Susan Curlee

Susan Curlee

Curlee contacts DA

Williamson County Board of Education member Susan Curlee, District 12, filed a sworn complaint with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance alleging that the Williamson Strong parent group is an unregistered politically active group.

The over 100-page complaint states that Williamson Strong engaged in political activities with Williamson County Schools, Williamson County School Board members, local teachers union WCEA and a political action committee (W-PACE) comprised of teachers.

A six-member board with the Registry in Nashville will hear the complaint Wednesday, Jan. 14 at 10:30 a.m.

According to Tennessee state law under Tennessee Code Annotated 2-10, Campaign Finances, a politically active group must file campaign finance disclosures with the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, including candidate endorsements made monetarily.

Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, notified Williamson Strong co-founder Jennifer Smith of Franklin about the complaint. Smith received notice of Curlee’s complaint Monday by certified mail.

“The complaint appears to allege that Williamson Strong supported candidates without registering as a Political Campaign Committee (PAC),” Rawlins said. “This can be making a contribution directly or [for example] taking out an ad asking you to vote for a candidate.”

“This is the [TCA 2-10] statute our office enforces, so we would only have authority if this was the statute Williamson Strong violated,” Rawlins said.

Rawlins said that there is no “investigation.”

“We have received the complaint,” he said. “The six-member Registry of Election Finance will review the complaint and determine whether to dismiss the complaint or issue a show cause notice to Williamson Strong.”

Rawlins explained that a show cause notice would be a letter to Williamson Strong detailing the statutes the Registry believes may have been violated. Williamson Strong would then have a chance to reply to the allegations.

The complaint lists Williamson Strong’s political activities as endorsing candidates, conducting opposition research, organizing volunteers for surveys, and utilizing social media and editorials to promote certain candidates and positions on political issues, “while clearly opposing others” during the county elections last summer.

Curlee did not respond to the Herald’s requests for comment.

Smith defended the organization, which she explained as a “grassroots effort” to support Williamson County Schools.

“We have no money. We have no budget. We have no bank account. We did not give money to candidates,” Smith said. “Mrs. Curlee is trying to have a case where nothing exists.

“A lawyer is representing us. I can’t predict what the ethics board will say, but we have done nothing wrong. We are parent volunteers. We are in the bowels of the ship.”

Curlee approaches DA’s office

Curlee’s complaint also consists of a note explaining that she contacted the District Attorney’s office to “address involvement of Williamson County School Officials and others,” regarding political activity further supporting her complaint.

District Attorney Kim Helper in the 21st district confirmed that Curlee approached her office about “sitting down” with her to review information that she has recently gathered.

Helper said that she turned Curlee’s request over to a pro tem attorney at the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference.

Helper explained that she did not want any “special treatment” to be questioned regarding Curlee or Williamson County Schools pertaining to the request.

“I know Mrs. Curlee,” she said. “Some employees in our office have spouses employed by Williamson County Schools.”

There are currently no official documents from Helper’s office regarding the complaint.

On Sept. 29, Curlee gathered information by placing an open records request to WCS attorney Jason Golden regarding correspondence between members of Williamson Strong, school board members, Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney and “Williamson Secrets,” an anonymous Twitter account.

The request resulted in about 2,000 emails gathered by WCS staff, according to Communications Director Carol Birdsong, which were viewed by Curlee the first week in November.

Curlee submitted another Freedom of Information Act request Nov. 21 to the Franklin Special School District asking for information about her two children as well as Williamson Strong and Williamson Secrets during the time frame from March to Oct. 31. 

That request resulted in over 500 pages of documents gathered by FSSD staff, which was viewed by Curlee recently.

The six-member board with the Registry of Election Finance, appointed by the governor and the House and Senate speakers, consists of Patricia Heim (chair) Nashville; Norma Lester (secretary), Memphis; Kent Coleman, Murfressboro; Henry Fincher, Cookeville; Tom Lawles, Nashville; and Justin Pitt, Franklin.

Curlee was elected to the Williamson County School Board of Education Aug. 7 during the County General Election, along with five other candidates, who either defeated or replaced unopposed previous school board incumbents. 

