Fourth Congressional District candidate Steve Lane is on a mission to save his children and grandchildren from the ever-rising burden of national debt.
He takes the same outlook on the nation’s future as he did on overcoming a felony conviction more than a decade ago when he was accused of defrauding a home construction company in Crossville.
Lane, a Murfreesboro resident running against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Jim Tracy in the August Republican primary, said he “took ownership of his mistake and worked to put it behind him.
Now that he’s running for Congress, he said in an interview last week, he sees nobody else in the race with the “moral courage to make any hard choices” on the nation’s debt, which is $17.5 trillion and growing.
“If we don’t make those sacrifices, they won’t have any choices,” he said, noting tomorrow’s young people will be born with a $55,000 debt looming over them and no room in the national budget for discretionary spending. He and his wife, Kaloni, a pharmacy technician, have six children.
Lane, who moved to Murfreesboro from Crossville more than two years ago, touts an endorsement by the Republican Liberty Caucus.
“It signals something we’re trying very hard to do … get some more average folks in Congress,” said Lane, an associate instructor in building and construction at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Nashville.
Calling himself “solid middle class,” Lane, 46, said he sees running for Congress as an opportunity to serve the nation. He wants the country to return to the era of the Founding Fathers when citizen legislators were the norm.
“You’re starting to see the movement … a swell to move away from the career politician,” Lane said.
The candidate also believes the nation should refocus its military philosophy by bringing troops out of Afghanistan and changing the way it operates in Germany and Japan, dating back to World War II, including removing military restrictions on those nations.
Whether the United States goes to war should be based on two things, he said: 1) whether a strategic threat is made against American freedom; and 2) full debate and approval by Congress.
As part of his platform, he also opposes provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that he believes violate the due process rights of American citizens accused to aiding terrorists.
A life-changing moment
Lane pleaded guilty in 2004 to the felony offense of passing a forged instrument over $1,000, according to Cumberland County court documents. A charge of forgery over $1,000 was dropped and a two-year sentence was suspended as Lane agreed to undergo supervised probation.
During an interview last week, Lane said he made the plea agreement after being accused of defrauding Perry Custom Homes and First National Bank of $3,500 in January 2002.
Lane said the charge stemmed from a point in his life when he and his wife at that time were struggling financially. He said he also felt as if a company “conned” him out of $10,000.
“I was desperate to try and keep our finances going,” he said.
Lane said he worked with the son of the Perry family, who was an authorized signer on their account, to make an electronic transfer of a deposit slip.
“When I did it, I felt like it was legal,” he said. Yet he conceded in the interview that it was “absolutely wrong.” Even though he believes he could have fought the charge and won with a good attorney, he said he decided he did the wrong thing and agreed to plead guilty.
Lane said he has not taken the time to have his record expunged. But he said he took the steps necessary to have his voting rights restored along with the ability to run for office.
Records at the Rutherford County Election Office show he had his voting rights restored through the state Division of Elections in 2006 while living in Crossville. When he registered in Rutherford County, he listed that he had been convicted of a felony and went through the steps required by law to vote, according to records.
In addition, he said he obtained his contractor’s license and went through a state background check before being hired by the state as an instructor at Nashville Tech.
“I’m not going to let it define me,” he said. In fact, he believes the experience allows him to better identify with his students, many of whom have been in legal trouble. “I now have a unique perspective,” he added.
And even though he said he would do things differently if he had the chance, he wouldn’t do it at the expense of the lessons he learned.