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Durham Says He Won't Attend Special Session

Posted at 10:16 AM, Sep 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-12 18:50:25-04

Embattled state Rep. Jeremy Durham has released an 8-page letter saying he won't attend this week’s special session that could oust him. 

In the letter dated Monday, Durham addresses the House Chamber, saying he will “stay away in protest” from the special session that could result in his expulsion.

The Republican, who has represented the 65th district, added his "sole motivation" in the letter is to "maintain my innocence." Durham also said he doesn't believe he will receive "due process" during an ouster proceeding but urges members to contact him to hear his explanations. 

The last time Tennessee lawmakers took a vote to expel a sitting member of the General Assembly, the ousted representative issued a stern warning to his colleagues: "I won't be the last."

But for the next 36 years no other lawmaker has been booted under the Legislature's constitutional power to discipline or oust members deemed to have engaged in "disorderly behavior."

House Speaker Beth Harwell said that's likely to change during this week's special legislative session called to avoid losing $60 million in federal road money because of an underage drunken driving law.

Harwell said an effort to remove Rep. Durham has enough support to expel him.

However, late Monday afternoon Rep. Rick Womick filed an ethics complaint against Speaker Harwell, saying she abused her position and influence as Speaker to oust Durham.

Durham is the subject of an attorney general's investigation that detailed allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with more than 20 women.