(17) comments

We surround you

This is all part of the ugly stuff. This is part of her plan to remove Dr. Looney. Yesterday she and Julie West were on the Michael DelGiorno showing discussing how Dr. Looney needs to be removed. Why? Our schools have never been better.

https://medium.com/@williamsonsecrets

VictorA

Good article Kerri, thanks for reporting it in a professional manner. The point here is that no one involved in the political campaigns of school board candidates (incumbent or challengers), believes that Williamson Strong is, "just a group of grass roots parents". It is a political organization (and should be registered as such), that has and is using aggressive political tactics on school board matters and the leadership in WCS may have bought into their aggressive moves. Williamson Strong is highly organized and they are good at what they do. They literally attacked the '6' challengers and threw accusations at them from the very beginning, just to keep their power with the incumbent school board members. They know how to accuse their political opponents of things they themselves do, just to cover their very own illicit tracts. The voters of these even districts knew that they smelled a rat and as a result, Williamson Strong is now Williamson WEAK! And that election made history! I listened to 99.7 and Susan and Julie discussed Looney's role in this high charged, political environment that was NOT just about the CHILDREN - but more about POWER. If Looney was involved he needs to come clean and suffer the consequences, if not he has nothing to worry about. Accountability of ALL elected officials is of VITAL IMPORTANCE, so that their actions are transparent to the voters first!

We surround you

VictorA- If Williamson Strong is Williamson WEAK, why does everyone keep talking about them?

Richard

I am going to start calling her Susan Conspiracy-Curlee because anyone that disagrees with her has to be part of some elaborate conspiracy against her. Who has this woman not approached to launch a complaint against about? Disagreeing is not threatening. Disagreeing is not attacking. She has not backed up a single charge of a threat against her in so far as I can see. Her skin is not thick enough for her current position. Also, in my humble opinion, she is also being manipulated by people like Julie and Micheal, who only gain publicity by her craziness. They will wash their hands of her when she gets labelled as crying wolf, or worse yet, as paranoid and ill.

Victor I used to listen to 99.7. However, if you were there at Centennial you would realize that what was reported was sensationalized to make good radio and was not what happened. I can see if you were not there why it makes for interesting radio, and gets you up in arms, but, to quote another 99.7 personality, what was reported was bovine scatology. How can I back this up? Conspiracy Curlee's complaint (yes another) to the Sheriff had not merit. Nothing came of that conspiracy complaint, other than talk radio filler.

And if that last line sounds like I am attaching you, then you don't have thick skin either, even though there is clearly some wool on your skin.

Fatima

Why does it seem that this article focuses more on Curlee, than on the subject of the complaint? Williamson Strong and their alleged campaign activities with Dr. Looney and incumbent school board members that were ousted in the last election?

The real problem is that WCS and the superintendent were using taxpayer resources to campaign for incumbent candidates in an election. If Curlee's 100 pages of evidence is valid, these candidates had WCS providing PR assistance and background checks on their opponents and whatever else,with my taxes funding it! Conspiracy theory or not, if her evidence is evidence of this going on, then I want it to stop! Let's look at the evidence and stop maligning the messenger.

Everyone should listen to Michael Delgiorno's podcast from 12/16/14 because his interview uncovers information you will never hear from the Williamson Herald, Brentwood or Franklin Homepages or the Tennessean.

What is SBview? The School Board's employee, Dr. Mike Looney, sees all his employer's email activity but Susan Curlee, as a school board member, elected by Williamson County Citizens, has to make an open records request to see his? That's messed up.

Williamson Strong is about as grassroots as its sister organizations in Sumner and Rutherford and in other districts across the country. And they seem to be well funded and fully resourced, and I'm not just talking clip-art. LOL clip-art? SEIU? It's time for the Democrats and the liberals to just come out of the Williamson Strong closet unless they are ashamed of what they truly are.

Richard

I did read it. I have come to a very different conclusion as you.

Here it is: http://bw-bc5fcb0018cecacba559dc512740091b-bwcore.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/Curlee_Ethics_Complain_1214.pdf

Point to the page number that implicates any of the sentences you so definitively make in paragraph 2 of your post.

There is no single smoking gun in that paranoid manifesto.

Here is the thing. Multiple reporters have made the same FOI requests. If there was something in there of merit, something that logic of sound mind could make a story out of, versus conspiracy theory fodder, the reporters would be making a name for themselves with it.

Again, let's not equate M.D. with the profession of journalist. He is an entertainer and needs attention seeking stuff so you will listen though the majority of his show -- advertisements.

Fatima

Reporters? You must be joking. I have seen the caliber of reporting in the Williamson and it is pathetic.
They cannot produce one article without getting their facts mixed up. Koolaid is high in sugar, you should cut back.

Hopefully the burea of elections will do their job.

We surround you

Fatima-So are you saying this isn't about Williamson Strong but in fact about Dr. Looney? You mean there really is a plot to get rid of him? https://medium.com/@WilliamsonSecrets/well-funded-conservative-groups-secret-game-plan-to-for-williamson-county-schools-e2babb252899

Richard

I use stevia extract in my kool aid.


