Watchdog: Accountability

Haslam adviser listed as campaign consultant

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Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP) — A newspaper's review of state lobbyist registrations shows Tom Ingram is identified three times as either a "campaign consultant to the governor" or "consultant to campaign for governor."

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported it looked at 17 registrations Ingram filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission over the past 22 months.

Gov. Bill Haslam and Ingram have said previously that Ingram's advice to Haslam did not involve campaign consulting for his 2014 re-election bid.

The filings also described Ingram as a "consultant," ''general consultant," ''independent consultant" and sometimes as a "political consultant."

Ingram told the newspaper that "there's absolutely nothing inconsistent with what the governor and I have said about our relationship. ... Now, what the specific language on the disclosure is, I don't have a clue."

He said someone else at his firm, The Ingram Group, filed the paperwork and he wasn't aware of the specific terms used on the disclosures.

Records show that a worker at the firm emailed the registrations which involved Ingram's 2012 and 2013 registrations for Xerox Corp. and a 2013 filing for McGuiness Group.

"I'm just telling you there's nothing inconsistent about anything we have said about the relationship," Ingram said. "And you can dig around all you want to."

Both men have said Ingram was personally retained by Haslam as a consultant for work related to the administration of state government.

Former Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said he will review the registrations before refiling a complaint against Haslam, a Republican, with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance later this month.

"I intend to review that and certainly give those (registrations) consideration" Forrester said, as he gathers information to restate his case, which was dismissed by registry members this month.

Dick Williams, chairman of the watchdog group Tennessee Common Cause, said, "I think they ought to be questioned about that (registrations). Not to make excuses for (Ingram), but maybe he says he was a little sloppy."

The arrangement falls into a "gray area," Williams said, and legislation on the issue would make things clearer.

Haslam spokesman David Smith said, "It's not appropriate for me to characterize Tom's filings. But the governor's been perfectly clear about their relationship."

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