published Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann gave to Obama inauguration


by Chris Carroll
Chuck Fleischmann
Chuck Fleischmann
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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    President Barack Obama greets people on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington after the president's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and his wife, Brenda, contributed a combined $605 to President Barack Obama's inaugural committee.

Political observers may find the donations unusual because the Ooltewah Republican supported Mitt Romney and generally lines up against Obama whenever possible. But records show Fleischmann was the only Tennessean in Congress to give at least $200 to the president's second-term kickoff.

Even the Volunteer State's two congressional Democrats aren't listed in the report naming inaugural donors, who gave more than $43 million. Fleischmann contributed $300 and his wife donated $305.

It's possible that other Volunteer State lawmakers pitched in. People who gave $200 or less did not have contributions documented and itemized in Federal Election Commission records.

A Fleischmann aide acknowledged the donations Tuesday in a statement to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

"Congressman Fleischmann's record shows that he fervently opposes the President at practically every turn," Fleischmann spokesman Tyler Threadgill said in a written statement. "However, in the spirit of democracy he and his wife did attend a bipartisan event as part of the inaugural ceremonies."

Threadgill said Fleischmann's contributions covered the cost of two tickets for an official inauguration event. He said he didn't know specifics beyond that.

Held every four years, the Jan. 21 inauguration was the first to occur since Fleischmann won his seat during the 2010 midterm elections. The donations are listed in documents that Obama's inaugural committee filed in April.

Obama's inauguration was financed by a mix of individuals, corporations and other organizations. The top donor was AT&T, which gave $4.6 million in equipment and services, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

Fleischmann's 3rd District predecessor, former GOP Congressman Zach Wamp, said he never donated to inaugural committees for Presidents Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. Wamp served from 1995 to 2011.

Other Tennesseans on the Obama donor rolls include Al Gore III, the son of the former vice president, and former Knox County Trustee John Duncan III, the son of Republican U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan. Both gave $300.

On Tuesday the younger Duncan pleaded guilty to official misconduct and resigned from office, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The newspaper said he arranged to get bonuses for training programs he hadn't actually completed.

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfreepress.com or 423-280-2025.

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