From state income taxes to public education, everyday life in Tennessee is shaped by the laws proposed and adopted by the state legislature. Of the state house of representatives, of which there are 99 elected members, three of those seats come from Williamson County.
Tennessee’s 61st District, which represents the western portion of Williamson County, is one of those three seats, and the Aug. 6 state primary saw both the Republican and Democratic parties select their respective nominees; Republican incumbent Brandon Ogles and Democratic nominee Sam Bledsoe.
As a means to help shed further light on the source of these candidates’ financial support, ties and otherwise, view below for a breakdown of both candidates’ campaign contributions and expenditures.
Brandon Ogles / Republican
First elected in 2018 during a highly contested Republican primary, Ogles is the owner of Branch Building Group and earned a Bachelor’s in management from Lipscomb University. Ogles is a member of several committees and subcommittees at the state legislature, including the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, the Finance, Ways & Means Committee, and the Joint Pensions and Insurance Committee.
Ogles’ campaign fund balance as of July 29, 2020 was $31,013. This election cycle, Ogles’ campaign has seen a total of $26,823 in campaign contributions, and $312,536 in expenditures, though the bulk of those expenditures were towards a self-endorsed loan.
As legislators are not allowed to raise campaign money while in session, Ogles did not receive contributions or received comparatively low contributions during some cycles.
In the later portion of 2019, Ogles’ campaign saw a total of $25,823 in campaign contributions, the largest of which were two $1,500 contributions from Flex PAC, a Nashville-based political action committee whose stated purpose is to “receive and spend money in support of the financial services industry in Tennessee.”
Ogles’ campaign also received $1,000 contributions from FedEx, the Tennessee Realtors PAC and the UnitedHealth Group, the single largest for-profit health care company in the world by revenue, with the company showing more than $242 billion in revenue in 2019.
Including the aforementioned contributions, Ogles’ campaign received 48 individual contributions during the later portion of 2019, with the average contribution being $537.
During the pre-primary period, which runs from July 1 through Aug. 6, Ogles’ campaign received $1,000 in campaign contributions; $500 from the Cigna Corporation PAC, a political action committee for the health services organization Cigna who posted more than $153 billion in revenue in 2019, and $500 from the Tennessee Employees Action Movement, a political action committee whose goal is “to elect candidates who support state employees.”
In the early to mid portion of 2019, Ogles’ campaign saw just $224 in campaign expenditures; $94 for advertising, $30 for bank fees, and $100 for contributions.
In the later portion of 2019, Ogles’ campaign saw $9,833 in expenditures, the largest of which was $3,000 for dues and/or subscriptions to the Tennessee House Republican Caucus. That period also saw campaign expenditures of $1,605 at Mojo’s Tacos in Franklin, and $1,120 at Mockingbird Theater for professional services.
In the first quarter of 2020, Ogles’ campaign saw $301,584 in expenditures, the bulk of which was $300,034 towards a self-endorsed loan. The remaining expenditures during this period were mostly spent on Facebook advertisements.
During the second quarter of 2020, Ogles’ campaign saw $734 in contributions, the largest being $255 for Facebook advertisements.
In the pre-primary period, Ogles’ campaign saw just $161 in expenditures, all towards Facebook for advertising.
Sam Bledsoe / Democratic
Graduating from Tennessee Tech with a degree in computer science, Bledsoe said he was first inspired to get more involved in politics after there "started to be Nazis openly walking on the street," referencing the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.
A native of Brentwood, Bledsoe works in the tech industry and acts as the chief technology officer at the Nashville-based startup Ruby for Families.
Bledsoe’s campaign balance as of July 30 was $931. This election cycle, Bledsoe’s campaign has seen a total of $1,350 in campaign contributions, and $418 in expenditures.
In the second quarter of 2020, Bledsoe’s campaign saw a total of $1,350 in contributions, with the largest and only listed contribution being in the amount of $500 from the Williamson County Democratic Party.
The pre-primary period doesn’t reflect any contributions to Bledsoe’s campaign.
In the second quarter of 2020, Bledsoe’s campaign saw $418 in campaign expenditures, with the only itemized expenditure being a $250 payment to the Tennessee Democratic Party for dues/subscriptions.
The pre-primary period doesn’t reflect any expenditures for Bledsoe’s campaign.
To view full candidate financial reports, click here.