Bill Lee Donated $1,000 to Phil Bredesen in 2004, Nothing to Donald Trump in 2016

Bill Lee

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee donated $1,000 to Phil Bredesen’s campaign in 2004, when the current Democrat candidate for U.S. Senator was gearing up to run for his second term as governor of Tennessee, and did not contribute to Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign, according to reports filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance and the Federal Election Commission.

A spokeseperson for the Lee campaign confirmed to The Tennessee Star that Lee donated $1,000 to Bredesen in 2004, but noted that Lee also donated $1,000 in 2006 to his Republican challenger that year, Jim Bryson.

The spokesperson also confirmed what a review of Federal Election Commission records by The Star revealed: Lee did not contribute to Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign. The spokesperson was quick to add that Lee voted for Trump in 2016 and attended the January 2017 inaugural.

Bredesen’s 2004 election finance report filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance shows that William B. Lee of Franklin, Tennessee donated $1,000 to Phil Bredesen on October 5, 2004.

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This new revelation that Lee, who describes himself as an “outsider” and a “conservative,” donated $1,000 to the state’s most well-known Democrat and ultimate insider in 2004, but failed to make any donation to Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign creates a problem for his gubernatorial aspirations, especially in light of the fact, first reported at The Star, that he also donated $500 to disgraced former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, also a Democrat.

“Bill has said repeatedly that like President Trump, businessmen have to make business decisions in their donations from time to time, and in instances like these, that is exactly what happened,” Lee campaign advisor Chris Walker told The Star.

Walker also noted that “in state and federal races, Bill has donated over $160,000 to political causes and candidates and 99.993% have gone to Republican and conservative political organizations.”

The Lee campaign provided The Star with detailed financial donation records to support this assertion.

Those Lee campaign records also state that Lee has donated $2,500 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN-07) 2018 U.S. Senate campaign, and has made no contribution to the 2018 U.S. Senate campaign of her Democratic opponent–the same Phil Bredesen he donated $1,000 to in 2004.

The Star review of Tennessee Registry of Election Finance records confirms that Lee donated $1,000 to the Republican candidate for governor, Jim Bryson, in 2006.

A Tennessee Star Poll released on Friday shows that Lee has surged into third place in the Republican gubernatorial primary with 20 percent support of likely Republican primary voters. The poll showed Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd in the lead with 32 percent support, with Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) in second place with 27 percent support.

Sources tell The Star that Lee’s Democratic donation problem is about to get worse, and that he also has donated to another major Democratic candidate in Tennessee.

The Star will report subsequent developments in this story when it is able to confirm the facts.



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11 Thoughts to “Bill Lee Donated $1,000 to Phil Bredesen in 2004, Nothing to Donald Trump in 2016”

  1. […] The Star reported last month, Bill Lee did not make a donation to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, though he […]

  2. Bruce

    Don’t misinterpret the truth Tennessee Star. Don’t be fake news.

  3. […] as The Star reported on Saturday, $1,000 of that $1,200 to state Democratic candidates went to Gov. Phil […]

  4. At the end of the day, officials are elected to work together on behalf of the people. If Bill Lee’s crime is that he has shown us early on his ability to work with leaders across the aisle, I think we should PUNISH him…by making him Governor!

    Thanks for writing this article and giving us new insight to this gentleman’s character.

    Changing my vote to Bill Lee!

    1. Stuart I. Anderson

      It really isn’t that difficult for Republicans to work “. . . with leaders across the aisle,” all they have to do is serially capitulate because the liberals in the Democratic Party really take their liberal ideology seriously and wouldn’t dream of nominating a No Record Candidate like Bill Lee. Don’t you worry Felice, whenever Republicans nominate a No Record Candidate they have no problem at all capitulating so you shouldn’t be disappointed.

  5. Kevin

    One must suspect that there’s PLENTY of dirt waiting to be dug up on all of these candidates! We all live and die with the decisions that we make. So all you can do is assess the situation, do your own research and pick a candidate.

    Black has done an outstanding job of spending our money and driving this country further toward bankruptcy. She’s NOT a member of the House Freedom Caucus, why? And yet to come out in this campaign, is how her and her husband profitted royally from no bid government contracts. No, I can’t and won’t vote for somebody who stood by and did nothing as our Country floundered.

    Boyd is a Haslam clone. A Jimmy, not Bill, Haslam, so he has his own devious mind, always working for the “almighty” buck. But he won’t have to wait for directives from the Knoxville mothership. His stint as ECD director was just a prelude to how he will dole out our money as Governor. One for VW, one for Randy, one for Tyson, one for Randy….. And when is somebody gonna connect Boyds manufacturing in China, and the high incidence of child labor in China? Nope, can’t vote for him.

    Beth Harwell could have killed the IMPROVE Act in Committee, but instead sent Curtis Johnson in to push it through. Not in a million years willI vote for her.

    For me, that leaves Bill Lee. I’ve met him. Unbeknownst to him, I’ve talked to some of his employees. Unsolicited, they all spoke highly of him. Has he made some mistakes? Maybe. But for me he represents the best choice. Not a perfect choice, but the best we have right now!

    1. Stuart I. Anderson

      Diane is not a member of the House Freedom Caucus because she is only a tepid conservative with a 78% lifetime Heritage score, an 80% Club For Growth score, and a 69% Conservative Review score. At least that gives her some solid conservative credentials as contrasted with Bill Lee who has NO RECORD of holding elected office, NO RECORD of conservative political advocacy about anything other than a tax break for his company in front of the Williamson County Commission and NO RECORD of significant contributions to conservative candidates pending disclosure of the beneficiaries of that $160,000 in contributions. Unfortunately, if enough conservatives adamantly decide to vote for one of the candidates in the Trifecta of Mediocrity without regard as to who can actually defeat Randy! Boyd, we will surely have the “Haslam clone” you profess to want to avoid.

  6. Kevin S.

    another Diane black attack piece. “My candidate is a businessman who too much like Trump, down to the donations!”

    This is consistent with her true never trump nature, but it is disappointing to see the Star selling out for a few pieces of silver. Shame on you.

  7. Stuart I. Anderson

    How about publishing the list of recipients of that $160,000. This is especially important to those of us who want to know the ideology of a candidate before we vote for him and Lee has no record of political advocacy and he has never held higher office whereas he is running against Black and Harwell who have a long history of both so we have a good idea of what to expect should they be elected Governor. We conservatives know all too well “Republican” doesn’t necessarily mean conservative, and slapping a label “conservative” on something/someone doesn’t make it so.

    1. Horatio Bunce

      I’d say that’s quite a lot of activism.

  8. Terry

    Donald Trump, a former Democrat, donated $50,000 to Hillary Clinton and paid her to attend his daughter’s wedding.

    Making equal financial contributions to both gubernatorial candidates was just good business, it has nothing to do with party loyalty. Perhaps a less disingenuous headline for this article would have stated that Bill Lee provided equal financial contributions to both candidates for Governor. While the body of the article addresses this, and the fact that his financial support is overwhelming in support of Republican candidates, the headline is a bit of click bait, at best.