Accusations and denials are flying on Capitol Hill today as an independent investigation by The Rhinestone has uncovered thatTennesseelawmakers have been using “ghost-runners” in softball tournaments against the legislatures of other states.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, it’s an extremely common practice” noted Rep. Jameson Hershfeld, a member of the TN House of Representatives and second baseman for the TN legislature’s intramural team. “Everybody does it and I don’t think there’s anything immoral, unethical, or un-sportsman-like at all about ghost-runners!”
This revelation only further-complicates matters for members ofTennessee’s General Assembly, who are still deciding how to react to charges of using “Ghost Voters” during session, a practice which was uncovered by a News Channel 5 investigation released earlier today. According to the WTVF report, lawmakers would routinely cast votes for fellow legislators who were not physically in attendance during roll calls. The practice has become so commonplace that some legislators even reportedly keep long sticks on-hand, enabling them to reach across to absent colleagues’ desks and hit voting buttons which are not within easy reach. Other legislators have been seen to “scurry around pushing the buttons of others so that even those who are not there are marked as present”, according to the News Channel 5 report. Though some legislators interviewed by WTVF disputed claims that this practice is unethical or illegal, and yet others denied having engaged in the practice despite concrete evidence to the contrary, locals have already expressed outrage at what they view as a form of deception and even outright laziness.
Only hours after Channel 5’s report broke, The Rhinestone’s investigative reporters revealed that they also have footage of multiple “Legislature League” softball tournaments, during which many TN lawmakers never arrived at the games and “ghost-runners” were used to cover the bases in their absence. During the TN General Assembly’s season-opener against the lawmakers ofOregon, the first three RBI’s were actually scored by an impressive six consecutive hits by Sen. Fred Bayer ofEast Tennessee, who ironically never physically reached home-plate himself. Furthermore, during a 2011 Play-off game against the government ofNew Jerseylast fall, the Volunteers ultimately (and some would say deservedly) fell to theGardenStatewhen only four legislators and two pages physically arrived to participate in the game.
“I’ve often played with a ghost-runner on first” explained Sen. Colby Mathers in a phone interview with The Rhinestone. “That’s how we used to play it when I was a schoolboy, and honestly, I’m proud to see my fellow legislators still acting like schoolchildren”.
(The WTVF News Channel 5 investigative report being referenced can be found at http://www.newschannel5.com/story/17796991/nc5-investigates-state-lawmakers-ghost-voting. Softball field image found at http://www.goredfoxes.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27700&ATCLID=205288771)