Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell and GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada said they would now consider a special-called session to expel Franklin Rep. Jeremy Durham.
In a change of position, both Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell and GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada have decided they would now consider trying to hold a special-called session to expel Franklin Rep. Jeremy Durham.
Harwell drafted a statement Thursday afternoon, saying she supported Casada (R-Franklin) and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) to have a special-called session to expel not only Durham but Joe Armstrong (D-Knoxville). Armstrong is under fire for a federal indictment. On Wednesday, House Democrat Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) pushed for Republicans to reconsider a special session saying Durham would keep his lifetime pension if he remained in office until November.
“While it is up to the voters of 65th District to determine whether Rep. Durham is on the ballot in November, it is up to the members of the Tennessee General Assembly to determine whether he should be expelled, which would ensure he does not receive retirement benefits,” Harwell said. “As I noted yesterday, it will take two-thirds of both chambers to call the Tennessee General Assembly back into a special session. My primary concerns are protecting the victims and ensuring Rep. Durham is removed from office. Once again, I call on him to resign, and save the taxpayers’ dollars.”
According to Harwell, it will cost $25,000 to host a special-session.
Durham has been under continued scrutiny since the a Special Ad Hoc committee voted for the release of a report that detailed inappropriate behavior from the incumbent for House District 65, which had pages worth of allegations from female legislators, lobbyists and interns, including examples of inappropriate text messages, offering an under-age intern alcohol, and inappropriate sexual conduct in his office in the legislature.
Casada said he believed both Durham and Armstrong should be out of the legislature. But he originally said two weeks ago he wasn’t sure they could logistically call everyone back to Nashville during the election session. He said the fact that Durham could keep his pension was overlooked until recently.
“The speaker is calling for a special-session, and I will vote for a special session to (address) Jeremy Durham and Joe Armstrong,” he said. “One has been investigated by the FBI with indictments handed out, and the other by the Tennessee Attorney General. Both men have not conducted themselves in a trustworthy manner and both should be expelled.”
While Durham’s pension is at stake, the embattled Republican would have to pay the full cost of any health benefits once he left the legislature, Casada said.
Harwell and Casada estimate the special-session could happen in August after the primary. Durham will face Sam Whitson on the ballot. The winner of that will face Holly McCall in November.