The Vicker's campaign Treasurer, Rebekah Crase, responded and in the process apparently admitted wrongdoing - a Class C Misdemeanor, the same as not wearing a mask "$50 fine and up to 30 days in jail". Rebekah Crase, campaign treasurer for Stephen Vickers, said, "I wanted to respond to the unfounded allegations made by the Chattanooga Tea Party concerning our donors. To offer full transparency, as of today we have had 365 donations totaling $12,269 from 300 individual donors. Some have chosen to give more than once. 359 of these donations were for $100 or less. State law does not require us to disclose the names of donors $100 or less. The following information is direct from the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, given to every candidate running for office:
An individual may only make cash contributions to a candidate of up to $50 (NOT $100 and web donations are excluded, not cash) per election. This would include any contribution placed in a "fishbowl"
Candidates must account for ALL contributions received; they are not allow to accept anonymous campaign contributions (AG Opinion 97-065). Contributions placed in a "fishbowl" are anonymous unless records are kept.
Attached is a complete list of the requirements.
Ms. Crase continues: "It seems that the Chattanooga Tea Party finds this concerning. They call them undisclosed donors, conjuring shadowy figures with nefarious purposes. Instead, our donors are every day taxpayers that live and work in Hamilton County. They gave less than $100 because that’s what they could afford. Why does the Chattanooga Tea Party fear a campaign funded by ordinary people?"
Of course, it wouldn’t be a school board race without teacher support. We have received many donations from teachers across Hamilton County. These teachers gave their hard earned money and we thank them for it. It is unconscionable that the Tea Party would demand their names."
The law is clear on transparency of campaign donations and does not have special provisions for select groups, aka teachers, to be excluded from their contributions. So, we don't demand their names, the law does. We agree that teachers work hard for their money and want to know the candidate they are backing is honest, with a fiduciary record of responsibly managing money, which brings us to our next point. In full disclosure, the same teachers may not know that Mr. Vickers, the candidate they are trusting to manage more than $400 Million in taxpayer dollars, has previous financial management issues himself. Now, we certainly understand financial misfortune can happen to anybody, especially in these challenging times. It's just that we believe a candidate's background must be fully vetted in a competitive arena. Mr. Vickers has every right to explain. We have included court documents on Mr Vickers's previous bankruptcy. It has also been verified Mr Vickers owns no property in Hamilton County for a life long resident.
Which brings us to our final response to Mr Vicker's campaign.
Mr. Vickers said, "It is hard to understand why the Chattanooga Tea Party is so disturbed by small donations in a school board campaign. All campaigns aren’t created equal. Small elections like this are naturally going to be filled with donations by ordinary voters. At least, they should be. By contrast, 82% of the donations to the Rhonda Thurman campaign have come from large donors outside of her district, as well as a $5,000 donation from the Tea Party and private school backed Good Government Coalition. Does the Tea Party believe that only the wealthy should support their candidates of choice? Or that local campaigns should be primarily funded by political action committees? "
To be clear, The Chattanooga Tea Party does not and has not contributed any dollars to any candidate's campaign - just the volunteer time of individuals within our group. Additionally, checking with the Good Government Coalition, its donations came from both within and outside of the District and were disbursed to multiple campaigns.
Our goal is full transparency with all the campaigns, no backroom deals, no hidden donors, sunshine on dark money, etc. We will continue to investigate and shine light on apparent improprieties in our community.