300 signatures of 1,600 needed for public vote
• Since the recall petition was approved Feb. 13, organizers have collected about 300 signatures of the 1,600 needed to hold a public vote. Those signatures have not been certified by the Hamilton County Election Commission. The lawsuit Anderson filed to block the petition will have its first hearing on multiple motions March 10.
Of the 40 donors who gave Councilman Chris Anderson more than $100 for his Chattanooga City Council bid last year, just three live in his district.
That is a problem to East Lake resident George Goss, who is among those questioning where Anderson's loyalty lies when he gets most of his financial support from outside District 7.
"When he campaigned, he told the citizens of the 7th District he would improve the streets, living and working conditions. But his financial funds show his support for homosexual activity," Goss said. "His only intention for running is to push his homosexual agenda."
Anderson's contributions show widespread support inside the city limits and in the Democratic Party, where the councilman has been active for years. His campaign manager, Joda Thongnopnua, said it's not uncommon for local public officials to receive financial support from outside their districts.
Since Anderson announced he would run to unseat then-Councilman Manny Rico in 2013, he has received just more than $38,000 in contributions, including:
• $11,150 from political action committees
• $12,000 from donors who gave less than $100
• $14,950 from 40 donors who gave more than $100.
An examination of the donor records shows that Anderson was one of the $100-plus donors along with John Allen Brooks, the husband of his former campaign treasurer. The third is Olan Mills.
A few donors listed business addresses outside the district, and it was unclear where they lived. He received money from the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga and the Tennessee Laborers PACs. There are no contributions from organizations specifically identified with gay-rights causes.
Goss said he is making an issue of Anderson's support from outside the district because Anderson has said organizers of a recall attempt mostly aren't his constituents.
When the drive to recall Anderson emerged in late January, the freshman councilman accused the Chattanooga Tea Party of being behind the effort. He pointed to tea party member and recall leader Charlie Wysong, who doesn't live in District 7.
Wysong, who lives in Ooltewah, had spearheaded efforts to have a public referendum on the domestic partner benefits ordinance sponsored by Anderson and passed by the City Council. City voters will decide in August whether benefits will be extended to domestic partners of city employees.
Thongnopnua said receiving financial support from outside an elected official's district isn't comparable to a group of people trying to unseat the councilman from outside his district.
"Those are two very different things," he said.
Last week, Goss filed a complaint with the Hamilton County Election Commission because Anderson missed the Jan. 31 deadline to file his year-end campaign contribution report. Goss said residents have a right to know who has recently given money to the councilman.
Anderson filed the report, which covers July 1, 2013, to Jan. 15, 2014, on Tuesday, officials confirmed. He could have been handed a $25 fine, but Election Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said officials try to work with candidates who file within a reasonable amount of time.
Anderson's fourth-quarter report shows he received $8,100 in the period. Of that, $7,400 came from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC. The Tennessee Laborers and Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga PACs made donations, as well.
The councilman said Goss's statements are off the mark. He said he has widespread support, including through his involvement in Young Democrats of America and friends across the country.
"It's not strange that I would have friends who want to support me," he said.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6659.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...