Photo by Flickr user A. Davey under a creative commons license.
By MATT BLOIS
While Democratic leaders have criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran, cities in Tennessee, including Brentwood, have quietly and subtly done their part to keep the economic pressure on.
According to state law, Tennessee and its subsidiaries, which includes city and county governments, cannot award a contract of any kind worth more than $1,000 to anyone investing large amounts of money in the energy sector in Iran.
To clarify, this law is not related to the economic sanctions lifted in the 2015 deal that was supposed to stop Iran from making nuclear weapons. Tennessee received the authority to punish Iranian energy investors from a separate sanctions act passed by the U.S. Congress in 2010.
The state law requires anyone submitting a bid to a local government in Tennessee to sign a document stating that they are not investing in the energy sector in Iran.
Former City Attorney Roger Horner sent an email to all city department heads after the law passed in 2016. It only prohibits local governments from working with people, companies or banks that have invested $20 million or more into the energy sector in Iran.
“It’s probably safe to say that eliminates most of the vendors who will be bidding on goods and services for the City,” Horner wrote in the email from 2016. “The requirement to submit the certification applies nonetheless.”
In the email, he included an extra form for department heads to add to contracts so that they would comply with the law. That’s how documents about Iranian sanctions made their way into bids for graphic design in the city.
A spokesperson for the city said that the city is not aware of the law ever stopping a bidder from getting a contract.