Another day, another conservative hypocrite bites the dust. Today Tennessee House Majority Whip Jeremy Durham stepped down from his influential post and as leader of the House Republican Caucus. His resignation follows an unprecedented move by Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes on Sunday, who released a statement saying Durham had resigned.
The reason? Evidently Durham has a dirty mind and a sexy imagination. The good Christian leader was caught red-handed (pun intended) texting inappropriate comments — and requests — to three women who worked at the statehouse.
The charge? Sexual harassment.
The Tennessean reported Sunday that House Republicans were told about a potential sexual harassment complaint involving Durham a week before the House caucus’ Jan. 12 meeting on whether to strip Durham of his leadership role. At that meeting, which Republicans closed to reporters, members argued about procedure but never got to the actual issues that had brought them to consider any action.
What we know is this: One woman, in her mid-20s, said she received late night texts from the Christian lawmaker saying he missed her and requesting pictures. Afraid of retaliation, the incidents went unreported, as did the others.
Contacted by The Tennessean on Sunday about the Republican party announcement that he was resigning, Durham wrote:
“I’m talking it over with my family but have not made a decision. Nothing should’ve gone out. Watching Broncos game at the moment.”
Durham waffled on his resignation on Sunday in several emails to the Tennessean, at which point Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada stated, “I was under the impression that Representative Durham was resigning from his leadership position. He has since contacted me and said his statement was only a draft. This is certainly a surprise to me.”
Next Haynes blasted Durham’s response, stating, “Sexual harassment of any kind is wrong. Voters elect public officials to focus on our communities and our state. Officeholders should not take part in anything that undermines that commitment. This (Durham’s) behavior is a stain on the good work that is done at the Legislature and is not reflective of either the good men and women who work there or the Republican Party.”
Two hours later, Durham confirmed he was stepping aside. Today he announced he would leave his post, but not his seat.
According to Tennessee’s Times Free Press, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Mary Mancini attacked what she called a “culture of secrecy and cover ups” and charged Republicans created a “toxic workplace” with regard to Durham.
“The mishandling of his offensive behavior by House Republican leadership also raises serious questions about the complicity of Speaker Harwell, Leader Gerald McCormick and Chairman Glen Casada,” Mancini said.
Mancini has asked for their resignations, as well.
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