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Haslam Campaign Will Resume Payments To Lobbyist

Haslam Campaign Will Resume Payments To Lobbyist

By Ben Hall. CREATED Jul 22, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Tuesday that he plans to make his payments to political adviser and lobbyist Tom Ingram public, beginning later this summer.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates first raised questions about Haslam's private payments to Ingram last month.

Ingram ran Haslam's campaign for governor and is now a registered lobbyist, who lobbies state officials on behalf of clients.

The governor has said Ingram does not lobby him and that Ingram advises him about state "organizational issues." Haslam has said that it is nobody's business how much he paid Ingram, and it is not a conflict that he lobbies state officials.

But, after fielding questions from reporters, the governor said he plans to start paying Ingram from his campaign account this summer.

"That's a personal decision of something that I can pay Tom to do, but as we move into campaign mode, the campaign will pay him," Haslam said.

All payments from campaign funds are publicly reported, so people would be able to see how much the governor pays Ingram.

Reporters also asked whether it's a conflict that Ingram is on Haslam's personal payroll, while at the same time lobbying state officials.

"People are worried about, well, is there some conflict with me paying Tom and, you know, he's lobbying," Haslam said. "Well, think about it this way, if I'm spending time with Tom Ingram and I'm paying him, are we going to be talking about what his clients want to talk about or what I want to talk about?"

The governor claimed it just made sense to pay Ingram out of his own pocket between campaigns because no one else should have to pay.

"It wasn't fair to have the state pay Tom -- and he wasn't doing political work to where it should be called campaign.  He was literally helping as I thought through organizational issues inside state government," the governor added.

Ingram ran the governor's transition team after the election and helped pick some of the same state officials that he and his firm now lobby.

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Ben Hall

Ben Hall

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Ben Hall is a veteran reporter at NewsChannel 5. He has covered the state legislature, presidential campaigns and is presently part of NewsChannel 5's award-winning investigative unit.