Lee Beaman Tells How he Became English Only's Largest Local Contributor


Local auto scion Lee Beaman gained a bit of notoriety this week after campaign disclosure filings showed he was the only largest local contributor to Eric Crafton's failed English Only amendment. As S-Town Mike at Enclave points out, Beaman's $6,000 contribution to the controversial bill fell squarely in line with his past efforts.

In 2004, Beaman gave $3,500 to the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry. Last year, he contributed the same amount to support Prop 8. Between 1995 and 2000, Beaman Motorsports gave more money to politicians than Goodyear Tires, with nearly all of it going to Republican causes.

Figuring out where Beaman stands on the issues of the day, therefore, is pretty self-explanatory. What isn't is why he decided to back one of the most divisive propositions in Nashville's history. So we decided to ask him.

Yesterday, Pith called up Beaman in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Fresh off the slopes and driving in what he described as a white-out, Beaman explained why he backed Crafton.

Naturally, his answer included Jesus Christ and a very persuasive Brazilian woman...

According to Beaman, his mind was made up after talking to an employee. The woman had spent 20 years in America, much of that time working under him. A native of Brazil, she'd eventually gained her citizenship, as Beaman told us, "by going through all the right channels."

"She told me emphatically that the best thing she ever did was to become very fluent in English," said Beaman. "Everything that we can do to encourage and force people to learn English is actually best for them. The people that are in favor of translators, although they may be well-intentioned, are harming immigrants. She suspects it's a plot on the part of some people to keep their wages depressed."

Of course, when pressed for actual, ya know, examples of these nefarious plotters and their schemes to keep immigrants down, Beaman had no answer. Neither could he account for the fact that most immigrants are actually trying to learn the language, just like his Brazilian employee would insist is best for them.

Beaman's tipping point came after hearing a radio ad he says was paid for by Nashville for All of Us. OK, so Beaman actually didn't hear the ad. Someone told him about it. And this ad, apparently, said that, had English Only been around in Biblical times, then "Jesus wouldn't have been able to get a carpenter's license."

Not trying to say this didn't actually happen, but did anyone ever hear this ad? Seems like if some Anti English Only group had paid for an ad that mentioned Jesus, Crafton & Co. would've been all over that. After all, that's their guy.

Not wanting to be responsible for an accident, we eventually let Beaman off the phone so he could focus on getting back to his hotel. But before hanging up, he mentioned how difficult it was to get that six grand to English Only.

As Michael Cass at the Tennessean reported, Beaman had a hard time tracking down Crafton. It took him a week, he said, to get a phone call in and pledge his money. Odd, thought Beaman. Yeah. Almost like Crafton wasn't even actively soliciting money from locals.

Weird, huh?

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