One of the most well-connected lobbyists in Tennessee is also a personal advisor to the governor. Those ties are under scrutiny as Tom Ingram’s lobbying firm is questioned for not registering on behalf of a client that wants to mine coal on state-owned land.
Governor Bill Haslam says Ingram is paid out of his own pocket for political advice, though he declines to say how much.
“I’m not sure what difference that would make. I’m paying him personally. Is there some reason that would make a difference? He doesn’t lobby me, period.”
However, Ingram’s firm does lobby the state legislature for a list of high-profile clients, including Haslam’s family-owned truck stop chain – Pilot Flying J.
On Monday, the Tennessee Ethics Commission asked representatives from Ingram’s firm to come to the next meeting and explain why they failed to register Hillsborough Resources as a client in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The Canadian company wants to dig for coal on land controlled by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Ethics Commission executive director Drew Rawlins says The Ingram Group could be fined a maximum of $750 per year for not disclosing the relationship.