Rep. Durham Stepping Away From GOP Caucus

Posted at 6:27 AM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 21:59:49-05

Embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham said he’s stepping away from the GOP caucus, but will remain a representative of Williamson County. 

Durham made his announcement Wednesday morning at Legislative Plaza following a specially called Republican Caucus meeting Tuesday night surrounding allegations of inappropriate text messages.

"I don't want to be a distraction to the the caucus," Durham said. "I don't want to put you in a bad position. That's why I stepped down as Whip because I didn't want to put you guys in a bad position." 

By stepping away, Durham can no longer receive funding or attend caucus meetings.

Governor Bill Haslam added his input Tuesday, saying he'd strongly consider resigning if he were the Williamson County representative. 

“As a Republican leader yourself, do you think he should step down in your opinion,” Haslam was asked.
“In my opinion, it will be hard for him to be effective representing his constituency at this point,” the governor responded.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada said Durham doesn't lose his GOP affiliation by disassociating with the caucus, but will not be eligible to vote on priorities or receive joint campaign funds.

Casada said he doesn't know whether it would require a vote to readmit Durham at some later date.

Meanwhile, Members with the House Democratic caucus have called for a bipartisan committee equally made up with members of parties to review Durham and the allegations against him. That committee would also have subpoena powers.

Durham said he is not going anywhere as a representative despite the allegations, and plans on running for re-election this year.

Democrats said several Republican leaders knew about the allegations, but still voted to keep him as Majority Whip two weeks ago.

Durham stepped down as Majority Whip over the weekend, feeling the recent events have become a distraction to the caucus.

However, Durham said the process has been unfair.

“I just can't respond to anonymous, vague accusations on multiple occasions such as what are the context of these texts, and I haven't got back with anything,” Durham told NewsChannel 5 reporter Mark Bellinger.

At this point, none of his accusers have come forward or file sexual harassment complaints.