Prominent voucher advocate takes Harwell, Dean on trip

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A prominent school voucher advocate in Tennessee paid for a private plane to take public officials including potential Republican and Democratic candidates for governor to North Carolina on a private school tour.

The Tennessean reports ( ) the trip organized by Lee Barfield included Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, a Democrat. Both are considering bids to succeed term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam in 2018.

State law prohibits lawmakers from receiving major gifts from lobbyists or their employers. Barfield, the brother-in-law of former Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, has lobbied in the past but was not registered during the 2015 trip.

Barfield told the paper that “as a citizen, I am permitted to take these officials if they want to go on a fact-finding trip.”