State Sen. Bill Powers (R-Clarksville) allegedly collaborated with the Clarksville-based Wyatt Johnson Automotive Group to illegally fund his campaign, according to a complaint someone filed with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance.
Powers allegedly did this using in-kind donations, said the complaint, which The Tennessee Star received this week.
“An in-kind contribution is the donation of a thing of value or service at any particular point in time,” according to the complaint.
“Bill Powers, as a Managing Partner of the Wyatt Johnson Automotive Group, is alleged to have supplemented his campaign’s finances in violation of the law, without discourse and in excess of limits; specifically by using his company’s advertising and resources as a way to boost his political recognition.”
Powers did not respond to two separate requests for comment Friday.
Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance Executive Director Bill Young would not comment on the matter either.
“Our office cannot confirm or deny this complaint has been filed pursuant to T.C.A. 3-6-202. Thanks for your inquiry,” Young told The Star in an email Friday.
The complaint points to a photo of Wyatt Johnson Automotive staff donating lunch to critical care nursing staff at Tennova Clarksville. The complaint said this pic appeared on the Wyatt Johnson Facebook homepage and the official Bill Powers state senate homepage.
“This photo could be construed to be a political event/post, with Wyatt Johnson Automotive Group’s donation making the event possible,” according to the complaint.
The complaint also said Powers took a political trip to East Tennessee where he allegedly traveled using a Wyatt Johnson charter plane.
According to the complaint, Powers also parked a truck — carrying a ‘Bill Powers for State Senate” sign — in the Wyatt Johnson Dealership parking lot “at a high-traffic location.”
“This, combined with other events that appear to show a collaboration between the Wyatt Johnson Automotive Group and Bill Powers’ senate campaign would constitute a significant series of in-kind donations that must be quantified and declared and is not something the ethics commission can ignore,” the complaint said.
The complaint also lists three separate instances of the Powers campaign’s Facebook page blocking citizens.
“A Facebook public page is an ‘interactive component’ of a local government official’s social media and constitutes a public forum,” the complaint said.
“It appears that the Bill Powers Campaign is engaging in unconstitutional behavior by banning the protected speech from that forum.”
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