Justices spending to retain seats on Tenn. SC bench

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Legal Newsline) – With the retention election less than a week away, three Tennessee Supreme Court justices appointed by a Democratic governor are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure they keep their seats on the state’s highest court.

Eight years ago, former Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed three justices - Gary Wade, Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee - to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

On Thursday, voters will decide on whether or not to retain them.

Campaign finance records show the justices have raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to sway voters.

As of July 31, Wade has collected more than $334,000 and spent $256,862.46.

Some of the justice’s larger contributors include James and Natalie Haslam, accounting for $10,000 in donations.

James Haslam III is the majority owner of the Cleveland Browns and chairman of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain.

Wade also recently received several large contributions from Tennessee attorneys, including:

-A $2,000 donation from Jackson attorney Jeff Garrety on July 21;

-A $1,000 donation from Whiteburg attorney Gary Brewer on July 11;

-A $1,000 donation from the Terry Law Firm in Morristown on July 11; and

-A $1,000 donation from Morristown attorney Troy Bowlin on July 7.

Although Wade leads his fellow justices in money raised, the two remaining justices have still both collected more than $160,000.

Clark has raised more than $177,000 – $80,000 of which was earned in the last few months.

The justice has spent almost $160,000 so far, with her largest expenditure coming on July 8 in the form of a $90,000 advertising buy paid to Buying Time – a full service media planning agency in Washington, D.C.

Campaign finance reports show that both Lee and Wade also made $90,000 expenditures with Buying Time on July 8.

Some of Clark’s more generous donors include Tullahoma attorney Lew Conner with $2,250 in total donations; Nashville attorney Anne Davis with a $2,000 donation on July 21; and Jackson attorney Jeff Garretty, who also contributed $2,000 on July 21.

The final remaining justice up for retention, Lee, has gathered more than $161,000 in total donations, almost all of which ($155,225.19) has been expended.

Tennessee attorneys with more recent sizeable donations to her campaign, include:

-A $1,000 donation from Whiteburg attorney Gary Brewer on July 10;

-A $1,000 donation from Franklin attorney Charles Cagle on July 21;

-A $1,000 donation from retired judge Patricia Cottrell on on July 11;

-A $1,000 donation from Nashville attorney Anne Davis on July 21;

-A $1,000 donation from Knoxville attorney Carl Eshbaugh on July 10;

-A $2,000 donation from Jackson attorney Jeff Garrety on July 21;

-A $1,000 donation from Sevierville attorney Steven Marshall on July 17;

-A $1,000 donation from Knoxville attorney Doug Nichol on July 17;

-A $2,500 donation from Greenville attorney John Milburn on July 7;

-A $1,000 donation from Madisonville attorney William Smith on July 1;

-A $1,000 donation from Morristown attorney Steven Terry on July 17; and

-A $3,000 donation from Morristown attorney Jeffrey Terry on July 17.

Several attorneys, including Garrety and Brewer, contributed to all three justices’ campaigns.

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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