Attack ads anonymous: PAC running ads against Matthew Hill raises $65,000, no donor names shown

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Latest finance reports show 7th, 6th district challengers outraising, outspending incumbents

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Eight-term Tennessee House incumbent Matthew Hill of Jonesborough faces his best-funded opposition yet in the combination of opponent Rebecca Alexander and a political action committee (PAC) that’s unleashed an onslaught of attack ads against him.

State pre-primary reports due Thursday and covering campaign receipts and expenses from July 1-27 show the PAC raised $65,000 and spent $53,155 in a series of direct mail pieces that have leveled a litany of charges, with citations, against Hill.

Combined with Alexander’s $66,992 in spending, Hill is being outspent nearly two to one in the race through Monday — $120,143 to $63,764.

Hill, who has represented the 7th State House district since 2004, raised $34,695 during the pre-primary period, $21,500 of it from PACs. Alexander, who owns a Jonesborough funeral home with her husband, raised $25,054, all of it from individuals.

To date through July 27, Alexander has raised $95,524, including a $20,000 personal loan to her campaign, and spent $66,992. She has not accepted any PAC money.

Hill has raised $56,925 during that period and spent $63,764 (he entered April with a $41,328 campaign fund balance).

The bulk of Hill’s receipts have come from PACs ($28,000) and donations from other officeholders’ campaign coffers ($11,050). He’s received $17,875 from individuals.

Donors to negative ad PAC remain a mystery

Thursday the “East Tennessee PAC” — created just a month ago and based in Ohio — submitted its first required financial disclosures.

Those disclosures don’t show what individuals were behind the PAC’s $65,000 in donations. The records show the money came from another Ohio organization — a 501c4 called the “Jobs and Progress Fund.”

501c4s are tax exempt “social welfare” groups whose donors don’t have to be disclosed, an advantage that many PACs have been accused of using as a way to shield their donors from exposure.

The Jobs and Progress Fund is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Its 2017 form 990 report shows that it gave $100,000 to a Kansas-based PAC and another $75,000 to an Ohio-based PAC.

Challenger Hicks outraising, outspending incumbent Van Huss in 6th

Like Alexander, Tim Hicks has outraised and outspent his incumbent opponent, four-term incumbent Micah Van Huss.

After raising $64,375 in the second quarter, Hicks reported $27,585 in receipts in July. That included a $20,000 loan from himself to the campaign and one $500 PAC donation with the rest coming from individuals.

Hicks spent $56,027 in July and has now raised $91,960 and spent $75,710 through the campaign. He ended the pre-primary period with $16,250 on hand.

Van Huss reported $12,600 in donations during the pre-primary period — $6,000 of it from PACs and $3,750 from committees of other elected officials.

Through the campaign Van Huss has raised $16,470 after entering the spring with a $23,623 balance. He’d spent $29,230 through July 27 and had $10,202 cash on hand.

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