Tennessee lawmaker defends operating an unregistered "Christian magic supply" business

Rep. Matthew Hill [R-Jonesborough] is the proprietor of Dock Haley Gospel Magic, a business supplying "Christian-themed magic supplies and teaching aids to customers around the world who use magic shows as a form of evangelism."

Hill — who is hoping to be the next speaker of the Tennessee state legislature — never registered Dock Haley with the state, and when he was called to account for it, he defended his lack of legal compliance on the basis that the business is wildly unprofitable.

Hill neither registered the business with the state nor with the legislative ethics office, which maintains a list of businesses with ties to Tennessee lawmakers. When asked whether he paid taxes on the business, he declined to answer.

Hill recently nearly lost a house to foreclosure but came up with the money at the last minute. When questioned about the source of the last-minute cash, Hill declined to go into detail, saying only that he "made the money" and "didn't get it from any private sources." Hill is also part-owner of a political robo-call company.

Hill said he has "never made a dime off" the company and that any money generated goes back to the individual from whom he and his wife bought the business two years ago.

"It's mine and my wife's ministry is what it is," Hill said of the company, which sells products to "Christian magicians, church workers and missionaries."

Drew Rawlins, executive director of the state Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance, said that a lawmaker should be required to disclose the business if it is producing income, even if it is being used to repay the previous business owner.

House speaker candidate's Christian magic supply business is not registered with the state [Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison/Nashville Tennessean]

(via Super Punch)