It took nearly a year, but the Tennessee statehouse finally did the right thing.
After years of sexting female interns, Tennessee GOP state Rep. Jeremy Durham has been expelled from the legislative body by a vote of 70-2, the first time any member has been kicked out since 1980.
And no one was happier about the decision than House Speaker Beth Harwell.
“I’m very pleased that the House made the decision it did today,” she said. “This was good for the taxpayers of the state. It was good for the victims of the state.”
Back in January, Harwell actually had to take the unprecedented step of warning female interns to stay away from creepy lawmakers like Durham.
“As a precautionary measure, I have instructed the Director of the Internship program that interns are not to attend receptions or events related to the legislature, and they are not to give their cell phone numbers to members,” she announced.
Furthermore, an official assessment by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery found that Durham is a real threat to the safety of women who work in the Capitol.
“Based upon the information gathered thus far, Representative Durham’s alleged behavior may pose a continuing risk to unsuspecting women who are employed by or interact with the legislature,” Slatery said.
In addition, Slatery found that Durham held “a superior position of power to the women,” obtained their contact information under false pretenses, tried to meet with the women alone and contacted them “about non-legislative matters,” tried to serve them alcohol, and made inappropriate comments and “engaged in inappropriate physical contact with some women.”
In fact, Durham posed such a safety risk that Speaker Harwell actually had to move his office to a completely different building and restricted his access to many buildings and areas to prevent him from sexually harassing women.
Tennessee GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes is also pleased that Durham’s time in the legislature is over and regrets that the members had to deal with the scandal in the first place.
“I am saddened that all of my former colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, have been placed in this terrible position by the reprehensible misbehavior of one,” he said.
Frankly, instead of continuing to attack same-sex marriage and women’s rights, perhaps the Tennessee legislature should get busy passing laws to protect women from sleazy hypocritical conservative lawmakers who claim to be all about “family values.”
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