Aunt Nikki


Move over Aunt Jemima. There is a new corporate mammy in town. EMILY’s List, the “feminist” political action committee that uses the pretext of gender equality to support status quo females in their quest for power and prestige in the halls of congress, has endorsed Nikki Tinker, Harold Ford Jr’s malevolent protégé, against progressive Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen.

The decision to support Nikki Tinker is typical of the brand of corporate feminism that EMILY’s List is known for. There are only two requirements for endorsement: the resourcefulness to raise sufficient cash to be viable enough to justify turning on the pac spigot, and the good fortune of being born female. Matt Stoller wrote a post on the same topic some weeks ago. One reader of Matt’s post couldn’t have said it better, I never got the sense that EMILY’s List was a progressive organization. Its goal is to provide funding for people with vaginas [and] …some semblance of a pro-choice orientation, especially against opponents who don’t fit those two criteria.”

Skimming through Aunt Nikki’s campaign finance reports, I saw that EMILY’s List founder Ellen Malcolm has taken a personal interest in the corporate mammy by contributing $1250.00 of her own money. The criticism that EMILY’s List is primarily a benevolent pocket for aspiring white women apparently struck close to home and is underscored by the paltry $15,870 in bundled contributions it supplied this year. That’s hardly the level of beneficence provided to the corporate mammy in the last cycle.

Moreover, It is frustrating that the organization will sometimes support a genuine black progressive like Donna Edwards against a corrupt incumbent, then turn around in the same year, and endorse a fraud like Tinker against a more acceptable pro choice and progressive Congressman like Steve Cohen.

Longtime readers of this blog know of the animosity I have for Harold Ford Jr and his demagogic brand of corporate prostitution that masquerades as political centrism. Everything he touches turns to shit and the same could be said of his protégé.

I didn’t think it was possible to be more repellent than Ford, but Aunt Nikki is the willing overseer on Pinnacle Airlines corporate plantation as Vice President for Labor Relations and General Counsel. Aunt Nikki is representative of the lowest form of human life and is the worst kind of counterfeit Negress imaginable. As an employment lawyer, she specializes in destroying employee rights to collectively bargain and be free from workplace racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

Her campaign report is full of two kinds of people, acquaintances from her home state of Alabama and her motley collection of crooked contacts in the business world. The CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, Phil Trenary, her boss and corporate puppet master, is represented, as are Republican corporate employment lawyers from her former law firm, John and Ruth Alley. Finally, there is a member of Pinnacle’s Board of Directors, GOP rainmaker and real estate magnate James McGehee and his kith and kin.

JOHNINE BARNES and NIKKI TINKER-Corporate Doppelgangers separated at birth

Johnine Barnes, an employment lawyer for Washington D.C.’s high-powered Baker & Hostetler, is a fellow corporate employment law predator, Delta Sigma Theta sorority sister, and gal-pal of Nikki Tinker. She is emblematic of the employment lawyer/corporate whore type. Her web profile on the firm’s webpage says it best:

Johnine P. Barnes is experienced in various phases of employment law, including litigating and defending administrative claims of harassment; retaliation and discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, and disability; wrongful discharge and breach of contract issues;

This essentially means that the sister is a professional Uncle Tom who uses her race as a shield to defend corporate clients when they actively discriminate against their employees on the basis of age, race, sex, and disability.

By kicking into Nikki’s congressional kitty, she curries favor with a potential Congresswoman for her firm and its malevolent clients, and she enhances her own prestige, which rightfully ought to be lower than a pedophile.

I am given to colorful hyperbole and I love to kid around, but this is serious “bidness” as my girl Molly Ivins used to say. Baker and Hostetler as a powerful player in the employment law racket because they specialize in defending corporate clients against legitimate discrimination and retaliation suits and they say so on their own damn website.

Baker and Hostetler touts its win over the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when it challenged their client’s callous layoff of a pregnant woman during a workforce reduction. They conceded that she was a good employee with solid performance reviews and they happily defended the company’s effort to cut her loose in the middle of her pregnancy and leave her without income or insurance. We carefully explained the legitimate business reasons for the employee’s inclusion in the reduction (relatively weak technical skill set) and focused on the EEOC’s aggressive treatment of company witnesses at trial. We ultimately succeeded in portraying the EEOC as oppressive and overreaching in attacking the character of reasonable people who honestly made the difficult business decision of whom to include in a workforce reduction.”

Additionally, Baker and Hostetler markets itself as a firm that specializes in using technicalities to get legitimate lawsuits dismissed in the earliest stages of litigation and for ultimately destroying class action lawsuits against guilty clients who had the misfortune of being sued by competent counsel. Employment-related class action lawsuits are on the rise. The potential for large recoveries, adverse publicity and expensive litigation threaten a company’s bottom line, stock value and reputation. At Baker Hostetler, we are known for our ability to end class actions before they begin through creative case management, motion practice and aggressive defeat of class certification.”

As further proof of their mendacity, they site their triumph in a sex discrimination case where they denied hundreds of women their day in court, “After obtaining denial of a motion for class certification of a class of several hundred female employees, we obtained summary judgment on behalf of our FORTUNE 100 client on the plaintiff’s individual claims.”

