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State dismisses campaign fund complaint against Beavers

Jared Felkins • Jun 18, 2018 at 8:08 PM

The Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance dismissed a complaint filed in April regarding Wilson County mayoral candidate Mae Beavers’ campaign fund transfers.

The complaint questioned Beavers’ financial disclosures, which showed a movement of funds between several accounts associated with the former gubernatorial and current Wilson County mayoral candidate. 

Drew Rawlins, Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance executive director, said the board reviewed the movement of funds and determined June 13 “the contributions that were made to Mrs. Beavers’ mayoral campaign that were not allowable had been returned to the PACs.”

“There was a $1,000 discrepancy that was found after we began to review, but it was since returned, as well,” Rawlins said. 

Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, withdrew from this year’s gubernatorial race earlier this year after she resigned from the state Senate in August to focus on her campaign for governor. She announced her intentions to run for the Wilson County mayor’s seat in March and will face incumbent Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto in the Aug. 2 election.

Financial disclosures filed with the state showed she donated $122,000 from her gubernatorial campaign to the Patriot PAC on March 30. The donation came one day after the creation of the PAC, which is chaired by Beavers’ husband, Jerry, and John Brown.

Beavers’ donation was also the only donation the PAC received.

Two of the three expenditures reported by the Patriot PAC were related to Beavers, including a $7,800 donation to “Mae Beavers for Mayor.”

Rawlins said the campaign fund transfers did take place, but the money was returned to the original PACs within a day or two before the complaint was received.   

“I don’t want to speak for the board, but I believe the board made that determination based on the fact that an error had been made,” Rawlins said. “We send letters to candidates when we discover an error has been made all the time to get it corrected. I think the board’s vote to dismiss it was based on the fact it had been corrected.”

According to the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance rules, there are several factors the office takes into consideration when determining if a conduit was used to circumvent campaign contribution laws, including the number of sources and donors, the length of time the PAC was active, the timing of the relationship between contributions received, the expenditures made and more.

State law allows state candidates to transfer any excess campaign funds to any future state or local campaign that the candidate establishes, which means Beavers could use campaign funds received during her gubernatorial campaign after the August primary and Wilson County General Election. She would not be allowed to use the funds prior.

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