Who does Bill Hagerty put first – the average Tennessee taxpayer or his big dollar cronies?
Two examples immediately come to mind – TNInvestco and the Nashville Soccer stadium.
The failed TNInvestco initiative was launched in 2009, by the Bredesen administration. The plan was intended to spur the growth of start-up companies and with it, jobs. A deal was cut with private insurance companies where the state would “sell” $200 million dollars in future tax credits for $150 million dollars cash. Then ten firms managing venture capital funds, were selected by the state to invest the cash in start-up companies. The ten firms were allocated $20 million dollars in management fees regardless of whether the public money they invested, were successful in achieving the program’s objectives.
Hagerty was a partner in the venture capital investment firm, Tennessee Community Ventures Fund (TCVF) which was one of ten selected by the state to gamble with Tennessee taxpayer money with most of the risk shouldered by the taxpayer.
Six years into the program, Tennessee’s Comptroller calculated that only $5.3 million was recovered on the State’s investment which was a measly 2.6% return on the initial investment.
Regardless, firms like Hagerty’s got their money.
The more recent Nashville soccer stadium never was and still isn’t a good deal for taxpayers. But if billionaire John Ingram and multi-millionaire Bill Hagerty want it, well it’s going to happen even if the city can’t afford it and even if “[s]ports stadiums are notoriously bad deals for taxpayers.”
TNInvestco was launched by the Phil Bredesen administration. The soccer stadium was former Nashville mayor Megan Barry’s $250 million dollar plan. Democrats freely spending other people’s money.
Bill Hagerty had his hand in both.
Nashville billionaire Ingram, lead owner of the soccer team, wanted this so badly that he offered to put up some of the money, letting taxpayers eat the rest. His crony-loving buddy Hagerty organized the Major League Soccer (MLS) Steering Committee to bring the deal to the table. It was a deal which included $250 million dollars in public financing and a gift of 10 acres of land to get the team and the new stadium. According to one source, the land was undervalued in the deal when in actuality it was worth twice the amount to the tune of $20 million dollars.
The Nashville-based Beacon Center explained that the soccer stadium deal was a bad deal for taxpayers. And another sports-insider publication reported that taxpayers were “already on the hook for $300 million in upgrades to Nissan Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Tennessee Titans.”
To sweeten the deal for the Metro Council who would have to approve the deal, Hagerty turned to Sen. Steve Dickerson who calls himself “the different Republican” (aka, super RINO), to carry legislation which would help get Hagerty’s deal approved.
“Dickerson said the two discussed plans to push for the legislation as they watched their sons compete in the same youth soccer match.” Dickerson sees soccer as becoming popular “among his own children [who attend an exclusive private school] and many others in the Middle Tennessee areas as well as Nashville’s budding immigrant community.”
Hagerty’s business partner and long-time crony Will Alexander (son of Lamar), was the co-organizer of the MLS Steering Committee. Will recently left the private investment firm he joined with Hagerty, to be the MLS’ team chief revenue officer.
Right after Hagerty was appointed Commissioner of TN ECD, he promoted Alexander to chief of staff.
See the pattern? Rich cronies help each other to become richer using working folks’ money.
John Ingram gave the maximum donation of $5,600 to Hagerty’s Senate campaign.