Being an elected legislator means you have lots of responsibilities.
You’ve got to represent your constituents to the best of your ability. You’ve got to propose and help craft legislation that ultimately benefits those constituents in some way. You’ve got to meet with your constituents so you can hear their concerns, and update them on what you’ve been doing.
Sometimes you have to talk to the media. Sometimes you have to appear at events because, that’s what politicians do. Sometimes, you may not want to.
But that’s the job, and if you spend all that time getting elected, you darn sure ought to take that into account.
So when a member of the State Legislature is asked to debate a bill they are sponsoring, you would think they’d be more than happy to do so. But what if they wanted a fee?
That’s where it gets dicey.
Below are screen captures from a Facebook note posted by Del Shores in which he challenged State Senator Stacey Campfield to debate his bill SB0049. Campfield agrees, but wants $1000 for a “retainer” and reimbursement for unspecified “expenses”.
Wha? He wants a grand to debate a bill he’s sponsoring? That ain’t right.
I’m not sure what planet Stacey Campfield is from, but where does he get off demanding for a grand to defend a bill that he’s proposing in the State Legislature? If this isn’t an ethics violation, it sure is in bad taste.
The people of Knoxville should be outraged that one of their elected officials would demand money from constituents in return for executing the duties of his office.
It is absurd.
There are a lot of questions this should bring up:
Is any of this “retainer” going to him personally, or to his campaign coffers? What reporting requirements would there be in receiving this money? And what “expenses” could State Senator Campfield possibly incur? Why would he even ask that?
In the end, this seems like a way for Senator Campfield to avoid a debate he knows he can’t win. Put a price on it that is so out of reach its unattainable.
Way to represent the public Senator Campfield. I’m sure your constituents will feel secure in the knowledge that you are seeking to profit personally from executing the duties of your office.
Here is the full text:
TENNESSEE EQUALITY PROJECT TURNS DOWN SPONSORING DEL SHORES/STACEY CAMPFIELD DEBATE
by Del Shores on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 12:04pm
As most of you know Tennessee Senator Stacey Campfield has agreed to debate me regarding hisDON’T SAY GAY BILL – and homosexuality and the Bible. Campfield has asked for a $1000 fee (to be paid in advance) and his expenses paid for the debate. In two separate facebook messages, he wrote to me:
* I will happily debate you. I require a $1000.00 retainer fee and all expenses covered. You can do with the rest all you want.
* I will debate you where ever you set up and pay my expences to go to (In advance). Just let me know.
Senator Campfield is based in Knoxville and I think that would be a good place to have this debate. I felt that it would be best to partner with a Tennessee Equality organization, to raise awareness, to send a strong message to our gay youth and to expose this man and this ludicrous bill.
Yesterday, I contacted the Tennessee Equality Project to see if they would sponsor the debate. This seems to be a great organization and I thought would be a great fit. Here are are exchanges:
FROM DEL SHORES TO TEP:
Stacey Campfield has agreed to debate me regarding homosexuality and the Bible. This could create huge awareness and raise money for TN Equality. Wondering if you would like to sponsor, promote and make this a very big news deal. He has asked for $1000 plus expenses… I will take nothing, but could promote the hell out of it with my fanbase… del shores (sordid lives, Queer as Folk, Southern Baptist Sissies, etc) http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150215908617189
TEP’S JONATHAN COLE’S RESPONSE
Dear Mr. Shores,
Thank you for contacting Tennessee Equality Project regarding a debate with Senator Stacy Campfield on his Don’t Say Gay bill, homosexuality and the Bible. After discussing your offer with TEP’s Executive Committee, we have concerns about such an event.
TEP’s PAC struggles to raise campaign funds for legislators who are equality advocates in Tennessee, especially during a recession. TEP cannot justify raising money for an event that would financially benefit Sen. Campfield in his pursuit of anti-LGBT legislation to its donors. The fact that Campfield refused to debate his bill or homosexuality and the Bible without a $1000 retainer fee plus expenses demonstrates to us that his only purpose is to use LGBT issues to fund his political and personal ambitions. His request for a fee may violate ethics rules. Sen. Campfield is a public servant who is paid by the State of Tennessee for his time as a legislator which includes debating his proposed legislation.
We are thankful to you for exposing Campfield’s true motives and your willingness to take him on at your own expense. However, based on Campfield’s criteria for agreeing to a debate, Tennessee Equality Project cannot justify sponsoring or promoting a debate that would financially benefit Senator Campfield.
TEP Board Chair
MY RESPONSE TO TEP’S RESPONSE
Thanks for the reply.
So you are basically turning down an opportunity for huge nationwide exposure and coverage to benefit your organization because of his request for $1000, which I agree is inappropriate, but this is something that could be used in every press release, every interview, every article for more exposure of his true self. And if it violates ethics rules, why wouldn’t you want that scandal and possible investigation?
I can see where you could take the position that Stacey Campfield may be using the LGBT community, but we would be using this amazing opportunity to raise awareness and money for Tennessee Equality.
I was not asking TEP to pay for Campfield’s fee, just to sponsor and reap the benefits. Very very short sighted, in my opinion given what this could do for our community, our youth and the exposure of this man and his hate and this ludicrous bill.
My main purpose for this debate is to show our youth know that they are not less than, they are not alone.
Oh well. Thanks for considering.
“To be understood is to be exposed.”
READERS: In all this, please let me know your opinion and PLEASE disagree with me if you do! Also, I support TEP and just sent them a donation because I believe in what they are doing! Please do likewise if you are so inclined! And please know that all opinions are valid.
I certainly do NOT want this to divide our community, but unite it. I still need to find a way to debate this man, with the greatest exposure for LGBT Equality and to show our youth that they are not alone. Suggestions, thought are welcome.