Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee donated $164,540 to candidates for federal and state offices during the 19 year period beginning in 1999 and ending in 2017, according to records provided to The Tennessee Star by the Lee campaign.
Of that amount, 99.27 percent, or $163,340, went to Republican candidates, while 0.73 percent, or $1,200, went to Democratic candidates.
Notably, as The Star reported on Saturday, $1,000 of that $1,200 to state Democratic candidates went to Gov. Phil Bredesen’s re-election campaign in 2004.
The majority of those donations–$130,640–went to federal candidates, while another $33,900 went to state candidates. (Note: $12,600 of the state candidate contributions were made by Bill Lee’s wife, Maria Lee, and $3,000 of the federal candidate contributions were made in 1999 by Bill Lee and his late first wife.)
All of Lee’s donations to federal candidates went to Republicans.
Three percent of Lee’s $33,900 to state candidates–or $1,200–went to Democrats.
The Lee campaign did not provide a list of Lee’s donations to local candidates and committees to The Star.
As The Star reported previously, Lee donated $500 to disgraced former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, a Democrat, and the Lee Company, which he owns and now serves as chairman after many years as CEO, donated $5,000 to the pro-Common Core Williamson Business PAC in 2016.
“The overwhelming number of donations to Republicans certainly helps Lee deflect his donations to Megan Barry, Phil Bredesen and a group that aggressively campaigned to defeat conservatives in Williamson County,” Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said.
“But the fact that he is on the defensive rather than defining two of his opponents who are leading him in the polls is still a challenge he has to overcome if he is going to carve out a credible path to victory in the next 30 days,” Gill added.
Lee donated $1,300 to the John McCain Presidential campaign in June 2008 and $5,000 to the Mitt Romney Presidential campaign in June 2012, but made no contributions to the 2016 Presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
At the state level, Lee has been a strong supporter of Gov. Bill Haslam, beginning with his first donation of $500 in February 2010, when Haslam faced a tough Republican primary battle against former Rep. Zach Wamp and former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.
All told, Lee has contributed $25,200 to Gov. Haslam’s gubernatorial campaigns, or about 75 percent of the $33,900 he has contributed to all state candidates over the 19 year period between 1999 and 2017. (Note: $12,600 of the $25,200 in contributions to Gov. Haslam were made by Bill Lee and $12,600 were made by his wife, Maria Lee.)
During the 2016 election cycle, Lee contributed $3,500 to five Republican members of the Tennessee General Assembly who were running for re-election: $1,000 to State Senator Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville), $1,000 to Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), $500 to State Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin), $500 to former State Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin), and $500 to State Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson).
You can see the complete list of Lee’s donations to federal candidates, as provided to The Star by the Lee campaign, here:Bill Lee Fed 1999 to 2017
You can see the complete list of Lee’s donations to state candidates, as provided to The Star by the Lee campaign, here:Bill Lee State Donations 1999 to 2017