Speaker Harwell says members have ‘had enough time’ on Durham ouster

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, TENN. (WKRN) – While Thursday’s elections meant the Tennessee state lawmaker accused of sexual harassment won’t be representing his Williamson County district beyond November, petition efforts from fellow lawmakers to remove Rep. Jeremy Durham immediately appear all but over in the Republican dominated House.

“They have been up there a week. It’s been in the news almost two weeks, so I think my members have had enough time to sign them,” said House Speaker Beth Harwell Friday morning. “I think we have legitimate concerns that we don’t want to victimize these women again and we certainly don’t want to cost the state more money than we would actually save.”

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

It was a reference to Durham’s annual potential of $3,000 to $4,000 yearly at retirement age if he serves a full four years in the legislature.

Her words also touched on the 22 women named in an attorney general’s report who allegedly had some form of sexual harassment from Rep. Durham.

Speaker Harwell acknowledged Friday as a self-imposed deadline for the petitions, “because we have to get this concluded. Whatever the House does, the Senate is going to have to do the same process. That is going to take time and we are running out of time.”

Two petitions have been at the state capitol requiring 66 signatures—two thirds—of House members to call a special session.

One of the petitions is in House Republican leader Gerald McCormick’s office. It calls for the immediate removal of Durham which would effectively take away his pension because he does not have the required full years to qualify.

The other petition includes Durham’s immediate removal, but also includes a call to oust Knoxville Democrat Joe Armstrong as well that is facing tax evasion charges.

Some Republicans feel Armstrong should be included in the special session because he improperly used his state office to profit from alleged cigarette tax scheme.

Copyright 2016 WKRN. All rights reserved.

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