Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Update: The Risky Business of Quincy McKnight

Hattie Bryant
by Hattie Bryant - Anyone reading this column probably knows that Quincy McKnight is running for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District seat. Because of my past work experience I know his type and, frankly, he gives me the creeps. 

From 1994 until 2007 my husband and I produced a television series called Small Business School. It aired on most PBS-member stations and was sponsored by IBM, BusinessWeek, AT&T, the United States Postal Service, Mass Mutual, Travelers, Dun & Brandstreet, Microsoft, Verizon, Thomson Learning and Qwest. We re-purposed these programs into video companions for 50 college textbooks for Thomson Learning and Prentice-Hall. I am an expert on small business. 

Mr. McKnight represents one of the archetypes of small business owners. An expert at merchant payment processing, he is a salesman, par excellence, with a big, bold, charismatic personality. This type of businessperson (think owners of car dealerships) can succeed at building a business but only when they are able to hire process leaders to manage the backend. This is what Mr. McKnight has never been able to do. 

Before Mr. McKnight launched the merchant payment processing company Covenant Pay Partners (CPP) in March of 2020, his other merchant payment company QPay failed. While Mr. McKnight purports he sold QPay, the TN Department of Revenue records show otherwise as QPay remains on the books but is designated dormant since 2007. From what I’m told, Mr. McKnight had to look for a job as he needed cash. Perhaps more importantly, he needed cash to satisfy payments due to rulings by a bankruptcy judge.  

Yesterday I spoke to an executive with a large merchant card processor in Nashville who told me that in September of 2019 Mr. McKnight applied for a position at his company. This executive said Mr. McKnight’s resume is total fabrication. For example, Mr. McKnight says he worked for JP Morgan, no. He has never worked for JP Morgan. This company took Mr. McKnight through its multi-visit interview process and on a scale of zero-10 he scored zero on every part of the interview process. 

This information alone is enough for me to disqualify Mr. McKnight as a candidate to work for us in Washington D. C. Yet, there’s more. 

Mr. McKnight did get a job at NaviHealth I believe. I have no idea what he did there but, in that time, he met his now partner, Dan Percey. According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. Percey has an MBA. Apparently, Mr. Percey saw in Mr. McKnight the charming, charismatic person many see, especially women. Mr. Percey learned process leadership to earn that MBA so just maybe Mr. Percey could be the process leader to help Mr. McKnight succeed. By the way, others in the community have tried to help Mr. McKnight but even the elders of his church purportedly failed, and they had to ask him to leave the congregation. I was told, “He was thrown out of his church.”  

According to publicly accessible business records, Quincy McKnight and Dan Percey formed Covenant Pay Partners as a registered Independent Sales Organization (ISO) sponsored by Wells Fargo, a member of the Visa Credit Card Association. Mr. McKnight holds 51% and Mr. Percey 49%. This arrangement is not because Mr. McKnight has the leadership ability to be the majority owner, it is because Mr. Percey is smart. Making Mr. McKnight the majority owner means Covenant Pay Partners qualifies for the Small Business Administration 8(a) program for disadvantaged business. This means Covenant Pay Partners has access to work that Mr. Percey, as a white man, could never approach. Today the black business owner has even more advantage than the law allows as big corporations are now all “woke.” A large corporation will make it part of their own marketing strategy to find black and brown-owned companies to buy from since the Federal Government has a goal to award at least 5% of all its contracts to 8(a) certified businesses. Can’t you just see Mr. Percey’s cash register ringing in his head?  

I know much about this minority-owned business approach because I have attended many national meetings of the Small Business Administration. I have met many men like Mr. Percey who use minorities as their front. Of course, it’s legal. The certification process is arduous, and at this time I do not know if the certification has been completed but on the website of Covenant Pay Partners, we see this:  

As a minority-owned business, Covenant Pay Partners is intimately familiar with the challenges such companies face; we strive to support and promote racial equality and all those who seek it.  

From what I gather, Covenant Pay Partners offers its services to retailers, and it has nothing to distinguish itself from dozens of local competitors other than by exploiting its minority-owned status. Go to the website of any other payment processors and you’ll see that they all offer the same services. Covenant Pay Partners owns nothing and has no proprietary technology as it, like their competitors, uses existing payment facilitators such as NuCor and First Data to process payments for merchants. These facilitators charge for the transactions coming through their platforms, so Covenant Pay must add to that charge to make any money.  

Therefore, how does a merchant card processor differentiate itself in the marketplace?  

In my assessment, Mr. Percey hit on a brilliant idea. He, like most of us discovered that in 2019 PayPal, one of the largest card processors in the world, enlisted the Southern Poverty Law Center to assist in determining which customers to allow onto the PayPal enterprise and which to exclude. Guess who PayPal excludes? Conservatives. It is not inconceivable that Mr. Percey calculates if they run Mr. McKnight as a Republican for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, it’s a win-win. First, a win for Covenant Pay Partners as it will scoop up the companies dismissed by PayPal. Second, it’s a win for the local Republican party as we certainly need a black or brown face, right? We are way too white.  

The problem with running Mr. McKnight for public office is his history is a mess. Wives and other women everywhere create a sticky wicket. A few sources reveal that many pushed Mr. McKnight to marry his current girlfriend, Hana. A quick scan for marriage licenses indicates that hasn’t happened. In fact, it hasn’t happened because Mr. McKnight is still married to his second wife.  

