Ramsey alleges Durham affair with ex-lawmaker

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The latest on state Rep. Jeremy Durham, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment and other questionable behavior (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says state Rep. Jeremy Durham had an affair with another lawmaker, causing her to resign.

Ramsey made the comments to reporters after a legislative preview session hosted by The Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association on Thursday.

Republican Rep. Leigh Wilburn of Somerville resigned just one year into her first term last month due to unspecified “unforeseen circumstances.” She hasn’t spoken to reporters about her decision to step down, and a relative said she has since changed her phone numbers.

Durham did not immediately respond to text or email messages seeking comment. An automated email response said the Franklin Republican would be away “for a couple of weeks for personal reasons.”

Ramsey called on the House to expel Durham if he refuses to resign.

12:00 p.m.

House Speaker Beth Harwell says Rep. Jeremy Durham is taking leave from the Legislature amid sexual harassment allegations.

Harwell told reporters after a legislative preview session hosted by The Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association on Thursday that Durham could be away from the Capitol for up to two weeks.

Durham stepped down as House majority whip on Sunday and then withdrew from the House Republican caucus on Wednesday. But the Franklin lawmaker has denied any wrongdoing and has so far pledged to mount an aggressive re-election campaign.

Harwell has been joined by several other prominent Republicans urging Durham to consider resigning from the Legislature, including Gov. Bill Haslam, state GOP Chairman Ryan Haynes, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.

___

11:10 a.m.

House Speaker Beth Harwell is getting legal advice about how or whether the chamber could expel fellow Republican state Rep. Jeremy Durham amid allegations of sexual harassment and other questionable behavior.

But Harwell told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday that she hopes it doesn’t need to come to that if he steps down on his own.

In the Nashville Republican’s words: “As I’ve said all along, I think it has been his best interest to resign.”

Several women have alleged inappropriate behavior by Durham both in person and via text messages, but none have filed a formal complaint.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada says he’s against a move to expel Durham without a finding by the Legislature’s human resources department.

Durham didn’t attend Thursday’s floor session.

Copyright 2016 AP. All rights reserved.

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