Potter, Gray spend big in county election races

By Thomas Wilson


   Carter County Sheriff's candidate Kenneth Potter and county executive candidate Richard Z. Gray have put their money -- and other people's money -- into becoming the county's next top cop and top executive, respectively.
   Thursday was the deadline for candidates running for county offices and in the Democratic and Republican primaries to submit their financial disclosure statements to county election commissions across the state.
   Potter's financial disclosure statement reported total contributions and expenditures of $15,638. Potter received $5,623 by way of contributors giving over $100 to his campaign.
   He also reported receiving "in-kind" contributions of $3,837 ranging from funds for a campaign rally to fruit.
   The Bluff City police chief's total campaign war chest was over 2-1/2 times larger than that of incumbent Sheriff John Henson, who reported total contributions of $7,625 and $7,160 in total expenditures.
   Henson defeated Potter in a special run-off election held in August 1996 after then-sheriff Paul Peters retired. Henson was elected to a full four-year term in 1998.
   Potter's in-kind donations included $2,250 from Albert Harrison of Watauga for "hats, watermelons and cantaloupes" and $1,187 from Floyd Storie of Elizabethton for political cards, pizza and Potter's campaign rally expenses, according to the disclosure statement.
   Storie's support of Potter will probably not come as a surprise to Henson supporters.
   The roofing company owner was arrested in 1999 on a charge of aggravated assault for allegedly shooting into a paramour's residence on Broad Street Extension.
   Candidate John Peters has also mounted a formidable financial campaign, reporting total contributions of $8,125. Peters' statement listed $810 in non-itemized contributions under $100, but only one contributor -- who donated $1,000 -- making a donation over $100.
   Peters financed over $6,600 of his own campaign expenses according to the disclosure statement.
   Write-in candidate Jerry Proffitt also financed a good portion of his campaign himself. His statement reported contributions of $1,300 and expenditures of $3,324.
   A state trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Proffitt entered the campaign as a write-in candidate in June. He had spent nine months serving on active duty at the U.S. Navy base in Pascagoula, Miss., with the military police guarding the U.S.S. Cole.
   The Carter County Election Commission spent the day processing early voters and accepting financial disclosure statements required of all county and state candidates.
   All financial disclosure statements were required to be submitted by candidate in person or postmarked one week for the election date.
   Campaign finance laws administered by the Registry of Election Finance govern contribution limits to candidates in state and local elections.
   According to Tennessee Code Annotated, local elected officials can accept no more than $1,000 from one person, $5,000 from a political action committee (PAC), and total contributions of $20,000 from PACs.
   State law also specifies that a candidate may only use $20,000 of his or her personal money. However, the state's Attorney General has opined that those limits are unconstitutional, thus the Registry reports that it is not currently enforcing those limits.
   Candidates must itemize contributions of over $100 by listing the contributor's name, address, the full amount contributed and the date the contribution was made. Non-itemized contributions under $100 made to candidates do not require identification of the contributor.
   Richard Z. Gray paced all county executive candidates with reported contributions totaling $11,745 and expenditures of $9,733 with just over $2,000 left as the 2002 campaign winds down, according to his financial disclosure statement.
   The former Sessions Court judge's statement included a $10,000 bank loan to finance his campaign.
   Dale Fair also reported a strong campaign war chest, totaling $10,498 in contributions and campaign expenses of $8,582, according to his financial disclosure statement. Fair's itemized contributions reached $4,150 while non-itemized contributions rang in at $6,348, according to the statement.
   County school board chairman Bobby McClain largely financed his campaign himself, reporting expenditures of $9,459 but only $2,100 of non-itemized contributions under $100, according to the statement.
   Brad Green tallied $5,172 in contributions and $4,927 in expenditures recorded in his disclosure statement. Contributions over $100 totaled just under $4,400. The 6th District commissioner who opted to pursue the county executive's seat also financed a large percentage of his campaign on his own.
   Stanley Bailey reported total contribution receipts of $8,786 and expenditures of $6,898 while candidate Kevin Colbaugh reported spending $500.31 with no political contributions taken.
   Candidate Janet Hyder's disclosure statement had not been received by the election commission at 5 p.m. Friday afternoon.
   Incumbent John Paul Mathes spent $2,848 with $2,350 in contributions reported.
   Candidate Russell Kyte led the four-candidate Circuit Court Clerk's race in spending with $3,751 in expenditures reported while collecting a hair over $770 in un-itemized donations.
   Challengers Dexter Lunceford reported contributions of $1,080 and expenditures over $2,500 while Tammy Eggleston's disclosure statement reported $1,400 collected and campaign spending of $1,432.
   Register of deeds incumbent Johnny L. Holder reported spending $4,336 in contributions.
   Challenger Paul P. Buck's statement listed $3,870 in campaign contributions plus over $4,800 for in-kind donations. Buck's in-kind contributions included several billboards, political handouts, postage and Web site design.
   Holder's statement reported non-itemized contributions of $1,400 while the remaining $2,900 of contributions were attributed to Holder himself.