Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.– Leahy welcomed Terri Nicholson and Michelle Foreman, members of the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee to the show.
During the second hour, Leahy questioned Foreman about the recent events that took place at last Tuesday’s meeting with Governor Lee who allegedly yelled at a Republican constituent that questioned his refugee resettlement stance.
Leahy: In the studio with us, Terri Nicholson and Michelle Foreman, both members of the Republican State Executive Committee. And Michelle has a first-hand witness story account of what the governor said. Factually incorrect about the counties having to defer to the state on this issue.
Speaking of that, our top story at the Tennessee Star today. Tennessestar.com. No more refugees, Loudon County tells Governor Bill Lee. Loudon County commissioners this week went against Republican Gov Bill Lee and unanimously passed a resolution saying they want no more refugees in their county.
“Loudon County does not want to be forced into resettling additional poor and uneducated people who have lack job skills and do not speak our language. These refugees will stay on unemployment for several years after their arrival and compete for the same jobs as our already large number of SNAP recipients.”
Now, Michelle and Terri, I want to come back to you with this. So there is a comment here from one of our readers on the story, Mary says the following: Mary says, “I’ve been told by officials in Loudon County that these county resolutions are meaningless and carry no weight or authority.” Michelle Foreman, you’re in law school. (Chuckles) Is this true?
Foreman: No. And this is actually what the president is asking for in this executive order. He’s asking for the local opinion. And that comes in the resolution.
Leahy: Literally, it’s a written agreement to accept.
Leahy: There’s a written document now from Loudon County which says, no, we don’t want to accept them. They are following the law. Terri Nicholson, you told me in the break that there are several more counties that are considering this resolution.
Nicholson: Yes. I’ve been contacted to send out…
Leahy: To send out…
Nicholson: Other resolutions to some more counties. So we’re probably up to about seven counties.
Leahy: Seven counties?
Nicholson: Seven counties.
Leahy: And what has been the reaction of the folks at the county commissions when you’ve talked to them or the local activists ?
Nicholson: They are very concerned with the ability to house, educate, and fund refugees without their knowledge and without their knowledge and capability.
Leahy: I want to go back to the actual first-hand account that you had Michelle Foreman.
Leahy: About what Gov. Lee said and how he interacted with Tennesseans who were at this event on Tuesday. It’s called the first Tuesday.
Leahy: And it’s run by Tim Scout. It’s been run for a long time and a well-established opportunity for folks to talk about public issues. I’m told that the governor was a little thin-skinned when questioned and even yelled at somebody. Is that right?
Foreman: Unfortunately, that’s correct. So the tone of the meeting was I felt that the governor was a little bit uncomfortable discussing this refugee issue. He’s had a lot of push back, so understandably. The question prior to his lashing out at the lady that was present…
Leahy: Let’s just say, you were present.
Leahy: And the governor lashed out and yelled at a lady who asked him a question about refugees?
Foreman: Unfortunately. Yes, that’s what happened. And so we had just come off of the question of whether the governor was aware that documentation was being falsified in the Middle East, this particular individual had military acquaintances who had first-hand knowledge of documentation being forged.
Leahy: For this vetting process?
Foreman: The vetting process.
Leahy: Of refugees. And the way it works is they have these refugee camps run by the United Nations.
Leahy: And there’s a process they go through to vet them. There’s a security and medical elements to them. Now, I’m told there have been some improvements in the security angle of inter-agency cooperation but, those improvements don’t mean that those improvements problems and folks that fall through the cracks.
Now in this particular instance, there was a military person said documents said they were aware of documents that a refugee had been falsified.
Foreman: Not specifically a refugee. The governor did go in and verify. But it seemed that the way the conversation was going that the individual was indeed talking about refugees.
Leahy: Got it.
Nicholson: So but moving on, the governor went on to expound upon his personal convictions…
Leahy: Ah, his personal convictions because I don’t know if you know this. He’s a believing Christian. He’s never told anybody that. He always tells people that. That’s the first thing he tells you is he’s a believing Christian. And then oftentimes you see that as a tactic used so that no subsequent action is questioned because obviously he’s a believing Christian. We are not a theocracy, by the way, we are a constitutional republic.
Leahy: He’s not the pastor. He’s a governor.
Foreman: And there are many Christians and many believers. We have differences of opinion. And so the governor was expressing where he stood speaking about his experiences with refugees.
Leahy: So he has personal experiences with refugees abroad.
Leahy: He’s gone to some of these camps abroad. His wife has had experience with these refugees. So they’ve got a personal interest in helping refugees. Which is wonderful.
Foreman: They do. They do.
Leahy: But apparently wants Tennessee taxpayers to pay for his personal interests.
Foreman: And it seems that way. It seemed he was becoming more exasperated because he just didn’t have the support and agreement that I think he wants. And as he was expressing his thoughts and his opinions in his heart he inadvertently or advertently made the statement that, what would you do? You know if you have these people, and they need to come in as refugees. They’ve been brutally kicked out of their home. What do you do?
Leahy: Some of them have.
Foreman: Some of them have.
Leahy: According to some reports.
Foreman: Some. One of the republican ladies…
Leahy: From Davidson county?
Foreman: She is part of a Davidson county group. Yes. She said, you just say no sir.
Leahy: OK, so she says to the governor which I think is a very reasonable statement.
Leahy: There a lot of people who are poor and troubled around the world. It’s not our job to save the world. Her question to the governor was…
Foreman: She interjected and she said, you just say no sir.
Leahy: And how did the governor respond to that?
Foreman: visceral emotional response. And he raised his voice and he did yell at her.
Leahy: He yelled at her. He yelled at a Republican constituent?
Foreman: He did. Unfortunately.
Leahy: And what did he say?
Foreman: In not so many words, you may not be concerned, with the vetting process, and I’m paraphrasing, you may not be concerned with finding out who these people are but I am. And this is the way to do it. And I know that this is the correct way to go about bringing refugees in.
Leahy: So her opinion didn’t matter to the governor. Not at all.
Foreman: Not at all.
Leahy: Now after that, did he take additional questions on refugees?
Foreman: He said he I will take no more questions on refugees. Now I didn’t know if he was making that statement rhetorically or just trying to move on I’m not sure. But I did have the executive order question and I thought, well surely he’s not going to tell an executive committee woman that she can’t ask this question. We have to take questions and deal with this. We have to communicate.
Listen to Terri Nicholson and Michelle Foreman in the second hour, beginning at about the 16:50 mark, HERE.
Listen to Terri Nicholson and Michelle Forman in the third hour here:
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