Finally, I ran across an actual opinion in an Ohio case defended in part by Baker and Hostetler that they actually lost initially. A white plaintiff sued his employer because they fired him in retaliation for informing his only black co-worker that the company had a legal obligation to extend health insurance coverage to him because it extended coverage to everybody else. Several weeks before his termination, the partners in the business wanted him to buy into the company as a partner. After he “betrayed” them, and tried to do right by a brotha, and the brotha brought a legitimate discrimination suit against the company, they cut him loose.

Johnine Barnes is a doppelganger for Nikki Tinker. They’re cut from the same cloth and serve the same nefarious corporate interests on the Dark Side of the Force. One doesn’t get a prestigious job on a corporate plantation before 35 by being the vapid, southern fried, syrupy church lady spouting the self-serving, racially manipulative bullshit we’ve heard from her on the campaign trail.

Aunt Nikki ain’t no fool because a fool isn’t capable of raising close to a million dollars to contest a seat in congress in two election cycles.


The corporate tentacles of GOP power are all over the corporate mammy’s campaign filings. Phil Trenary, the CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, gave, along with his board members McGehee, Schockley, and Hunt, other executives, and their wives, nearly $25,000 to Nikki’s campaign.

McGehee and his kith and kin in particular, are major GOP moneybags having contributed more than $49,000 to the Republican Party and its candidates since 1997 and collectively kicked $8,600 into Aunt Nikki’s campaign coffers.

Other Airline industry players like Colgan Air, Sky West, and Jet Blue funneled nearly $13,000 through their executives to Nikki.

Moreover, law firms specializing in the employment law racket also took special notice of the corporate mammy. Baker & Hostetler, a major right-wing pocket, kicked in $4900. Baker & Hostetler lobbyists and lawyers have given more than $ 70,250 to Republican candidates and organizations in the last three election cycles; a sum, which is four times what they gave to Democrats.

Ford & Harrison, Aunt Nikki’s former law firm and a major employment law predator, kicked $5200 into the coffers of their former colleague. Nine of her colleagues had a favorable impression of Nikki’s Trojan Horse campaign. The Alley’s—both Ruth and J.E. Alley, are Florida attorneys and major Republican donors to both Dubya and Jeb Bush.

Other major employment law firms like Baker & Donnelson, Bryan Cave and Patton Boggs also kicked into Nikki’s kitty with $4,200, $1000, and $1050 respectively.

My colleagues at Black Agenda Report, in their former incarnation as the writers behind Black Commentator, came up with the nifty moniker of Trojan Horse to describe Black Democrats backed surreptitiously by Republican money and the corporate and right-wing foundation elite. They highlighted BET’s Bob Johnson and politicians Cory Booker and Harold Whore, Jr. Speaking of the Whore, he has used his new wife, Emily Threlkeld Ford, to funnel more than $3300 to his protégé. The Trojan Horse moniker definitely fits Nikki Tinker to a T because as her campaign finance report shows, she is a a member in good standing of this right-wing club.

As the moniker from Greek mythology implies, Aunt Nikki is a stealth weapon of the right-wing that optimally would be used to destroy progressive black representation and the social, political, and economic viability of Black Memphis. Unfortunately for our corporate enemies on the right, Aunt Nikki’s campaign exploded today like an IED in a war zone when it released an ad which strikes a note of false religiosity and implies that Steve Cohen is a Jewish interloper unwelcome in black churches and alludes to a bill to protect “religious freedom” and the unfettered right of religious organizations to discriminate against gay and lesbian people. This is the culmination of her clumsy attempts to make inroads with the black ministerial community by pandering to the homophobia of a select group of black pastors.

It looks like the wounds are fatal. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of cynical operators and puppet masters—especially Harold Ford. As of this afternoon, Emily’s List was forced to denounce the ad with egg on their faces. Finally, with the entrance of Black state representative Joe Towns in this race and the loss of prominent civil rights leaders like Maxine Smith, Aunt Nikki’s fantasy of being the power structure’s corporate mammy in Washington is just 24 hours from a lethal rejection by the voters from which there will be no appeal.

24 thoughts on “Aunt Nikki

  1. Chesapeake


    Thanks for highlighting Tinker’s antagonism against workers and the subjugation that workers generally face. Let’s hope for better results today than yesterday in Detriot.

  2. Morris Berg

    That is some actual honest-to-jesus-allah-buddha journalism . . . you know . . . useful information condensed and distilled into an extremely accessible and relevant storyline/narrative (with an appropriate does of colorful hyperbole I might add). Just wanted to give kudos for the impressive work. I hope Tinker’s BS does not prove effective.

  3. It’s sad that so many educated, talented black folk get sucked into corporate positions where they are explicitly asked to stick a knife into their own communities. I can’t count the number of friends I have in law firms, investment banks, ad firms, multi-national corporations and the like, who twist and turn with guilt as they are asked to screw over low-income people of color. We are so programmed to think of these jobs as legitimate and respectable, that it becomes difficult to navigate our careers. This is an added tax, I think, on professional women and people of color, that is rarely discussed.

