Williamson reps react to identification in Durham report


Williamson reps react to identification in Durham report

By EMILY R. WEST

On Friday morning, the Nashville Scene revealed the identity of two Williamson legislators listed in the Attorney General’s report dealing with expelled member Jeremy Durham.

The names of the legislators who interviewed with Attorney General Herbert Slatery III remained anonymous in the 52-page report until this week. Back in July, a special ad-hoc committee released Slatery’s finding, which went into detail about those who interviewed about Durham’s behavior. Tennessee Democrats have called for one particular legislator to resign this week for allegedly firing one aid who reported Durham harassing her.

“People have a right to know — in a public report on the most important public body in the state — about the conduct of their legislators,” The Scene wrote. “If voters want to send them all back to the Hill, great. But sweeping this all under the rug and hoping it will go away is the kind of behavior that got us here in the first place.”

Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin) said he had took no issue with The Scene claiming he was Rep. John Doe No. 55. He is running again for House District 61 seat unopposed in the general election.

“I have nothing to hide,” he said in an interview the Home Page on Friday. “I didn’t feel like they hung me out or anything. I went on about my business.”

The report recounted an incident with a member of Sargent’s staff. She received a text from Durham, saying he was going to “steal” her away from his office. According to the report, Durham later told Sargent in the elevator “the young, hot assistant is such a cliche.”

I was interviewed with the Attorney General,” he said. “I asked her if she wanted to report what happened, and she said, ‘No, she had taken care of it.’ I wanted to make sure she talked to her husband. I asked her if she wanted to report it and she said no.”

There was also another incident where a Jane Doe asked Sargent to do something about the text messages at a Republican caucus fundraiser.

According to the report, the Jane Doe shook her phone at Sargent, saying “you are going to have to fix this.” Sargent said he didn’t remember that particular incident.

If you asked me three months ago, I would have told you I was interviewed,” he said. “I have nothing to hide, and they called me into interview me and I told him what I knew. I told the AG I don’t hang out with these people. I maybe socialized with Jeremy two or three times in his whole fours years at the legislature.”

The Scene identified incumbent Glen Casada (R-Thompson’s Station) as Rep. John Doe No. 13.

Casada said felt he angry with The Scene with for reporting the names of legislators.

He said he wouldn’t confirm nor deny his number to protect those that he spoken about to the Attorney General under anonymity.

In his interview to Attorney General, Rep. John Doe No. 13 said he had made inquiries to lobbyists about Durham’s behavior. Both denied that Durham had sent them inappropriate texts.

“They are insinuating names, and they are bringing and pointing fingers to the young men and women who came forward,” Casada said. “This is the opposite of what you do on the issue of sexual harassment. You don’t know need to know who gets harassed. Then actions are taken, and it’s over. It’s reckless and immoral. It’s poor journalism on The Scene’s part. For once, I agree with The Tennessean.”

The Tennessean wrote an editorial on Friday morning explaining why it won’t name legislators in the report.

They are trying to expose interns and lobbyists,” Casada said. “I don’t get it.”

Emily West covers the City of Franklin, education and high school football for the Franklin Home Page. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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