Multiple sources tell The Tennessee Star that TN-5 candidate Kurt Winstead’s wife, Democrat lobbyist Beth Winstead, holds a firm grip on his campaign apparatus and advocated in favor of the three-year residency law which mandates that candidates in federal races in Tennessee must be residents of the state for three years in order to qualify to be on a partisan primary ballot.
The Star reached out to Beth Winstead, asking if the lobbyist could comment on the following questions:
1 – How have your professional lobbying activities intersected with your husband’s campaign for TN-5? For example, several of your clients are donors to your husband’s TN-5 campaign.
2 – Is there a conflict of interest there? What steps have you and your husband taken to ensure that these clients are not expecting anything in return should he be elected to the U.S. House? Would you consider stepping down from your lobbyist position?
3 – Multiple sources state that you expressed support for the 3-year residency law, to legislators, legislative aides, et cetera. Could you comment on your involvement in supporting the 3-year residency law?
Beth Winstead refused to address the questions or deny the reports that she helped push the residency legislation, replying, “I am not the candidate, and will defer to the campaign to answer your questions. Thank you.”
Kurt Winstead’s campaign did not return requests for comment as of press time.
Winstead himself once worked for his wife’s firm, McMahan Winstead and Richardson.
That residency law passed both the State House and State Senate overwhelmingly in late March and became law without Governor Lee’s signature. The Tennessee secretary of state’s office later said that legislation would not take effect for the 2022 elections.
Many political observers believe, at least in part, that legislation was targeted at the now-disqualified and former TN-5 candidate Morgan Ortagus, who had registered to vote in the state mere months prior to declaring her run for the seat.
Once endorsed by former President Trump, Ortagus threw her support behind Kurt Winstead in the race for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District seat after being disqualified from the ballot by the Tennessee Republican Party.
Three individuals spoke with The Star on background. Two of them are General Assembly staffers and one is a Tennessee state senator.
“Yes, Beth Winstead was a part of the effort to pass the residency bill. There were a lot of folks interested in getting that done and she was one of them,” the State Senate staffer said.
“I remember Beth Winstead was interested in seeing that legislation get through the House. She gets things done, so her advocacy for the bill certainly helped,” a State House staffer said.
A Tennessee state senator additionally told The Star on background, “Beth Winstead was definitely part of the process to pass the residency bill. She’s a Democrat lobbyist, you know. Republicans and Democrats all love the residency bill. They want to be represented by Tennesseans.”
Previously reported by The Star, Beth Winstead is reportedly heavily involved in his campaign apparatus and has brought her significant influence to bear on her husband’s campaign fundraising. Beth Winstead is a lobbyist at McMahan Winstead & Richardson, and has also donated to Democrats and voted in several Democrat primaries.
Beth Winstead’s Democrat donation history shows contributions of $250 to Hillary Clinton for President in 2007, $250 to Bob Clement for U.S. Senate in 2002, and Friends of John Tanner in 2000.
Beth Winstead also voted in the 2004 Democrat presidential preference primary and voted in the 2000, 1996, and 1994 August Democrat primaries.
Her history does show Republican donations and participation in GOP primaries, which would not be uncommon for a lobbyist.
Her professional biography says she served in the administration of former Gov. Ned McWherter (D-TN) and served in Nashville Democrat Mayor Phil Bredesen’s administration “where she was instrumental in bringing the Tennessee Titans NFL team to Tennessee.”
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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 GETTR, Twitter, Truth Social, and Parler.
Photo “Beth Winstead” by McMahan Winstead & Richardson. Background Photo “Nashville Skyline” by Bill Penn. CC BY 2.5.