About the Registry of Election Finance

On Wednesday, May 13, the Registry of Election Finance will (again) review Williamson County School Board member Susan Curlee’s claim that Williamson Strong is a political action committee (PAC).

We have included specifics on the finance issues below. This complaint, however, is just a part of a year-long campaign Curlee has waged against the public school parents at Williamson Strong.

The Context

In June 2014 (the same month we started our Facebook page), Curlee sent an email to more than two dozen people stating that Williamson Strong “needs to be exposed.” [1] This was before her allegations that we were a “front group.” The reasons we need to be “exposed” have curiously changed over time.

Curlee has investigated our emails in two separate school districts and brought a complaint to the District Attorney (we were cleared of wrongdoing). She said we “live to intimidate” and that we want to promote the message that “the government is the ultimate provider.” She said we are working to indoctrinate children and that we are a “front group” for unions. Curlee has previously accused us of pushing the agendas of Pearson, [2] Microsoft, [3] and a Hungarian-American billionaire. [4] She has repeatedly called us a “parent group” in quotes as if the notion that we are parents is suspect.

Curlee has made these allegations on national TV, in the local and national press, on talk radio, and in a speech to a national audience. There is also an anonymous web site that has mirrored her arguments at the Registry and has used unredacted documents she received from her records request. This website, which Curlee has linked to from her school board Facebook page, has spent almost its entire existence attacking us—including our alleged religious views and our mental state.

Curlee has—over and over again—falsely stated who we are, why we exist, and what we have done and said.

She has also accused us of attacking her and her family, harassing her children (whom we’ve never met), and viciously slandering her and her family. This is false. We have repeatedly encouraged her to contact the police but to our knowledge she has not done so.

That is the context for her complaint being heard tomorrow.

Curlee also instructed a national audience to use campaign finance complaints such as hers as a strategic tool. In March, Curlee gave a speech (posted on YouTube) in which she noted that filing a complaint with the election commission “made the news” and called it “an opportunity” to tell her story.

The Money

Tennessee law says a group that makes “expenditures” or receives “contributions” of more than $250 per quarter for the purposes of electing a candidate or passing a measure must register as a PAC.

  1. Williamson Strong spent $0 for the election or defeat of candidates. Williamson Strong did not contribute to campaigns or candidates; even as individuals, none of us contributed funds or any in-kind donations to any of the candidates.

  2. Williamson Strong did not endorse the election or defeat of candidates. Williamson Strong provided links to all those running who had Facebook pages and websites. Williamson Strong also sent out surveys to all candidates and even called them to make sure they received them. Williamson Strong posted all surveys exactly as they were received. Williamson Strong urged people to vote but did NOT urge people to vote for any particular candidate(s).

  3. Williamson Strong has not made any “expenditures.” Rather, parents supporting Williamson Strong have used a small amount of personal funds to pay the miniscule operation cost (web hosting, domain name registration, advertising, etc.) associated with maintaining Williamson Strong’s online presence. These operation costs were not campaign expenditures and were well under $250 per quarter.

  4. Williamson Strong was and is strictly a volunteer effort. Nobody (no individual, no union, no textbook company, etc.) paid for us to do anything connected to Williamson Strong. We are parents and longtime public school volunteers.

Nevertheless, Curlee filed a campaign finance complaint against us on 12/9/14. The Registry issued us a “show cause” notice on January 14. When we went to the March hearing where we were slated to defend ourselves from these allegations, Curlee brought more documents the day of the hearing. The registry decided they needed time to review her additional documents, so we will appear again on May 13.

How will the hearing go? Your guess is as good as ours.

A lot of you have asked if you should show up to the hearing. THANK YOU! There’s no need for that, though. It’s a better use of your time to volunteer at your kids’ schools during all these end-of-year field trips and festivities. We’ll keep you posted.

[1] Email from Susan Curlee to Kent Davis (cc: 27 others), June 26, 2014. Subject: “Re: Re: RE SCHOOL ELECTIONS: IT IS ALL ABOUT DR. LOONEY.”

[2] Susan Curlee, Campaign Finance Report, 10/10/2014.

[3] Susan Curlee, Campaign Finance Report, 10/10/2014.

[4] Susan Curlee, Registry of Election Finance Sworn Complaint, 12/9/2014.