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VOL. 40 | NO. 39 | Friday, September 23, 2016

House speaker chides angry lawmaker for claim of bad conduct

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NASHVILLE (AP) - A complaint filed against the House clerk is being brought by a lame-duck lawmaker who is angry about the chamber's expulsion of fellow Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham over a series of sexual harassment allegations, House Speaker Beth Harwell said Wednesday.

Rep. Billy Spivey of Lewisburg, who abruptly decided against seeking re-election this spring, is calling for an investigation into Clerk Joe McCord for allegedly calling a staffer obscene names and making a lewd gesture toward her 2-year-old granddaughter while she was visiting the speaker's office two years ago.

Harwell in a statement noted that Spivey had opposed the public release of a state attorney general's report detailing allegations that Durham sexually harassed at least 22 women during his four years in office. Spivey also didn't attend a recent special legislative session this month in which Durham became the first sitting member expelled from the chamber in 36 years.

"Just as Durham lashed out last week at those who expelled him, his supporters - including Rep. Spivey - are doing the same this week," said Harwell, R-Nashville.

Spivey's letter contains an anonymous account of the allegations about McCord and says legislative employees live in "constant fear of being fired and retaliation from those in leadership."

Spivey's complaint will be taken up by the office of legislative administration, Harwell said.

"It is irresponsible for Rep. Spivey to involve himself in something without verifying the facts and in harassing our employees by releasing an inaccurate compilation of events," she said. "It is disrespectful for him to attempt to play political football with our state employees and their jobs, all because he personally disagreed with Jeremy Durham's expulsion."

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