Jonesborough mayor leading giver to PAC

Gary B. Gray • Apr 11, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Town of Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe is the largest single contributor to Washington County Citizens for Better Government, a local political action committee that recently singled out County Commissioner Mark Ferguson as being “Embarrassing” in a flyer distributed throughout the county.

Wolfe has contributed $5,000 to the group, its first-quarter financial disclosure said. The total amount contributed from January through March was $13,846, meaning Wolfe’s share is about 36 percent of the total. Wolfe is listed as a self-employed contractor.

The total amount is derived from a combination of “itemized” and “unitemized” contributions, with itemized contributions being those over $100 that are required to be published in the disclosure by the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

Notable contributors include Powell Construction owner Jim Powell, who has contributed $2,500 to this point, as well as local developer Ron Gouge at $1,250; contractor Terry Orth at $1,000; and City and County Commissioner David Tomita and Shamrock owner Jack Cox at $150 each.

“All together there are over 30 individuals that have made contributions to this point,” said Sam Barnett, the group’s treasurer. “We also have many that have made unitemized contributions of $25 and $50, and those names are not going to show up on the report.”

The flyer also shows Ferguson gripping his chin. Beside him, the words and phrases “Finger-pointing, Yelling, Verbal fisticuffs and Commissioners restrained by sheriff’s deputy” are checked in red. “Demand more from your elected county leaders: Vote NO on Commissioner Mark Ferguson,” also is printed on the flyer.

Wolfe told the Johnson City Press he was concerned about the “lack of decorum” on the current County Commission and Ferguson was trying to create sympathy for himself after the flyers were mailed.

Ferguson responded, saying he didn’t need any sympathy and that the effort by Wolfe and the group to discredit him was a “personal, slanderous attack.”

“I know that when folks saw the mailing, they wanted to know who had distributed it,” Barnett said. “But we’ve been very transparent about it, and our interest is on developing a more efficient County Commission, reducing the number of commissioners and stopping commissioners from taking taxpayer-funded health insurance benefits. Yes, the first mailer was targeted at Mr. Ferguson.”

Washington County Citizens for Better Government spent $3,640 during the first quarter. The majority of that — about $3,100 — was paid to Collierville-based Margin of Victory Partners, which developed and mailed the flyers.

The limited liability company was founded in 2010 and is privately held. Its website is currently being redesigned, according to www.marginofvictory.com.

Not including the payment to the company, the political action committee paid Barnett $200, spent $224 on a post office box fee and $100 for a registration fee. The disclosure shows $900 on hand.

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