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Nashville leaders were surprised to learn that its own lobbyists were working to push vouchers at a time when the votes in the legislature for vouchers were very close.
The voucher bill targets only Nashville and Shelby County (Memphis).
Nashville’s lobbying firm is coming under fire from the Metro Council because it also advocates for school vouchers — an issue one councilman says puts the lobbyists at odds with the city’s interests.
According to state records, Adams & Reese managing partner Gif Thornton and three other firm employees are registered to represent both Nashville city government and a prominent pro-voucher group TennesseeCAN, once known as StudentsFirst Tennessee.
Councilman Dave Rosenberg said the city hamstrung itself by hiring lobbyists that can’t represent the city’s opposition to vouchers, particularly because the issue has dominated the legislative session this year.
“That’s something that they should be lobbying against on our behalf,” Rosenberg said. “At least they should not be lobbying in direct opposition to the city.”
TennesseeCAN is funded by the usual billionaires, but was launched by opioid king Jonathan Sackler. Michelle Rhee started StudentsFirst.
Nashville got taken to the cleaners with the help of its own lobbyists.