Then there’s the problem of Mr. McKnight’s failure to comply with election rules when he ran in 2014 for Tennessee State Senate District 21. Specifically, the TN Bureau of Election and Campaign Finance (BECF) and the TN Registry of Elections Finance (TERF) indicated that Mr. McKnight failed to file required campaign finance documents and missed several mandatory reporting dates. Furthermore, the Tennessee government ultimately fined Mr. McKnight after he ignored a notice to appear before the Election of Registry Finance. Since he is currently running for TN’s 5th Congressional District, it’s obvious he cleaned up his missed obligations to the Tennessee gov’t which included the payment of his delinquent fines.  

According to the Federal Election Commission, Mr. McKnight filed his FEC Forms 1 and 2 in February 2021. He hired Troy Brewer as his campaign’s treasurer. As the first to declare for the 5th district, no doubt Quincy gained attention from some powerful people in the political class. Several sources indicate Mr. McKnight received calls from Ward Baker regarding campaign advice and the need to clean up his personal life. Rumor has it that Quincy owed child support with an arrearage of many thousands of dollars.  

In spite of all this, one can guess the business plan for Covenant Pay Partners. Through Mr. McKnight’s run for congress, he makes contacts with business leaders and politicians. He then forwards those contacts to Mr. Percey who converts those business contacts to CPP clients. Recall Mr. McKnight’s close contact with Vernon Jones in early 2021?  

Are you ready for this? Vernon Jones endorsed Mr. McKnight, right? Everybody knows that and many old guard white Republicans were very impressed. In fact, Williamson County Republican Party paid travel and hotel expenses for Mr. Jones to speak on October 30, 2020. I can not confirm how many days he spent in Nashville or if he spoke for other groups while he was here. It would not surprise me if somehow Quincy McKnight met Mr. Jones around that time.   According to WCRP members, Mr. Jones spoke with several groups to include the Young Republicans.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you may have noticed on the CPP website that Vernon Jones was named Vice President of Government Relations for Covenant Pay Partners. Wonder what he was paid or is currently paid to work for Covenant Pay? You can see the connection: Mr. Jones leverages his high profile to engage businesses and politicians. He then introduces Mr. McKnight who passes the contact to Mr. Percey. Mr. Percey converts the contact to a CPP client and Mr. Jones receives a commission on the deal. For a while, Mr. McKnight bragged that he was picking up Edible Arrangements headquartered in Atlanta. It’s not a giant leap of logic as to whether Mr. Jones brokered this connection. Perhaps someone can pick this up and dig a little deeper.  

It appeared all headed in the right direction for Mr. McKnight…until recently.  

Information from the FEC indicates Mr. Brewer resigned in July as Mr. McKnight’s campaign treasurer. Additionally, the FEC records that the Quincy McKnight for Congress Campaign raised zero dollars since launching his campaign. This is disastrous for a candidate especially when running against an incumbent with a one-million-dollar war chest, a second democrat in the primary with a criminal record sitting on top of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in campaign funds and a Republican challenger, Mr. Robby Starbuck, who reports nearly fifty thousand in campaign funds after only a few weeks in the race.  

Regardless of Mr. McKnight’s personal difficulties and his former campaign complications, Covenant Pay Partners probably calculates that keeping Mr. McKnight in the congressional race promotes their very small business which contains only a few 1099 salespeople and furthers this small business’ chances of becoming a national powerhouse. Just think if Mr. McKnight wins this race, he’ll be another Hillary Clinton pay-to-play politician.  

Keeping in mind the quotes: “Your brand name is only as good as your reputation.” – Richard Branson “Your personal brand is a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.” – Jason Hartman  

The statements below are what people I have talked to who have either interviewed Mr. McKnight for a job or who have worked with him in business have to say about his actions and reputation: 
  • He spends more than he makes. 
  • His net worth is probably zero. 
  • He has stiffed attorneys around town. 
  • He treats his business like a personal piggy bank. 
  • He makes contacts while running for Congress and playing rich guy in local bars. 
  • He’s undisciplined in every aspect of his life. 
  • He lies more than he tells the truth. 
  • He’s not a serious businessman. 
  • He’s not a serious candidate. 
  • He doesn’t have a trust. 
  • He doesn’t have investors. 
  • He’s immoral, unethical, and deceitful. 
  • He lives with a girlfriend while he still has a wife. 
  • His sisters have nothing to do with him.  
At a recent meeting of the Cheatham County Republican Party, an active member caught Mr. McKnight as he removed candidate Robby Starbuck’s campaign print material from a table and threw it in the trash. Mr. McKnight then placed his own campaign material on the table.  

As a Republican for decades, I have never been more embarrassed for my party. Keep in mind that Bill Freeman, the largest Democrat donor in Nashville, owns the Nashville Post and the Nashville Scene. If Mr. McKnight continues his congressional campaign, we are bound to see what Mr. Freeman’s team of reporters already have ready to print to make it easy for Jim Cooper to win big and keep us Republicans on the defense. They won’t be near as kind to Mr. McKnight as I have been. 

Hattie Bryant is a Nashvillian active in civic and political affairs and is a successful author. You can learn about me at authorhattiebryant.com.

Also see, "How is Quincy McKnight financing his campaign?" by Hattie Bryant. 

This 8/25/2021 update contains minor changes made at the request of the author. Rod

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1 comment:

  1. People should get their story straight before posting. Vernon Jones was a speaker last year for the Williamson County Republican Party (WCRP) in October which had nothing to do with Quincy McKnight. A woman of your caliber shouldn't write things that's not true - adding the WCRP in your smear and assumption campaign is appalling.

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