves on its Advisory Council — with former Haslam Chief of Staff Mark Cate — whose wife is the executive director of the group.

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.

Fincher left Congress under a cloud of scrutiny related to a questionable quarter million dollar bank loan. One media outlet even named him among the most corrupt members of Congress.

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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Photo “Brandon Gibson” by the University of Tennessee Martin.
Background Photo “Tennessee Capital” by Ron Cogswell. CC BY 2.0.










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6 Thoughts to “OFF THE RECORD: Latest Lee Cabinet Appointment Continues His Refusal to Select Actual Conservatives”

  1. Susan E Gingrich

    I am disappointed that so many Haslam people remain in place. Also, that there seems to be no or little out of the box thinking and process to search for and hire qualified conservatives from other states. For example, leaders who have led efforts in improving education, innovative health care and financing, shrinking government, increasing productivity of government employees, and so much more. I am willing to give the new administration a chance, but being a recovering bureaucrat from another state’s government made me somewhat cynical. My motto from experience is “Bad things happen to people who aren’t paying attention!”.

  2. Kevin Desmond

    I have to say that I find it very distasteful that the Tennessee Star is publishing all these wild accusation against Governor-Elect Bill Lee. Not only are you publishing these accusations but you are doing so Off The Record so we have no name attached to these various comments. Are these Off The Record reports being written by one person or a small group of people? How are your readers to know? If someone is going to continually attack a new political figure who has not even been sworn in or had his Inauguration Ceremony yet then I think your readers should be given the right to know who is generating these accusations and maybe even why.
    It is no great secret to your readers that Bill Lee was not the Star’s candidate of choice during the primary. That did not turn out so well for the Star. Rather than taking your licks and moving on it now seems to me that you are doubling down on your first error and now committing a second more grievous one. Bill Lee won the Governor’s race because Tennessee voters wanted a true conservative Governor to run our great state. Ever since his victory all we have read about in the Star is how Bill Lee is no conservative at all and neither are any of his hand picked staff or cabinet personnel. One thing is for sure, whomever Mr. Off The Record is sure doesn’t give the voters of Tennessee much credit for their ability to elect someone who is conservative. I think if we are to remain readers of the Tennessee Star you owe it to your readers to publish the name(s) of those making commentary and contributing to your publication. I have never seen so many Off The Record articles written in such a short time with almost all of them directed at one person who has not even had his first day in elected office yet. As a conservative voter in Tennessee who supported Bill Lee this leads me to ask “who are you people working for” when you go to this extreme to trash a newly elected Governor who has not taken office? Someone has an agenda that goes beyond reporting the news I’m afraid. I bet I am not alone in this assessment.
    If the Tennessee Star is to remain relevant at all I would ask you to please stop with the personal attacks against Governor-Elect Bill Lee and give the man a chance. Every citizen in American right now has to tolerate nothing but 24/7 negative reporting against President Donald Trump. The national media has become some kind of a cult. They are all drinking the same socialist water and have pure hatred in their eyes for our elected President. Now you folks at the Tennessee Star seem to be taking a similar route when it comes to our soon to be new Governor.
    Just report the news and publish who wrote it. If we the voters of Tennessee have made some huge mistake in who we elected then we are smart enough to figure that our pretty quickly on our own. We don’t need your unsigned commentary to help us draw any conclusions.

  3. Terry

    Repeating the comment on the previous piece reporting on this appointment:

    “Every time this website takes a snipe at the incoming administration without substantive fact to back it up, it diminishes its credibility in the mind of the discerning reader.

    In this instance, what has been the judicial record of the appointee? How is that relevant to the positional responsibilities that she will be charged with? What qualities and background would be ideal for the position and how does she measure up in the pool of candidates?

    Criminal justice reform and rural development are two central planks of the incoming administration and appointing an appellate court judge that grew up on a farm and is an active leader in rural programs like a rodeo and Imagination Library seems a good start. What is the objection and who would be better qualified – is that person even interested in public service? And if this candidate is, in fact, an excellent choice, why not applaud the choice? Failure to do so, again, diminishes credibility.”

  4. Mary

    Bill Lee is becoming a HUGE disappointment.

    1. Stuart I. Anderson

      Not to me Mary!!! He is behaving precisely the way I expect a No Record Candidate running as a freshly minted spanking new “conservative” Republican to behave.

      In fact, I am disappointed by one group of people. Strong conservatives who fall for No Record Candidates over and over again only to be HUGELY disappointed when a Bill Lee is what they almost inevitably get.

    2. Lance Persson

      Mary, To say something so negative without any information is truly sad. People are certainly entitled to express their opinions but when they simply go negative about someone without explaining why they feel that way, in not very responsible.