Sources Say Gov. Lee Believes His Pick for Attorney General, Brandon Gibson, Already a Done Deal with Tennessee Supreme Court

Sources familiar with the thinking of Governor Bill Lee and his team tell The Tennessee Star that Lee believes that “it is already a done deal” that his preferred choice for attorney general, Brandon Gibson, will get the appointment.

The sources spoke with The Star on background and one said, “It is very well thought by Governor Lee’s team and highest corners of office in the executive branch that the open attorney general seat is a lock to go to Brandon Gibson.”

The sources further said that it is a “generally held belief amongst those high up in the Lee administration and the Governor himself, that she [Gibson] has the job in the bag. ”

“The belief is the only way that she doesn’t get the job is that if she decides she doesn’t want it,” another said.

Sources also said that the level of confidence in the upper levels of Lee’s administration is that Gibson’s appointment seems to be a lock and not even a question in the minds of staff. “They are treating this like it is certain, short of her getting hit by a car or deciding she doesn’t want the job,” the source added.

On paper, Lee has no role in picking the next Tennessee attorney general, as that appointment is made by the state supreme court. Attorney General Herb Slatery III was a close aide to then-Governor Bill Haslam prior to his 2014 appointment to the post.

It was also suggested to The Star that Gibson’s potential appointment has been “presented amongst elites by being in the bag, possibly in order to prevent other qualified nominees from putting their name in. This has a feel of a kabuki process, one that is locked in to one person in order to prevent any real questions or any real process.”

Another said that staff is acting in a manner that suggests “if anyone ever hopes to have something from the governor is that they won’t stick their nose out.”

Gibson is the chief operating officer for the state of Tennessee and a very close aide to Lee.

The Star previously reported that Gibson’s biography on the Tennessee government website reads:

Prior to joining Governor Lee’s administration, Gibson served on the Tennessee Court of Appeals for over four years after being appointed to the court by Governor Bill Haslam. She served as the chair of the Board of Judicial Conduct and co-chaired the Tennessee Bar Association’s Public Service Academy and Leadership Law program.

Prior to her service on the court, she practiced law in West Tennessee. A native of Dyersburg, Gibson earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in agribusiness from Mississippi State University and her law degree from Southern Methodist University.

Gibson serves on the board of directors of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation and on the advisory council of Leadership Tennessee.

Michael Anastasi of The Tennessean and USA Today Network serves with Gibson on the board of directors of Leadership Tennessee.

Sources previously characterized Gibson to The Star as a “political opportunist who has no conservative core and will disappoint the Republican Party base more than Slatery has.”

The Star additionally reported that the position of attorney general is appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court and is the only state attorney general that is a member of the judicial branch, not the executive branch.

Slatery’s appointment includes included a public solicitation and advertisement by the court for applications and a public hearing process prior to the vote by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Candidates who were seeking the position in 2014 had to complete and submit an application and other supporting materials by a publicly specified deadline. The court then notified publicly the finalists who continued on to the public hearing portion of the selection process.

Candidates were given 10 minutes to speak on their own behalf but could yield a portion or all of that time to someone else to speak for them if they so chose.

Additionally, the public was given the opportunity to express opinions about the applicants. After the public comment portion of the hearing, candidates had public interviews with members of the court that lasted roughly 15 minutes.

The Tennessee Supreme Court is expected to reveal the 2022 process that it will conduct in order to select the next attorney general in the near future.

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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected] Follow Aaron on GETTRTwitter, and Parler.
Photo “Brandon Gibson” by Tennessee Office of the Governor. Photo “Bill Lee” by Bill Lee. Background Photo “” by Tennessee Supreme Court. CC BY 3.0.

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5 Thoughts to “Sources Say Gov. Lee Believes His Pick for Attorney General, Brandon Gibson, Already a Done Deal with Tennessee Supreme Court”

  1. DR

    I agree with previous comments. Gov. Lee and many of his appointments have been very disappointing. Take Lisa Piercy and Penny Schwinn–NOT conservatives. It seems to me there is more behind all of these appointments than meets the eye. Is there money being paid under the table?? I don’t know for sure, but I know Someone who does. Of course, we all reap what we sow.
    I like the idea of nominations being made by the SC AND Legislature. then the SC votes and the Legislature approves by a 2/3 majority. The more checks and balances, the better.

  2. lb

    The AG should be chosen by the Legislature after a series of interviews searching for the most Conservative and dedicated/aggressive Lawyer in TN.
    Anyone who fell for Lee’s pitch for Gov that he was a Conservative and a Christian, blah, blah Voted for another RINO just like Haslam.
    This person doesnt seem to have any outstanding qualifications for the AG position but is liked by the Gov so she gets the position. How very WRONG!
    Hopefully by sheddling this light, it might derail and make the SC think twice about being seen as Lee’s lapdogs.

  3. Cannoneer2

    Moving forward, no matter who has the job “in the bag”, let’s dial back the disgusting highest-in-the-nation salary that Slatery was paid. It’s a misuse of taxpayer dollars.

  4. 83ragtop50

    Sure scares the heck out of me with Lee choosing the next AG for an 8 year term. Many of his choices are less than stellar performers. The legislature needs to change how the AG is chosen to be by election instead of appointment and reduce the ridiculous 8 year term to 4 years. I want a voice in who my top lawyer is.

  5. John Bumpus

    A lawyer MUST be able to exercise independent professional judgment if he is to properly do his job. A State Attorney General is inherently an Executive Branch officer, and the job is also inherently political—highly political. The Governor is head of a State’s Executive Branch. How can a State Attorney General exercise independent professional judgment if he is appointed to his office by the State’s Governor? Also, is it a good idea for a State Attorney General to have to raise millions of dollars every four years to run for his office if he is to be popularly elected? This would likely make him unduly ‘beholden’ to ‘big-money’ special interests which is never a good idea. Also, a popularly elected State Attorney General is likely to be strongly tempted to be merely a Governor-in-Waiting with all of the political temptations that this political fact might mean for him vis-à-vis the sitting Governor. And what happens if the people elect a State Attorney General of one political party, and the Governor is from another political party?

    How to solve this ‘thorny’ issue?

    Maybe the best answer would be to essentially leave things as they now are in Tennessee but with some modifications. Let me make a modest suggestion: Have the Tennessee Supreme Court (the judicial branch) continue to appoint the State Attorney General but for a four-year term instead of an eight-year term, but also have the appointment conditioned upon the Tennessee General Assembly (the legislative branch) reconfirming the State Attorney General every two-year Regular Legislative Session. If the Tennessee General Assembly fails to reconfirm as aforesaid, the State Attorney General’s term immediately ends, and the Tennessee Supreme Court must appoint someone else for the balance of the original four-year term.

    A constitutional amendment, approved by the people in a vote, would be required to implement the foregoing.

    This possible plan seems to ‘touch all of the bases.’