Signal Mountain Rep. Hazlewood deplores the use of Phoenix Solutions for constituents’ work

Signal Mountain Republican MP Patsy Hazlewood and other House Republicans regret using the mysterious, nongovernmental provider Phoenix Solutions for a taxpayer-funded legislative mailer in 2020.

“It would be good to know who you’re doing business with. I thought I did, but maybe not,” said Hazlewood, who moved from House Speaker Cameron Sexton to Chair of the Finance, Pathways and Committee this year Fund of the House was appointed.

The seller, who was registered as a limited liability company in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in December 2019, received payments from House Republicans of more than $ 202,000 before being scrutinized as FBI agents early January the Cordell Hull Building and the homes of three legislators raided.

The company also received independent spending on working on two Senate campaigns, the Times Free Press reported.

Phoenix Solutions used the same zip code as the Faith Family Freedom Fund, another new vendor that made independent spending on paying offensive mail against now former MP Rick Tillis. He ran an anonymous Twitter account criticizing former House Speaker Glen Casada, who is the subject of the FBI investigation. Federal agents began examining the House of Representatives’ actions in 2019 when Casada held the electoral body open for nearly 45 minutes to resolve a draw in the chamber on Governor Bill Lee’s education savings account bill.

First-time Republican MP Todd Warner of Chapel Hill, who defeated Tillis in the GOP area code last year, also hired an Alabama salesman, Dixie Strategies, who used the same zip code as Phoenix and the Faith Family Freedom Fund and asked about illegal issues creates coordination between a dark money group and the candidate’s campaign. Warner said it was “coincidental”.

The Times Free Press reported over the weekend that Phoenix Solutions had told a prospect that it had worked for Warner, even though its campaign funding disclosure did not include expenses for Phoenix.

The FBI raided the homes and offices of Casada, Warner, and Rep. Robin Smith von Hixson, as well as the office of Rep. Kent Calfee and the home of Casada’s former chief of staff, Cade Cothren. Three other employees are also the subject of the investigation.

Hazlewood, who paid $ 3,257 for a legislative mailer, said she did not directly hire Phoenix Solutions to put together the inaugural mailer, noting that she had no reason to worry about the seller at the time.

Speculation has centered on whether Cothren was running Phoenix Solutions after Casada was overthrown by the House Republican Caucus.

“All I heard about Phoenix Solutions was that it was a legitimate company founded by some people who used to be with another company in Upper East Tennessee or Virginia,” Hazlewood told Tennessee Lookout.

She pointed out that the company had done what she asked it to do and put together an information mailer for voters in District 27, which is part of Hamilton County. But the company’s boss, Matthew Phoenix, appears to have disappeared, according to news reports, and has not been reached for comments since reporters started asking questions. The company’s phone number is down.

Republican Rep. Johnny Garrett, a Goodlettsville attorney who acts as the caucus whip overseeing campaign work vendors, told the Times Free Press that he spoke to Phoenix but is now questioning the company’s validity.

Despite her newfound concerns, Hazlewood’s campaign paid the seller $ 1,737 for shipping during the 2020 campaign’s first reporting period and $ 5,565 for a consultation fee in November 2020. Additionally, her campaign gave Smith’s Leadership Pioneers PAC $ 1,500, though she also donated to Tillis’ campaign.

Rep. Smith reportedly got Republican lawmakers to use Phoenix Solutions. Smith, a former Tennessee Republican Party leader, spent a lot of money on the seller, and her political action committee, Leadership Pioneers, said it spent $ 34,675 on Phoenix.

In a December 2019 email sent to former House Chief of Staff Scott Gilmer, Smith wrote that she was assisting several lawmakers with their update and survey of the legislation. Gilmer replied that the law update was approved and told her she could send the bill to the speaker’s office.

Smith declined to comment on Phoenix in January but said she was cooperating with the FBI. Her lawyer said she was not a target of investigation.

Other lawmakers who used Phoenix also raised reservations, including Republican Rep. Jay Reedy of Erin, who paid Phoenix $ 4,263 for a taxpayer-funded inaugural poll mailer.

Reedy said voters asked him about his use of taxpayers’ money, but House spokesman Cameron Sexton approved his spending on Phoenix Solutions. Rep. Tim Rudd, Murfreesboro Republican, also said the House’s GOP caucus facilitated its use of phoenix.

Reedy, who said he had not been made aware of who ran the company, admitted that voters asked him if he had used taxpayers’ money inappropriately.

“I say wait a minute, everything was approved by the House Speaker and worked out by the caucus,” Reedy said.

However, he firmly believed that if he knew then what he now knows about the company, he would not use Phoenix again. Reedy noted that he usually tries to take advantage of business in Tennessee.

Others who used Phoenix for taxpayer-funded mailers were Republican Representatives Tim Rudd of Murfreesboro, Paul Sherrell of Sparta, Kent Calfee of Kingston, and Mark Hall of Cleveland.

Rudd said he used Phoenix for a survey but never communicated with the company and didn’t know who was running the company.

“I just did everything through the caucus,” he said.

Rudd, a former political advisor, said the caucus installed Phoenix in previous election cycles. However, according to government records, there was no spending on Phoenix Solutions in 2018 or 2016.

He noted that when the caucus uses non-government vendors, it insists they use a Tennessee printer. As a result, if multiple consultants use the same printer, they could have the same zip code, he said.

Calfee, who said he was “crazy” for using Phoenix, also paid the seller $ 15,650 for campaign materials and $ 750 for research and surveys.


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