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GOP Rep, Who Voted To Expel Tennessee Three, Expels Himself After Report Of Gross Workplace Harassment
State House Speaker knew about report but did nothing, just before moving to expel Tennessee Three.
When Tennessee House Republicans voted to expel Democratic Rep. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, they didn’t bother trying to make their actions look less racist than they were. They even spared Rep. Gloria Johnson, who broke the same “rules” as her Black colleagues.
However, state Rep. Scotty Campbell voted to remove the entire Tennessee Three, knowing full well he had his own ethics issues far more severe than standing with constituents who advocated for gun safety legislation. Weeks earlier, an intern had complained to legislative officials that Campbell had made gross, sexual comments that made her feel “progressively more afraid and uncomfortable.”
The Washington Post reports that a bipartisan ethics subcommittee informed Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton on March 29 that an internal investigation concluded Campbell had violated the Tennessee General Assembly workplace policy on discrimination and harassment. Campbell, the Republican caucus vice chair, had serially harassed at least two legislative interns. Nonetheless, he remained in office for another three weeks and cast judgment against Johnson, Jones, and Pearson.
Last week, Sexton claimed he “has no role in putting out any kind of corrective action. That comes from the subcommittee.” This is less than plausible, considering he actively supported expelling legislators who joined a protest, but Republicans have a pattern of inaction when it comes to sexual misconduct from their caucus members. This includes state Rep. David Byrd, who was accused in 2018 of sexually assaulting three minors when he coached their basketball team. Although he denied the allegations and smeared his accusers, a recording surfaced where he all but confessed to the charges. Rep. Johnson had twice tried to have Byrd expelled, but Republican leadership protected him.
Also that year, Rep. Rick Staples (D) stepped down from the House Ethics Committee after the subcommittee determined he had violated the legislature’s sexual harassment policy. And the House Republican Caucus held a 45-24 no-confidence vote on then-Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (R) after text messages emerged showing he encouraged or approved of his chief of staff making disparaging and sexual comments about women, including interns and a lobbyist.
Tennessee Republicans are shameless but it’s clear they also overreached. They made the Tennessee Three national figures while also drawing unwanted scrutiny on their own corrupt asses. Journalists are currently looking into Sexton's living arrangements and possible per diem abuse.
NewsChannel 5 reported Thursday that it had obtained an email detailing the complaints against Campbell, and when WTVF-TV asked Campbell, a former professional wrestling promoter, about the ethics panel’s findings, he continued his heel offensive, insisting that the alleged sexual comments were part of “consensual, adult conversations with two adults off property.” This defense is a more disgusting variation of the Homer Simpson line that it “takes two to lie — one to lie, and one to listen.”
Campbell even suggested that the problem was that the interns’ girl ears are just too sensitive, so he’d take precautions.
“If I choose to talk to any intern in the future, it will be recorded,” Campbell said.
Apparently, recording legislative interns for his private use wasn’t a viable option, and Campbell eventually issued his resignation just six hours after WTVF questioned him.
Rep. Johnson called the allegations against Campbell “horrendous” and denounced the inconsistent manner in which Republican leadership handled rules violations. Republicans have, after all, put themselves on record as supporting a colleague who harassed interns but, as Johnson notes, if you’re a Democrat who talks “without permission, you get expulsion resolutions."
Republicans are distancing themselves from this mess, though, and leaving Sexton on the hook. State Rep. Jeremy Faison, the Republican caucus chairman, told the Post Thursday, “I was not made aware of the allegations or ethics investigation until this morning. The House has accepted his resignation. The caucus will hold an election to fill his position at a later date.”
When Rep. Jones was reinstated, he demanded that Sexton resign. That argument has only grown more compelling.
[ Washington Post ]
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