Apparently unclear whether ethics laws allow outside individuals to bankroll events and scholarships sponsored by the Metro Council’s Minority Caucus, the caucus has found a different route to financially support its causes: a new political action committee.
At-large Councilman Jerry Maynard, president of the 10-member minority caucus, told The City Paper the caucus filed a treasurer’s report Tuesday with the Davidson County Election Commission to start a minority caucus PAC.
Councilman Frank Harrison is the PAC’s treasurer.
“We wanted to make sure that we were fully within the line of ethics,” Maynard said. “There was a question whether outsiders could contribute to an event honoring the caucus and whether third-party people could financially support providing scholarship dollars to be awarded by the caucus.
“That answer was blurry,” he said. “So we took the proactive step to make sure we’re in line with ethics by creating this political action committee.”
Council attorney Jon Cooper said that, “to the best of my knowledge,” this marks the first time council members have formed their own PAC.
Maynard said the new PAC would allow the caucus to “raise money to accomplish our mission of advocating on behalf of equality, fairness and inclusion.” Formerly known as the council’s black caucus, members recently voted to expand — and change its name — to include all minorities.
The minority caucus voted Monday night to form the PAC.
Maynard said funds raised through the PAC would pay for caucus-sponsored scholarships for students, underwrite an annual caucus celebration and benefit future events to honor past caucus council members.
According to Maynard, PAC contributors could be persons from outside the council or caucus members themselves.