    I agree with SB’s assessment of this woman’s career. But at the same time, I feel sorry for her and people in her position. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Washington, D.C. and knew Harold Ford when he was a kid. He is just a product of his environment. He comes from a political family that has pushed him to carry on their legacy. As much as I absolutely disagree with Harold’s professional choices and philosophy of political expediency, I bore witness to the tremendous pressure he’s been under to make bad choices.

  4. Damn, SB, I must bow to your prose on this one. As my friend, Big Man would say, this post is a very comprehensive breakdown of her sins, The Whore’s sins and any other corporate lackeys taking payola to keep the people denied of their rights.

    I never flourished in those corporate settings and I now know why – I couldn’t turn my back, cover up, bury or ignore obvious wrongdoing and outright violation of EEO and Civil Rights laws that the organizations I worked for were charged to enforce. In-house employment lawyers work to keep the corporation out of shyt. Those who are good, have managed somehow to settle cases before they became lawsuits. If they went to trial, corporate lawyer better win.

    I’m not an attorney – I was the EEO Analysts in these organizations, often hired because I acquired my expertise in the Fed sector. But when I wouldn’t bend the law to protect my employer, and they wouldn’t accept my recommendation to remedy discrimination, I was shown the door.

    When you earn your cash at the expense of deliberately denying others their rights and purposely keeping them victims, I have no respect for that individual. You can add Barnes and Tinker to that list – and they SHOULD know better.

    Especially if that tide turns – the corporates will sling them under the bus so fast, they won’t know which line hit them.

  5. Since CPL said it, I’ll just have to agree with her. Very good description of the type of black person that poses so much danger to our community. My brother recently ran across a black person like this in the corporate world. I am sickened by black people who allow their skin to serve as a shield for those who practice racism and discrimination against others.

  6. zeitgeist9000

    Wow, SB, you’re headlining Daily Kos right now.

    Apparently, your cogent portrayal of Ms. Tinker is lighting up the Internets!

    The whole anti-Jew skew of her campaign is really disgusting. That’s reason enough not to back her. Harold should ask for his money back.

  7. zeitgeist9000,

    I know, I was just reading it when you posted. I am still in shock. It’s like being touched by God. As for the Whore and his money, it’s too late for that. The Whore is trying clumsily to settle a score from 12 years ago when Cohen ran against him to succeed Harold Sr. It is soooooo transparent and pathetic.

  8. RisingTide

    I did just post a linkie to yours, on kos, about a half-hour beforehand (noting this more because MeteorBlades was floating on by, and decided to comment)

  9. RisingTide


    There appears to be a lively “WTF” floating from kos in your direction about Cory Booker.

    Care to enlighten us about why you think he’s so bad?

  10. GreenLadyHere

    SB: I came all the way over here to say “MUCH LOVE” on the “Aunt Nikki” thread, etc.

    CPL broght over a VERY IMPORTANT political topic and, as a newbie” of 4 months to this “bloggin’ thing”, I APPRECIATE learning like this!!

    :>) :>)

  11. GreenLadyHere

    OOPS! I had a spelling error: broUght I don’t know how to correct. :>) :>) because I admit that I am “technologically-challenged”@ :>)

  12. RisingTide

    thanks, sb.

    Seems like a lotta folks are raisin’ eyebrows at your language. 😉

    I find that … amusing.

    (and that’s me sitting there and reminding people that Negro is not a bad word. did you mean Negress to be a bad word?)

  13. nv

    there’s no need to criticize law firms and/or lawyers for zealously representing their clients. zealous representation within the ethical rules and guidelines is they duty of each lawyer. there is nothing inherently wrong or evil with providing legal representation of corporate interests. a corporation’s right to be represented by a lawyer in an employment discrimination case is equal to the individual’s right to legal representation in bringing such a case. and ascribing the motives, views, and values of a client to the client’s lawyer is flies in the face of basic principles of legal representation, i.e., everyone has a right to a lawyer. i doubt you would speak in the same way about criminal defense lawyers who represent alleged murderers, child molesters, etc. All these people have a right to be represented, and of course we do not judge their lawyers by the conduct of the clients, even when their clients are found guilty.

  14. PS – I know she deserves a beatdown for a whole lot of other stuff, but using racebaiting AND religious bigotry is something that can’t be allowed.

  15. MJ

    Even though I am not familiar with Ten politics-(aside than seeing this story in KO Countdown last night) and live in NJ, your piece was interesting and being Harold Ford nemesis made it more refreshing.

  16. dea

    I was directed to your site from Jack and Jill Politics. This is one of the finest articles I have read in a long time. Facts and passion, a great combination. I have been appalled by the foul tactics “Aunt Nikki” was willing to use, and am so glad that she got her ass whipped! Thanks for this piece. I’ll be back.

  17. nv,

    There’s really nothing for you to worry about. Last time I checked coporations were not in any great danger of losing legal representation. In fact they had more rights than you and me, and are gaining more all the time. One more great reason for…

    One hundred percent publicly-financed campaigns NOW!!

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