Rep. Durham Steps Down From GOP Leadership Post

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jan 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-24 19:51:52-05

A Tennessee lawmaker who narrowly escaped being ousted from House leadership earlier in January has announced he’s resigning as majority whip.

Republican state Representative Jeremy Durham of Franklin told colleagues of his decision Sunday.

The move came the same day media reports were released of three women who work at the Legislature who allegedly received inappropriate text messages from the married lawmaker.

Previous revelations included that Durham in 2014 wrote a character reference on behalf of a youth pastor who pleaded guilty to a federal child porn possession, and that prosecutors earlier that year sought prescription fraud charges against the lawmaker. A grand jury declined to bring an indictment against Durham.

The whip has been in charge of incumbents' re-election efforts, and some Republicans worried that Durham remaining in that role could make donors skittish.

Sunday evening, Durham released the following statement:

"Today, I have advised Speaker Beth Harwell, Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Caucus Chair Glen Casada that I am resigning my Caucus position as Majority Whip.  I will continue to work for all Tennesseans and lead the fight in the legislature to support and uphold our state’s conservative values.     

I appreciate the support shown for me by my colleagues during the recent Caucus meeting that resulted in me retaining my position as Majority Whip. However, it is clear that the relentless media-driven agenda against me will continue no matter the position I hold. This targeted media campaign continues to distract our Caucus and the Legislature from focusing on the serious work that must be done over the next few months. 

Stepping aside from my leadership position is my best attempt to put an end to my role in the distraction.  It is my duty as a Representative of my district and also as a Caucus leader to ensure that the state’s business comes first -- and any good leader recognizes when it’s time to take a small step back for the greater good.

I will continue to focus on the concerns of my constituents and the State of Tennessee, lead the fight on conservative issues, and aggressively pursue re-election. By stepping aside, it is my hope that the Caucus, the Legislature, and perhaps even the media can avoid any further distractions and return our collective attention to the important issues that impact the lives of our fellow Tennesseans."