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Tennessee Democratic Party Treasurer William H. "Bill" Freeman is stepping down effective immediately, Freeman and Chairman Chip Forrester announced today.
The decision comes as a result of several factors, Freeman said, including opposition to his appointment from some of the Democratic establishment.
"As I’ve made fund-raising calls in the last month, several long-time donors have expressed their concern to me that Governor Bredesen was not as supportive of me as I had hoped," Freeman said. "By resigning now, I hope I can take away some of the criticism the Party has faced recently and give Chip Forrester a better shot at rebuilding a relationship with the Governor and taking the Party in the direction that it needs to go."
Since his February 19th appointment, Freeman has been criticized for his past contributions to a few Republican candidates. Other commentators and Democratic activists have cited Freeman’s support of FONCE (Family Owned Non-Commercial Entity) as a source of contention with the Governor, who is pushing legislation to close a tax loophole benefiting FONCEs.
Forrester, while reluctantly accepting his resignation, said he respected Freeman’s decision.
"I think this has been a tough environment for Bill and a tough decision for him to make," said Forrester. "I appreciate him thinking about what is best for the Tennessee Democratic Party, and I sincerely hope to build a productive relationship with Governor Bredesen going forward."
Freeman is chairman of Freeman Webb, Inc., a real estate investment management and brokerage firm he founded with James A. Webb, III in 1979.
"Bill has done an outstanding job during his tenure with us," said Forrester. "Serving as a treasurer and raising money is a demanding role at any time, much less during a recession. Regardless, Bill proved himself to be a successful fundraiser. With his help, the TNDP has raised over $60,000 in March alone."
"My goal here at the TNDP remains the same: to build a strong organization that can help Democrats compete and win in 2010," Forrester continued. "The problems facing Tennessee are too great for me to lose focus that goal."
A replacement for Freeman has not yet been named. Forrester said he is beginning the search for a new treasurer immediately.
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