Fatima

So you have no problem with the superintendent working with a political group, Williamson Strong, and using county resources to campaign for incumbents school board members? Exposing this is a plot? What if he was colluding with AFP ?

Move along, move along, nothing to see here....

Richard

Nothing in her lengthy circumstantial, tangential, collection of ideas proves any of what you just asserted yet again as fact. Again, please give me the page number that supports this charge? Oh .... that is right, you can't. Oh well, DelGiorno will have you on again so that you can come up with more sensationalism and even levee new charges that don't have to be backed up in fact.

I live in one of the contested districts. Looney never campaigned to me about any candidate. No WCS resources ever made it to my door. Both the incumbent and the challenger came to my door in person. So did their mailers, as well as the fancy AFP mailer. No single email came to me via my connections to paying any PTO dues or having kids go through multiple WC schools. There is no evidence at my home, or in that docket to support any of these trumped up charges.

When you have proof, please show it, as I would like to see it. As of yet, you have just blown smoke with not facts to back it up.


Fatima

Here's just one thing cause I ain't doing your homework for you, p.16. Looney says, "I think we could partner with WS to do it." to Jennifer Smith, co-founder of Williamson Strong. I encourage all to read the Williamson Strong link provided by Richard in his 2nd comment, of Curlee's complaint served to Jennifer Smith. I also encourage everyone to listen to Michael Delgiorno's podcast of 12/16:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-michael-delgiorno-show/id275633442?mt=2

We should all know by now we cannot trust the main stream media or the mini stream media locally represented by Brentwood Homepage, Franklin Homepage or Williamson Herald and the Tennessean, because, believe it or not, they present stories with information wrong, slanted, or strategically missing to fit their own liberal bias and liberal political agenda. Always read original documents when available or original testimony.

Richard

Ah … Fatima, good Monday morning to you. I hope you had a nice weekend and got all your Christmas shopping done.

In terms of your post, clearly you “ain’t” [sic] doing my homework for me. Conspiracy-Curlee already did that, and I read her dissertation and it was, quite frankly, lacking in a coherent thesis.

Your example kind of teases at that which you have already convicted Looney of, but does not prove anything. Let’s take a non-preconceived look at page 16. Williamson Strong, in my opinion, has “partnered” with WCS by putting out calls for text book review volunteers; putting out the links to solicit for the Ladder’s To Hope funds needed for an additional year; and has spread the news to celebrate the WCS successes from SCORE; sent links to fundraise for the families who have found themselves with their children in a horrible wreck, etc. That email could be in reference to so much.

Where is the context that would show this email exchange to be wrong doing? Surely with the HUGE FOI request that Susan and Julie West have made, you all can fill in the context. Or, maybe you cannot because nothing was done wrong.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

You posting a link to a show with an unapologetic strong bias totally negates your last paragraph, and also paints you in into the conspiracy central crowd too. Bias is A la carte. Pick the one you want and tune into that news source, but please don’t think you are holier-than-thou, and somehow free from bias, especially as you keep trying to get people to hear you on Michael’s show.

Mikelooney

The facts: My comment was in response to an email in which a member from Williamson Strong asked about producing a parent friendly school funding primer for the purpose of helping parents better understand how Williamson County Schools is funded. My response was meant to indicate my general support for such a document and thought it might be beneficial to work together in producing it.

publicschoolparent

Pretty amazing, "Fatima". Maybe read the docs? And the complaint. This devious doc that Looney says "I think we could partner with WS to do it." As stated below, it is an explainer about school budgets. Wow, that's really terrible. Awful. That should really outlawed. Good thing there are brave patriots out there to expose such a thing. I think we can all rest easier. Curlee says on her list that that same terrible document is from MNEA (teachers union in Nashville). See p. 6 #4. Actually, as it says right ON the document that it was done by the "Friends of Metro Schools" and it has some icons to tell you who that is. So the report was done by the Nashville teachers union, the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Stand for Children and the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship. Wrong on the facts once again. And, again, wow. That's just terrible that a bunch of groups in Nashville would work together on something like that and that maybe Wmson should do something like that. Again, so grateful for your brave patriotism fighting against such horrors!

FranklinNative

Irony: Fatima (cough, cough) doesn't trust FHP or Williamson Herald but does trust Michael Delgiorno?

FranklinNative

What's the most dangerous place in the county, praytell? Anywhere between Fatima and a microphone.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.