Stand for Children, Tennessee charter candidates face $685K in fines


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A pro-charter school organization and the four Nashville school board candidates it backed last month could face steep penalties over possible campaign disclosure violations.

Education advocacy group Stand for Children and candidates Miranda Christy, Thom Druffel, Jane Grimes Meneely and Jackson Millerare could be slapped with fines of up to $685,000, The Tennessean reported.

Drew Rawlins of the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance said, however, the figure was a maximum.

“It could be anywhere from $0 to that amount,” he was quoted as saying.

According to a letter sent Tuesday by the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance to the involved parties, the candidates reported incorrect figures on multiple disclosures.

Stand for Children’s two political action committees are accused of coordinating with the pro-charter school candidates, causing each of the four to eclipse their campaign contribution limits. Stand for Children had a heavy influence on the Nashville school board race, spending over $200,000 in July on the race.

“I am appalled at the money that was put into this race,” said school board member Jill Speering, who easily defeated Grimes Meneely despite being dramatically outraised. “It’s going to be interesting to see what the findings are and what kind of action is taken.”

A hearing is set for Oct. 12.

Druffel’s attorney, Dan Haskell, said his client has been cooperative during the investigation. The other three candidates did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment Wednesday.

Stand for Children’s attorney Stephen Zralek said the organization “meticulously followed the law and we look forward to all the facts coming out.”

Consumer rights group Tennessee Citizen Action and a Metro Nashville parent filed a complaint against Stand for Children and the candidates Aug. 4 after The Tennessean published stories documenting emails between Stand for Children’s political director, Dan O’Donnell, and the executive director of the Martha O’Bryan Center, a nonprofit group that operates two charter schools.

The registry board launched an investigation Sept. 14 upon determining there was sufficient evidence.

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