Rex: Lobbyist just made his job harder

Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 11:45pm

Rex has learned a few lessons in life. For example, just because you think you can fix your own plumbing doesn’t mean you should. And, never eat at a barbecue hosted by a guy who cleans up road kill for a living. Or — and this is more like pre-emptive advice — Tiger Woods should probably steer clear of pitching for Virgin Mobile.

At any rate, Rex also knows that you shouldn’t volunteer for something that’s politically rewarding if it’s potentially damaging to you professionally or to your city’s interests.

Which is exactly what mayoral aide Toby Compton has done. Compton is Mayor Karl Dean’s chief lobbyist at the state Capitol and a well-known Republican, facts that serve each other just fine. Though his boss is a Democrat, the majority of the state legislature is Republican, and they like to be lobbied by one of their own.

But here’s where it gets gnarly.

Compton is a campaign donor and public supporter of Knoxville’s GOP Mayor Bill Haslam in next year’s gubernatorial race. Haslam is the chief opponent of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the state’s No. 2-ranking pol who sets the General Assembly’s agenda and has significant sway in legislation that affects Nashville.

“If it’s good for Nashville, it’s good for Nashville — and guess what, [Ramsey] needs Nashville,” Compton tells Rex by way of explanation. “I don’t think there’s a cult of personality there” that would disadvantage Nashville’s interests, he said.

But Compton thought twice enough about the whole thing to obfuscate on Haslam’s campaign Web site: Instead of Compton’s name being associated with his Metro Government job, it lists his professional affiliation with “TC Enterprises.”

“I said it would be inappropriate to list my name in Metro Government, and that’s what they came up with,” Compton explained. He argues against the public disclosure of his real job, but in the same breath defends his political decision.

Compton is a solid citizen, no doubt, and a really likable guy. But he’s stepped in it. He will now have to go to the Hill and try to curry favor with Ramsey — and Ramsey’s many supporters within the General Assembly — on behalf of Nashville when he’s publicly admitted he’s working against the guy.

Rex doesn’t wish for this, but maybe Mayor Dean shouldn’t expect much help next year from the state legislature.

Dread parties

Fresh from seeing his cat featured pooping in a toilet on Fox News, Nashville attorney Adam Dread has been throwing around some holiday cheer and hosting political meet-and-greets.

First, you read that right.

Dread trained his cat to use a toilet, which was then broadcast on Fox News.

And not just the local affiliate — we’re talking the national network. (Rex will count on the online community to make the jokes about Fox airing crap.)

Back to the point:

Dread hosted a meet-and-greet last week for none other than the aforementioned gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam.

But as readers may recall, Dread was also an outspoken opponent of the controversial “guns in bars” legislation, wagging his tongue about the backwardness of the new state law on national cable television stations and in newspapers far and wide.

Which means that no matter how much goodwill Haslam reaps from meeting Dread’s neighbors, it will pale in comparison to the mileage that other candidates will get out of his association with the outspoken Nashville lawyer, saying that the Knoxville mayor is “out of touch” with rank-and-file Tennessee Republicans in the hinterlands.

Rex Noseworthy appears Mondays in The City Paper.

3 Comments on this post:

By: on 12/14/09 at 10:14

The Republicrats are constantly at it, and the constituents end up getting hosed. What else is new? Vote Libertarian!

By: Anna3 on 12/14/09 at 11:57

If one wants access to the "R"'s on the hill and cannot afford Bass Berry & Sims, they should hire The Nashville Public Stretgy Group. This is John Crisp's group and they succeeded nicely for an organization I am part of. ...and we did not have to sell our Bass Berry's to pay them off. They are reasonable in their fee structure and they succeed. Perhaps Dean ought to hire them.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/14/09 at 3:04

I (picture of Adam) Lobbyists.