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Tracy accused of Violating Federal Fundraising Law

Posted on Friday, January 19, 2018 at 11:32 am

An official complaint has been filed with the federal Office of Special Counsel alleging Jim Tracy, newly appointed U.S. Department of Agriculture Director of Rural Development for Tennessee, violated the Hatch Act. Tracy allegedly hosted a political fundraising event for Republican candidate Shane Reeves, causing the allegation of violating federal law. The complaint was filed by retired schoolteacher John Anderson of Bell Buckle. Reeves has been a political associate of Tracy and is running for Tracy’s abandoned seat in the Tennessee state Senate. According to Anderson, an email was sent out by Reeves’ Campaign Finance Director Rachel Barrett on November 7, 2017 asking recipients to attend a November 16 campaign fundraising event for Reeves to be hosted by Tracy. Barrett is a professional fundraiser whom Tracy has employed in the past. According to the Tennessee USDA Rural Development website, Tracy officially became a federal employee on November 13, 2017. His alleged hosting of a fundraiser for Reeves three days later was therefore a violation of the federal law known as The Hatch Act, according to the complaint. Under the Hatch Act federal employees may attend a political fundraising event but may not host one. According to Anderson, in the email Tracy is named as the “host” of the fundraiser. The subject line of the email names Tracy as the one inviting potential donors to the event. Barrett was in charge of fundraising for Jim Tracy’s failed 2014 bid for a seat in Congress. Reeves was Tracy’s finance chairman for that campaign. The Hatch Act prohibits a federal employee from soliciting campaign contributions for a partisan political candidate. On its official website, the federal Office of Special Counsel says, “A federal employee may attend a fundraising event, but “hosting” such an event violates the Hatch Act.”

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