One of the pitches Eric Crafton used to sell English Only to Nashvillians was that the opponents were not of the people, but of an economic elite that desired to keep the people down. However, the financial disclosure forms finally released by the Election Commission today show that Nashville English First had its own elite duo: Virginia's ProEnglish and Nashville's auto scion and GOP funder, Lee Beaman.
From February 2007 through January 12, 2009, $84,467 in donations was collected by NEF. $82,500 arrived from Virginia. Subtract Lee Beaman's $1,000 contribution as well as some rich Belle Meade doctor's $125 (Belle Meade has independent city status from Nashville) and $100 from some guy in Memphis, and donors in Nashville-Davidson Co.-proper donating at least $100 gave less than $500 in 2 years to Eric Crafton's cause. By the way, for those of you prone to boycott: a Downtown bar was among those donors. There were also $263 in donations from those giving less than $100. We do not know if they were Nashvillians, but let's be charitable and assume they were. That is not even .9% of English Only donations over the two year period.
I am not surprised that Lee Beaman kicked in $5,000 to supplement his original $1,000 after January 12. Nashvillians not named Beaman were only showing .9% of overall financial support, and that is embarrassing for a group claiming to "unite" Nashville. Between January 12 & 15 only $200 more came in from Nashvillians not named Beaman giving at least $100. $55 came in from donors not giving at least $100, and once again, let's be charitable even as the hammer falls. Nashvillians not named Beaman were barely funding English Only at a 1% clip a week before the referendum, even as it appeared that the auto dealer's $5,000 was a bump in local donations.
Over 85% of the total Nashville-Davidson Co. donations listed on the reports (excluding Belle Meade and Memphis contributors) is Lee Beaman's. Crafton's movement (a term I use loosely) should have been called "English First, officially sponsored by the Beaman Automotive Group," because outside of Lee Beaman, Nashvillians thought so much of NEF that they gave it very little financial help.