Two More Lawmakers May Face Ethics Hearing - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Capitol Hill Corruption

Two More Lawmakers May Face Ethics Hearing

(Story created: 8/8/05)

As the fallout continues from the investigation of Capitol Hill Corruption, ethics charges against State Sen. Jerry Cooper and House Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry are moving forward.

Sen. Cooper, from Warren County, will face an ethics investigation after the head of the Senate Ethics Committee issued a memo referring the case to a special subcommittee.

Cooper chairs the Senate's powerful commerce committee.

As a NewsChannel 5 investigation first revealed, Cooper convinced state officials to provide money to build a rail connection to some land he owned, which helped him sell the property for a big profit.

A federal bank fraud indictment over the land deal recently named Cooper as an unindicted co-conspirator.

"The old famous statement, it doesn't pass the smell test. This isn't quite as bad as Senator Ford, let's put it that way, but at the same time I could see how the dots could be connected," Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Ron Ramsey said.

The subcommittee will decide whether there's probable cause to charge Cooper with violating the Senate's ethics code.

Meanwhile, the fallout continues from the FBI's undercover sting. An ethics complaint against House Speaker Pro Tem Lois DeBerry will be referred to attorneys, then it will go the full House Ethics Committee.

Deberry has admitted accepting $200 gambling money from undercover agents.

Still, she insists she didn't do anything wrong.

And, there are also continued questions about whether any indicted lawmakers may try to cut deals with prosecutors.

Asked about that, all a lawyer for former Senator Roscoe Dixon would say is, "I'm mum."

A legislative committee continued to explore ideas about cleaning up Capitol Hill.

One idea: outlawing cash campaign contributions, like the ones that several lawmakers say they took from undercover agents.

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