Timothy Hill downplays Wikipedia flap before kickoff of campaign

Hank Hayes • Jun 8, 2010 at 11:11 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Republican Timothy Hill defended his record as a congressional press secretary and his business receiving a check from his brother’s campaign account while kicking off his campaign for Tennessee’s 3rd House District seat Tuesday.

Hill is among at least four Republicans actively seeking the GOP nomination in the Aug. 5 Republican primary with hopes of succeeding retiring House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower of Bristol in the fall general election.

At his event held at the Sullivan County Courthouse, Hill said he is the conservative in the 3rd House District race. He pledged to oppose new taxes, cut state spending and support pro-life measures.

Timothy Hill, 28, is the brother of state Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, and the son of Tennessee Regulatory Authority Director Kenneth Hill.

In 2007, Timothy Hill was caught using a government computer to delete information in the online Wikipedia biographies of then-U.S. Rep. David Davis and Matthew Hill.

At the time, Timothy Hill was Davis’ press secretary and communications director.

Timothy Hill attempted to delete information about Davis’ and Matthew Hill’s ties to King Pharmaceuticals and its former CEO, John Gregory, a major contributor to Republican candidates and conservative causes.

A Wikipedia administrator called the editing of Hill’s and Davis’ online biographies “blanking vandalism.” The administrator traced changes, which Wikipedia jargon calls a “page diff,” to an Internet protocol address of a congressional office computer.

Afterward, Timothy Hill was directed to go through voluntary ethics training.

“They took the (Wikipedia) situation before the House Ethics Board,” Timothy Hill said before his campaign event began. “They didn’t think it was an issue. I don’t think it’s an issue. ... It’s the same training that any member of the House goes through. The fact of the matter is that Wikipedia is an unreliable source. It is full of inaccuracies. ... I didn’t see anything wrong with changing lies. I’m sure it will come up (during the election campaign), and that’s fine, but people are more concerned about jobs and illegal immigration in the state of Tennessee.

“They are more concerned about how they are going to feed their families as opposed to a faulty Web site.”

Timothy Hill also responded to concerns about moving his call center business, Right Way Marketing, from Washington County to Sullivan County around the time he picked up a petition to enter the 3rd House District race.

His business received a $523 check from Matthew Hill’s campaign account last February for “phone calls,” according to Matthew Hill’s filing with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.

Timothy Hill said his company does business-to-business sales as well as political work, including robocalls and polling.

“We initiated the (business) move prior to Jason (Mumpower) choosing to retire,” Timothy Hill said. “We chose to come closer to home. ... We’re going to work for anybody we can, and that includes Matthew, and that includes anybody else in the state.”

Timothy Hill also said his Blountville residence is in the 3rd House District.

“We need a candidate who has the experience I have — a small business owner being around government, working within government, and also frankly working with government,” he said. “In the race, I am the best qualified.”

Other GOP candidates seeking the 3rd House District seat are Blountville businessman Marvin Gurley, former Sullivan County Board of Education member Sherry Greene Grubb of Bluff City, and Mountain City’s Scotty Campbell, who serves as a spokesman for House Speaker Kent Williams.

Republicans Rick Armstrong of Bristol and Carl M. Howard of Mountain City have indicated a desire to withdraw, but still remain on the ballot, according to Sullivan County Elections Administrator Jason Booher.

The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Joe Mike Akard, a Sullivan County Schools employee, in the Nov. 2 general election.

Independent candidate Parke Morris of Bristol has also filed a petition to run for the seat but currently lives outside the district. Booher said Morris must live in the district by Election Day on Nov. 2 to qualify as a candidate.

The 3rd House District includes parts of Sullivan County and all of Johnson County.

Early voting for the Aug. 5 GOP primary begins July 16.

For more information about Timothy Hill’s campaign, go to hillforhouse.com.

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