Davidson County Election Commission Suing Citizens for Putting Tax Cut on Ballot, Calling it ‘Unconstitutional’


The Davidson County Election Commission has recruited a legal team to sue the citizens’ group Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee (AFP-TN) for its December ballot tax cut petition.

Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Bill Koch will serve as lead counsel, and Junaid Odubeko the co-counsel.

The Taxpayer Protection Act is an amendment that would roll back the 32 percent property tax increase and limit property tax increases made without the people’s approval to 2 percent annually. The act is backed currently by over 26,000 Davidson County residents – 6,000 more petitioners from when AFP-TN turned in 20,000 signatures at the end of last month.

Mayor John Cooper called it a “poison pill.”

Cooper first proposed the 32 percent tax increase in April. The Metro Council approved the property tax increase in mid-June.

The AFP-TN expressed disbelief that the city would expend more taxpayer dollars to fight something that taxpayers want.

“Well I think it’s bad policy to write a blank check when Metro’s finances are in as bad a situation as it is. I can say that I don’t make $400 an hour or anything like that,” AFP-TN State Director Tori Venable said.

So far this year, Davidson County residents have endured the financial and personal burdens imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, a tornado, and riots.

AFP-TN, along with other small citizen groups, immediately began collecting signatures after Cooper’s proposal to petition that the city put their tax increase to a vote. Metro’s Director of Law Robert Cooper Jr. issued a legal opinion on Monday calling the amendment “unconstitutional” and “unlawful.”

“No, the proposed charter amendment is not legal and enforceable. It is defective in form and conflicts with the Tennessee Constitution and state and local law in the [various] ways,” he said.

Several weeks ago, Cooper requested an additional $82.6 million in federal government funding to offset COVID-related losses. Governor Bill Lee denied the request. Lee stated that the previous $121 million funding should have proved sufficient to cover pandemic expenditures.

The commission plans to meet Tuesday, October 6 at 3 p.m. EDT.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Davidson County Election Commission Office” by Davidson County Election Commission.









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12 Thoughts to “Davidson County Election Commission Suing Citizens for Putting Tax Cut on Ballot, Calling it ‘Unconstitutional’”

  1. John Reynolds

    The usual route would be to challenge the ballot referendum after voters approve. Suing on constitutional grounds before this is put to a vote is bizarre. It would be like enjoining legislation before it gets approved by elected representatives. The chancellor will dismiss the petition on standing grounds in all likelihood, and the issue will go back to court after it passes.

    Reading the earlier comments, there seems to be some confusion between Cooper (Metro legal) and Koch, who actually is a fine and honorable man. The problem is with the Election Commission hiring him, not with the attorney himself. Yes, he has a lot of influence because he is a former chief justice and it is probably why he was hired. A chancellor will look past that aspect, though. Unless there was some defect in the petitions, the Election Commission most likely will be ordered to put the measure before voters.

    If there is any upside, Metro Legal may make it harder to challenge the ballot measures after the referendum passes with this frivolous lawsuit if it appears the issues raised later have been decided.

  2. rick

    Cooper’s metro attorney made this unconstitutional charge up out of whole cloth to give the election commission an out, its all rigged and a done deal. Council people should identify themselves, when they post. Cooper and his election commission will sue anyone that post anything against what the king wants to do! He was mean and nasty enough to make a lot of people lose their homes, livehood and their business. Do not put anything past him! A true democrat!

  3. Teddy

    Horatio, some of your comments are factually incorrect. How Justice Koch was selected to his position on the Supreme Court is irrelevant to this situation. He presently is Dean of Nashville School of Law and is a man of great integrity & competence.

    Koch is not the one that is claiming the referendum is unconstitutional; that would be Robert Cooper, the Mayor’s attorney. The election commission is simply asking the court for clarification on some issues related to the petition.

    I hope the citizens get to vote on the referendum.

  4. Larry H

    If the people find out that they are only allowed to vote on issues when the inside elite decide it is okay, eventually they will choose bullets over ballots as their voting option.

    If the court rules in favor of the populace, who will then guarantee that the voting process isn’t another Hopewell Box?

  5. Wolf Woman

    If the court sides with the Voting Commission and decides that we can’t vote on a tax increase, what would happen if 20,000 or more Nashvillians decided not to pay their tax bill? Can Metro arrest us all and take us to court? How much would that cost the city? It would certainly get national and even international publicity for our tyrant of a mayor and his corrupt cronies. Just asking for a friend.

    1. Mary

      What happens when thousands of people CAN”T pay their tax bill after being closed down for months? With the pandemic and shutdown, will SOP apply? If so, who benefits from that?

  6. Tom Richardson

    If you want the insanity to end, STOP ELECTING DEMOCRATS! #StraightRedTicket2020 in person from President Trump down to Dog Catcher!

  7. John

    I think it’s time we had the feds come in and take a closer look at this so-called Davidson County Election Commission.

  8. Julie

    When does the local mainstream media ask Mayor Cooper why he is against the taxpayers voting on this? Would they be considered the voice of the people or the voice of their employers? This is part of the problem: https://www.webfx.com/blog/internet/the-6-companies-that-own-almost-all-media-infographic/

    1. 83ragtop50

      I can answer your quest. Never!

  9. Horatio Bunce

    “Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Bill Koch will serve as lead council…”

    Koch was illegally “selected” for that position by his lawyer buddies under the Democrats unconstitutional Tennessee Plan, rather than “elected by the qualified voters of the state” as was required by the plain language of the constitution. All judgements he made while in that usurped position should be null and void. The fact that he accepted that role, circumventing both the people and the state constitution, is indicative of the attitude his clients have toward the people and matters of the constitution. Time to abolish…

  10. Randy

    It matters who governs. We self govern, therefore if we the people do not provide proper oversight through competent elected officials the we end up with people like this in office. We must also guard against asking our elected officials to provide for more than we can afford. Government must live within its financial means. It must also be open and honest with the public.