Black Keys Manager Faces Complaint Over Ticket Offer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A prominent member of the Nashville music scene faces allegations that he offered free concert tickets to influence a witness' testimony before a legislative committee.
Fielding Logan is the manager for the rock band, The Black Keys, as well as country star Eric Church.
He insists that he's done nothing wrong.
But the charges -- made in a complaint filed with a state Senate committee -- are adding fire to an already heated debate over ticket scalping in Tennessee.
"I've never had a matter like this ever happen as chairman of the committee," said state Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jack Johnson.
The Franklin Republican received the letter alleging that concert tickets were offered to entice a witness.
At the center of the allegations is Logan, who's been the music industry face for the anti-scalping legislation pushed by Ticketmaster.
One of the acts he manages, The Black Keys, has an upcoming show at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
Now, an offer that Logan admits making for tickets to that show has struck a sour note with Ticketmaster opponents.
"What is clear is that the proponent of the bill, who is the manager of some of the most prominent bands in Tennessee, offered a handful of tickets to an opponent of the bill," said Jon Potter, head of the Fan Freedom Project.
The letter was written by Nashville attorney John Ray Clemmons, who has argued that Ticketmaster's legislation would hurt charities that buy tickets and auction them off to raise money.
Clemmons serves on the board of Nashville RBI, a nonprofit that uses baseball to help inner-city kids.
Last week, the issue came up here before a state Senate committee.
Senate video shows Logan, as he leans over and begins chatting with Clemmons.
According to Clemmons' letter, "Fielding Logan sat next to me after his testimony and began arguing that I was on the wrong side of the issue, that I did not understand it and that I should not testify."
Clemmons added, "He then twice offered me what he described as really good tickets to the upcoming Black Keys concert.... as a donation to my nonprofit."
On top of that, Clemmons said that Logan even typed out the offer on his smart phone -- again something the Black Keys manager doesn't dispute.
"It is clear that he offered me these tickets just before my testimony to keep me from opposing the bill," Clemmons concluded.
Potter expressed outrage.
"The idea that people on one side are slipping tickets or money or gifts to people on the other side to get them to walk away should be very disappointing to the citizens of Tennessee and to the members of the committee," he said.
Logan declined to appear on camera, but he told NewsChannel 5 Investigates by phone that he was just trying to demonstrate how easy it would be for acts to pull tickets to be sold for the benefit of charities -- nothing more.
"I really have nothing to hide here," he added.
As for Sen. Johnson, he said he hopes that's all it was.
"The better side of me hopes that there was no intention for manipulation or malfeasance or anything of that nature to unduly try to influence the process of the committee -- that's my hope," Johnson said.
Logan told NewsChannel 5 that he was offended that anyone would suggest he did anything improper.
Late Tuesday night, Logan provided NewsChannel 5 with a letter that he himself sent to Chairman Johnson.
In it, he states that Clemmons' letter "mischaracterizes our conversation."
"I never asked - not verbally and not in writing - that Mr. Clemons (sic) refrain from giving testimony in front of the Senate Commerce Committee that day. In fact, I only said that I believed the premise of his testimony to be incorrect. I offered his organization tickets to The Black Keys show on May 3rd to demonstrate that paperless tickets can be transferred for the purpose of helping charities.
"There is nothing in the Fairness in Ticketing Act that limits what a non-profit can do with tickets they have purchased or received as a gift."
Still, Johnson referred the letter to the Senate clerk. The Senate clerk said that he will refer the case to Nashville DA Torry Johnson to decide whether any laws might have been broken.
Right now, there is no evidence that any such offer would have been illegal.
Clemmons also declined to discuss the letter on camera.
As for the legislation, it passed two committee votes Tuesday.
It would, on its face, outlaw certain questionable sales techniques by scalpers.
But even the House sponsor acknowledged it could potentially allow Ticketmaster to require that any ticket resale be done through the ticketing giant's own websites -- and that's what the real legislative battle is about.