Democratic Caucus Calls For Bi-Partisan Panel

Posted at 7:12 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 22:27:15-05

Conflict continued over Representative Jeremy Durham Tuesday. Democrats called for a bipartisan committee with subpoena powers to review Durham and the allegations against him.

A special caucus meeting was called later that evening to discuss allegations against Druham. There will be a vote tomorrow morning to kick Durham out of the Republican caucus. Durham believes he can get enough votes to "survive."

GOP leaders called for Durham's resignation amid newspaper accounts that he sent inappropriate text messages to women on Capitol Hill.

Speaker Beth Harwell announced Monday she would put together a committee of independent panelists to review the sexual harassment policy at the legislature which is 19 years old.

Members included Lipscomb Associate Dean Allison Duke, attorney Dianne Neal, public policy expert Frank Gibson as well as the legislature's attorney and administration director.

However, for the House Democratic Caucus it wasn’t enough. Members requested a bi-partisan committee equally made up of Democrats and Republicans to investigate the allegations surrounding Durham.

The committee would also have subpoena powers. They said the process has not been fair to the women who are making allegations or Representative Durham.

Durham has repeatedly said the process has not been fair.

“We need a special committee to specifically look into the break down that occured in this case and allowed sexual harassment allegations to be unaddressed,” said Representative Mike Stewart (D).

“This is why the young ladies did not come forward, because they knew the Democratic Party would try to make this a political gain,” said Representative Glen Casada (R).

Governor Haslam also weighed in on the ongoing controversy surrounding Durham. He said it will be difficult for Durham to represent his constituency.

“We're all here to represent a constituency, and I think Representative Durham needs to ask himself how effective can I be representing my constituency at this point,” said Haslam.

Durham attended committee meetings Tuesday at Legislative Plaza. He said he wouldn’t resign, and would let the voters of Williamson County decide his fate on Election Day.

Haslam said he would think hard about resigning if he were in a similar situation.