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Speaker candidate's disclosure shows discrepancies

Posted: 5:06 PM, Jul 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-23 18:06:36-04
Cameron Sexton.jpg

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — So who did Rep. Cameron Sexton pay out of his campaign funds - and what did he get for the money?

NewsChannel 5 Investigates has uncovered questions about the latest campaign financial disclosure for one of the men now campaigning to be the next House Speaker.

House Republicans meet Wednesday morning to pick their nominee.

Sexton's latest disclosure shows $1,500 paid on May 1st to WLAC radio in Nashville and $1,200 paid on May 6th to Peg Broadcasting in Crossville.

Both expenditures were described as being for "advertising."

But a review of a political advertising database maintained by the Federal Communications Commission does not reveal any political ads for Sexton in that time period.

WLAC radio told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that it had not received any such payment from the Crossville Republican and did not have any Sexton political ads listed in its own files.

When NewsChannel 5 asked for documentation of the $1,500 payment to WLAC on May 1st, Sexton provided an invoice from The Tennessee Star, a conservative website operated by political strategist Steve Gill.

The invoice -- for $1,600 -- was for "one month of advertising in March 2019 on The Tennessee Star Report radio program." The invoice was dated March 18th and shows that payment was due that same date.

That program airs on WLAC-AM.

In a text message, Sexton suggested that his campaign was unclear about which entity it paid and mistaken in the amount that it reported.

"We thought the money went [to] WLAC - didn't know it didn't," Sexton wrote. "So we reported where the ads were running."

He said that the campaign would amend its financial disclosure.

The Tennessee Star has faced criticism for the close relationship between its editorial content and Gill's consulting business.

This week, a post on the company's website noted that Sexton was now running a pair of ads to "advance the agenda of the Republican supermajority in the House."

Steve Gill was quoted as calling it "a smart move” by the House Speaker candidate.

The post did not specify where the new radio ads are running.

In response to questions about the $1,200 payment to Peg Broadcasting on May 6th, Sexton provided NewsChannel 5 Investigates a stack of invoices dated May 31st and June 30th.

Those invoices total $1,380.

Sexton said that he prepaid the $1,200 to Peg Broadcasting and paid the remaining $180 in July.

But the invoices do not reflect a credit on the account.

NewsChannel 5 has requested documentation of Sexton's payment to the two companies, but he has not provided them so far.

Peg Broadcasting has not returned calls confirming the payment or explaining why such ads do not show up in the FCC political database.

In addition, Sexton’s most recent financial disclosure lists a payment of $197.35 to Tap Publishing in Crossville for "software renewal."

NewsChannel 5 asked for an explanation of that expenditure, but Sexton has not responded.

Veiw NewsChannel 5's full investigation:

Capitol Hill Controversy