Foley and Whitson

Democratic candidate Jennifer Foley (left) and Republican incumbent Sam Whitson (right) are both vying for the state House seat representing Tennessee's 65th District, which encompasses western Williamson County.

On Nov. 3, Williamson County residents will decide who will represent them in the state legislature, with one of the three Tennessee House races being the race for District 65.

That seat is currently held by Republican Sam Whitson, having taken office in January 2017 after first defeating Jeremy Durham in the Republican primary, and then Democrat Holly McCall in the general election.

Jennifer Foley, a political newcomer from Spring Hill, won the Aug. 6 state primary election and has gone on to become the official Democratic nominee for that race.

On Nov. 3, Foley will spar off against Whitson in the general election. But who is funding these two candidates’ campaigns? Read below for a breakdown of their financials, from campaign contributions to expenses.

Jennifer Foley / Democrat

A native of Massachusetts, Foley moved to Nashville in the early 2000s to pursue a PhD at Vanderbilt, and later moved to Spring Hill after starting a family with her husband.

Foley has campaigned on expanding Medicaid in the state of Tennessee, opposing right-to-work laws, which refer to laws that prohibit union membership as being a determining factor in whether or not an individual gets or keeps a job, and fighting the ever-increasing leverage of special interest groups in politics.

As of July 30, Foley’s campaign fund balance was $6,591. This election cycle, Foley’s campaign has seen a total of $7,917 in campaign contributions and $1,325 in expenditures.

Campaign contributions

In the second quarter of 2020, which spans from April 1 - June 30, Foley’s campaign received a total of $6,768 in contributions, with the largest being a $500 contribution from the Williamson County Democratic Party.

Foley received contributions from five individuals from out of state - mostly family members - totaling in $1,300 during the first quarter of 2020. 

Those out of state contributions were $200 from a speech language pathologist in Pennsylvania, $400 from a family member in Connecticut, $350 from a family member in Massachusetts, $200 from an engineer in California, $200 from a software engineer in Connecticut, and $150 from a Wells Fargo banker in Arizona.

During the pre-primary period, which ended on Aug. 6, Foley received $1,149 in campaign contributions, with the largest being $250 from a public accountant in Franklin.

Campaign expenditures

In quarter one of 2020, Foley saw $1,148 in campaign expenditures. The largest was $250 to the Tennessee Democratic Party for dues, with the second largest being $210 towards NGP VAN, a privately owned voter database and web hosting service providers, for data services.

During the pre-primary period, Foley incurred $177 in campaign expenditures, the majority of which came from bank fees, printing and data services.

Sam Whitson / Republican

Running for his third term, Whitson is a native to Nashville, and now lives in Franklin with his wife of 46 years.

Prior to his political career, Whitson served in the United States Army from 1976 to 2002, serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army’s VII Corps during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Whitson is a decorated veteran, having received the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal among others.

As of July 28, Whitson’s campaign fund balance was $134,488. This election cycle, Whitson’s campaign has seen a total of $56,125 in campaign contributions, and $53,579 in expenditures.

Campaign contributions

During the fourth quarter of 2018, Whitson received $4,375 in campaign contributions, with the largest being a $1,500 contribution from the co-owner of Total Wine & More, an alcohol retailer with more than 200 locations nationwide.

Whitson also received a $1,000 contribution from the Tennessee Political Action Committee (PAC) for Rural Electrification, a Nashville PAC that supports candidates who “will speak for and protect the interests of electric cooperatives.”

Whitson received three out of state contributions during 2018’s fourth quarter; $250 from One Busch Place, a brewery out of Missouri, $500 from General Motors PAC out of Washington, D.C., and $1,500 from the aforementioned co-owner of Total Wine & More out of Maryland.

In early to mid 2019, Whitson did not receive any contributions due to state legislators not being allowed to fundraise while in session.

In mid to late 2019, Whitson received $36,350 in contributions, the largest of which being $3,000 from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America PAC, a political action committee aimed at advancing the interests and independence of wholesale distributors in the United States.

During the period of mid to late 2019, Whitson saw 13 contributions from out of state: 

  • Washington, D.C. / $1,000 from Amazon.

  • Washington, D.C. / $500 from Atmos Energy PAC, a political action committee aimed at supporting candidates who “advocate and promote public policies that support the interests of [natural gas distribution] customers, employees, [and] shareholders.”

  • Mississippi / $500 from Butler Snow PAC, a political action committee that represents Butler Snow LLP, a Nashville law firm.

  • Washington, D.C. / $1,000 from CSX Good Government Fund, on behalf of CSX Corporation.

  • Washington, D.C. / $500 from CVS Health.

  • Texas / $500 from Enbridge Inc. PAC, a political action committee for the oil and gas giant Enbridge.

  • Missouri / $1,000 from Enterprise Holdings Inc. PAC, a political action committee for the car rental company Enterprise Holdings.

  • Washington, D.C. / $1,000 from General Motors PAC.

  • Virginia / $500 from Jack Daniel’s PAC, the political action committee for the well-known whiskey brand and company.

  • Kansas / $500 from Koch Industries Inc., the second-largest privately owned company in the United States whose subsidiaries range from manufacturing to finance.

  • Washington, D.C. / $500 from Norfolk Southern Corporation, a transportation company.

  • New York / $500 from the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

  • Texas / $750 from the Southwest Airlines Freedom Fund, a PAC for the well-known Dallas-based airline.

In the first quarter of 2020, Whitson did not receive any contributions due to the state legislature being in session.

In the second quarter of 2020, Whitson received $1,250 in contributions, the largest of which was $750 from the Tennessee Realtors PAC, a political action committee aimed at “supporting candidates who share the ideals and principles of [the Tennessee Realtors group.]”

This period’s relatively low contributions was due in part to the Tennessee General Assembly being in session.

During the pre-primary period, Whitson saw $14,150 in contributions, the largest of which was $8,000 from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America PAC. Another large contribution was $3,500 from Enterprise Holdings Inc. PAC.

During the pre-primary period, Whitson saw four out of state contributions:

  • Washington, D.C. / $1,000 from Atmos Energy PAC.

  • Washington, D.C. / $250 from Cigna Corporation PAC, a political action committee for the health services organization Cigna.

  • Colorado / $250 from Critical Nurse Staffing PAC, a political action committee for the home health care service company.

  • Missouri / $3,500 from Enterprise Holdings Inc.

Campaign expenditures

During the fourth quarter of 2018, Whitson saw $13,651 in campaign expenditures, the largest being $3,500 to Ted Boyatt, a Nashvillian who has served on the state Chamber of Commerce, for consulting fees. Another large expenditure was $2,371 to the Williamson Herald for advertising.

In early to mid 2019, Whitson saw $3,936 in expenditures, the largest being $538 to Verizon for telephone services.

In mid to late 2019, Whitson saw $11,574 in expenditures, the largest being $3,000 to the Tennessee House Republican Caucus for dues. Another large expenditure was $1,600 to a Franklin resident for consulting services.

During the first quarter of 2020, Whitson saw $8,655 in expenditures, the largest being $4,500 to A4 Media, an advertising and data company based out of South Carolina, for campaign services.

During the second quarter of 2020, Whitson saw $11,819 in expenditures, the largest being, again, $4,500 to A4 Media for campaign services.

During the pre-primary period, Whitson saw $3,944 in expenditures, the largest being $1,500 to A4 Media.

To view full candidate financial reports, click here.