As we previously reported, the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition made their endorsements last week. Many of the endorsees (including Julie Mauck, Joey Czarneski, Denise Boothby, and Kim Little) enthusiastically trumpeted this endorsement. It is unclear, however, who makes up this group, or if it is even a group at all.
Recall that in 2014, the WCHC endorsed Susan Curlee, Victoria Jackson, Beth Burgos, Candy Emerson, and Dan Cash, among others. At that time, their closed Facebook page was administered by homeschool activist Beth Lehman as well as anti-WCS activist Julie West. Ms. West has worked closely with Susan Curlee over the past two years, including in her efforts to remove Dr. Looney from his office. In 2014, the WCHC printed and handed out voter cards telling people to vote for their endorsed candidates.
WCHC’s closed Facebook page is currently administered by activist Julie West. Its 93 members include a number of political activists from outside Williamson County (including a Polk County Commissioner) as well as local anti-WCS activists Claudia Henneberry, radio personality Michael DelGiorno, WilliamsonTrue owner Patsy Writesman, and Denise Birnbaum (who was Candy Emerson’s campaign treasurer, endorsed Laurie Cardoza-Moore in 2015, and supports Susan Curlee and Barb Sturgeon).
So that’s the group? Some local homeschool activists as well as some non-homeschoolers and some out-of-county activists. OK.
But wait. There’s more.
In 2015, Gael Morkel filed an election finance complaint against the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition. (The Registry has not yet heard the complaint.) Morkel alleged the group spent money (printed voter cards) to get candidates elected. At the time, Julie West told the press she wasn’t even sure she was in the group:
“I have been on many Facebook pages for home school parents,” said West, adding that she couldn’t remember the last time she was on the organization’s Facebook page. “I was not aware that I was considered the administrator of the Facebook Page.”
Back to 2016. Given that the Registry had still not acted on Morkel’s complaint, Morkel followed up with them after she saw that WCHC had endorsed WCSB candidates again this year. Morkel sent the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance attorney a copy of the endorsements. Morkel has reported that the Registry staff then called to tell her that Julie West had already called the Registry to say that WCHC isn’t a group at all and that SHE (WEST) IS “ACTING ALONE.”
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So according to Morkel, the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance told her that Julie West said the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition isn’t a coalition or even a group. It’s just Julie West.
This doesn’t square with what Julie Mauck and Joey Czarneski have posted on their campaign pages. Both candidates said that they had contact with someone else at the group, but neither would say whom.
Is an endorsement by the Williamson County Homeschool Coalition an endorsement by anti-WCS activist Julie West alone? Who made the decision about the endorsement?
And let’s be clear: if actual local homeschool families want to form a group and engage in the election, they have every right to do that. The candidates who received that endorsement were very excited about it. The voters deserve to know more about the group in order to make a determination about the value of that endorsement. Is this a group of local homeschoolers, a handful of non-homeschooling activists, or indeed, just Julie West?