After local Nashville News Channel 5 investigative reporter Ben Hall began asking questions of a taxpayer-funded state museum, it abruptly postponed until after the election a planned exhibit tour that would have touted Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
The taxpayer-funded Tennessee State Museum postponed the exhibit after Hall uncovered that the museum was working with the re-election campaign of Alexander on the exhibit’s timing and finding funding, aiming apparently to have the exhibit launch and tour while the Senator sought re-election.
“When we first started talking about it, there was a general understanding that he probably wasn’t going to run,” Lois Riggins-Ezzell, the museum’s executive director, told Hall when asked about it on camera.
But emails Hall uncovered show that even after Alexander announced he would seek yet another term as a U.S. Senator, museum officials were coordinating with Alexander re-election campaign officials to try to roll out the exhibit.
Nashville Tea Party executive director Ken Marrero said that this whole situation of Alexander attempting to use taxpayer dollars on his political activities is unfair. “There’s no way anyone looks at this and says, ‘Yeah, that’s fair,'” Marrero said. “Run it starting November 7, next year. Don’t run it while the senator is out there campaigning.”
The budget for the exhibit was estimated to be around $44,000 and would have focused on Alexander’s long political career.
The museum only made the decision to postpone the exhibit after News Channel 5 in Nashville started asking questions. “The decision was made based on all the factors you are bringing up,” Riggins-Ezzell said.
Nonetheless, Alexander spokesman Jim Jeffries told the local TV outlet: “As far as Senator Alexander is concerned, 2015 is as good as 2013. The exhibit is about Tennessee history, and he’s not ready to go down in history yet anyway.”