Nashville, TN–Community Oversight Now is calling for an investigation into campaign violations by the Fraternal Order of Police’s (F.O.P.’s) political action committee and affiliated campaign committee – the Friends of Police PAC and the Vote No on the $10 million Tax Hike (Vote No) single measure committee. Both committees are seeking to defeat Amendment 1 in this year’s election.
Through our attorney, Jamie R. Hollin, Community Oversight Now has formally requested separate investigations by Nashville’s District Attorney Glenn Funk and the state of Tennessee’s Registry of Election Finance into violations of the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act of 1980. We notified both parties of several glaring campaign violations. These include filing a late disclosure report to the Davidson County Election Commission, and the exclusion of four direct contributions from the F.O.P.’s PAC to the Vote No committee in the disclosure report. We also found that the listed PAC contributions actually exceeded the amount allowable by campaign finance law. The most disturbing violation was an inconsistency in the signatures by the Treasurer and the single measure committee. According to the signature dates, the witness to the Treasurer’s signature actually signed the form two days before Treasurer signed it.
A vote for the ratification of Amendment 1, which establishes a Community Oversight Board, is critical to protecting Nashville’s families and children. It brings accountability and transparency to Nashville’s government institutions. The aforementioned campaign violations demonstrate the F.O.P./Vote No campaign’s willingness to undermine the integrity of the election process. In fact, it shows exactly why an independent Community Oversight Board is essential. The oversight board will layer Metro Nashville government with checks and balances so that every day residents can experience the fruits of democracy.
Throughout the Amendment 1 campaign, we have been disturbed by the alarming amount of outside money that has poured into the Vote No campaign in only one month. The F.O.P. has raised an unprecedented amount of funds, nearly $500,000, considering that it represents a local, law enforcement agency that is funded by Nashville-Davidson County taxpayers. Most of the Vote No donors are not even listed in the campaign disclosure reports submitted by the F.O.P.
Interestingly, the FOP paid more than $462,000 campaigns to an Ohio-based political consulting (Communications Counsel, Inc.) firm that has a reputation for parachuting into cities and running divisive, partisan, and polarizing political campaigns. Collectively, Nashville vendors were paid less than $14,000, while the Ohio-based firm received $462,000. Perhaps this explains the F.O.P.’s cavalier disregard for campaign finance laws.
In addition, the F.O.P. sponsored-television advertisements have falsely accused Amendment 1 of a tax hike. This is disinformation. Further, unlike the F.O.P.’s political action and single measure committees, the oversight board will be subject to democratic checks and balances. Unspent funds will be returned back to Nashville’s general operating budget. It can submit quarterly and biannual financial reports to Metro Council. Its meetings will be open to public and all expenses will be accounted.
We are calling on DA Funk and the Tennessee Registry of Finance to investigate the F.O.P. committees for campaign finance violations.