Just days after a controversial email sent from the CEO of the Martha O’Bryan Center raised questions about possible illegal political activity and coordination with political advocacy group Stand for Children, one school board candidate held a meeting with Stand’s political director that he claims was not about his campaign and did not violate any laws.
Alanna Autler of WSMV reports:
A candidate for the Metro Nashville School Board is facing questions after meeting with a representative of a political action committee this week.
District 9 candidate Thom Druffel met with Daniel O’Donnell, the local director for the special interest group Stand for Children Tennessee.
The organization has thrown support behind Druffel, along with several other candidates running for school board this election cycle.
The meeting took place at the Holiday Inn Vanderbilt, where Druffel works.
O’Donnell was seen entering and leaving the building Tuesday, one day after a mandatory blackout period kicked in. Under the law, PACs cannot contribute to a candidate during this period.
O’Donnell denies any wrongdoing and says he was taking the day off work. The timing of this day off seems odd given that it allegedly took place just over one week before an Election Day in which Stand for Children seems to have a great interest.
While at least one candidate mentioned in the Martha O’Bryan emails has called for MOB to stop recruiting volunteers in coordination with Stand or in support of her campaign, Druffel had no problem meeting with Stand’s political director and now claims he was just chatting with a volunteer and not coordinating any activity with a group investing heavily toward his election.
Stand for Children’s attorney released the following response:
Stand for Children and its political committees observe both the letter and spirit of the law. Any suggestion that there has been improper coordination between Stand and the Druffel campaign is categorically false.
As Autler notes:
Communication and coordination is also entirely prohibited between independent expenditure committees and candidates.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport