ShareThis Page
Tenn. House boots member accused of harassment |

Tenn. House boots member accused of harassment

The Associated Press
| Tuesday, September 13, 2016 6:12 p.m

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee House voted Tuesday to expel Republican state Rep. Jeremy Durham following allegations of widespread sexual harassment.

The chamber voted 70-2 to expel a sitting member for the first time in 36 years.

The vote to expel Durham of Franklin followed an attorney general’s investigation that detailed allegations of improper sexual contact with at least 22 women over the course of his four years in office.

Among other things, the report alleged that Durham plied a 20-year-old college student with a cooler full of beer and had sex with her in his office in 2014. Another woman interviewed was a lobbyist who nicknamed Durham “Pants Candy” after she said he rummaged in his pocket before suggestively offering her a dirty, unwrapped mint.

Durham denied that the allegations in the report should be considered sexual harassment, and argued that a floor session did not give him enough opportunity to mount a defense.

“This is an expulsion proceeding — the idea that I would have due process right now is ridiculous,” Durham said. “If somebody wants to let me confront accusers, let me present my own evidence, that’s fine. But this is not the forum to do it.”

Durham said he had assembled materials about each of the incidents outlined in the report, but that the open floor session wasn’t the proper venue to bring them up. “I assure you, you do not want me releasing some of the things that are in this binder,” he said.

Durham left the chamber after a series of questions posed by House Democratic Leader Mike Stewart of Nashville, causing an uproar among other lawmakers who wanted to pose more questions. Democrats tried to get House Speaker Beth Harwell to order Durham to return to the chamber, but the motion was voted down by Republicans.

The last member to be expelled from the General Assembly was then-Rep. Robert Fisher, who was ousted on a 92-1 vote in 1980. The Elizabethton Republican had been convicted of asking for a bribe to kill a bill.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.