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Tennessee state GOP lawmaker resigns over ethics complaint

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A state lawmaker in Tennessee abruptly resigned Thursday for a public ethics violation, two weeks after joining fellow Republicans in driving Two black Democratic legislators protest in support of gun control on the floor of the State House.

Rep. Scotty Campbell, vice chairman of the House Republican Caucus, violated the Legislature’s workplace discrimination and harassment policy. The document containing the brief ethics subcommittee findings from late March did not provide details and said no further information would be released.

Campbell’s resignation came hours after Nashville CBS affiliate WTVF-TV faced him Regarding allegations of sexual harassment involving a legislative intern.

Campbell declined to provide details of what happened. Asked Thursday by WTVF-TV about the ethics panel’s decision, Campbell said, “I had a consensual, adult conversation with two adults outside the property.”

Campbell said, “If I choose to speak to an intern in the future, it will be recorded.”

The Mountain City legislator issued his resignation, effective immediately, according to a letter to fellow legislators, about six hours after the broadcaster questioned him.

The letter read, “I resign from the Tennessee House of Representatives. Effective immediately.”

WTVF-TV first reported on the finding by the Ethics Subcommittee, which released its decision on March 29 in a document addressed to Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

“I can’t tell exactly when we saw it (the letter),” Sexton told reporters on Thursday. “But, the determination was the subcommittee. The speaker has no role in taking any kind of corrective action. It comes from the subcommittee.”

Campbell remained in office after the ethics finding, and on April 6 voted to expel Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson. they have since Restored. Campbell also voted to expel Democratic Rep. Gloria Johnson, who was saved from expulsion by one vote.

Jones, Pearson and Johnson The March 30 protest in front of the House floor was targeted for expulsion in which hundreds of protesters packed the Capitol to pass gun control measures.

Johnson called Campbell’s ethics breach “appalling” in a tweet Thursday afternoon.

“Yet if you speak without permission, you get eviction offers,” she said.

Campbell’s departure comes in the waning hours of a months-long legislative session. GOP legislative leaders are trying to wrap up their work by the end of the week.

In 2019, lawmakers were under pressure to expel former Republican Representative David Byrd after he faced allegations of sexual misconduct from his time as a high school basketball coach three decades earlier.

At the time, Sexton said it was up to Byrd to decide whether he should remain in the Legislature. Byrd has decided not to seek re-election in 2022.

Meanwhile, former Democratic Representative Rick Staples of Knoxville resigned from the leadership position in 2019 after the same ethics panel found he had violated the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy.

Often, expungement is centered on a criminal conviction. Tennessee’s state law and constitution disqualify convicted felons from holding public office.

State lawmakers last ousted a House member in 2016 when the chamber voted 70-2 to remove Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham after an investigation by Attorney General detailed allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with at least 22 women during his four years in office.

In 2017, a Republican House lawmaker resigned while facing allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with a woman at a legislative event. Before he gets down, then-Rep. Mark Lovell denied the allegations. Instead, he stated that the elected position was more demanding than he expected and that he needed time for his professional interests and family.

Meanwhile, former Republican Rep. Glenn Casada became speaker in 2019 and resigned after months on the job amid revelations that he and his then chief of staff had exchanged sexually explicit text messages about women years earlier. But he remained in his seat and won re-election as an MP in 2020, then did not seek re-election in 2022. The former chief of staff lost his legislative job in a texting scandal.

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