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Sponsor of Bill to Elect Tennessee Attorney General Calls For Investigation of an Investigation

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mount Juliet), the sponsor of a resolution that would allow the voters of Tennessee to elect the state’s Attorney General, is calling for an investigation into the Tennessee Attorney General’s investigation into the conduct of State Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin).

Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) requested “the Attorney General [Herbert Slatery] to commence an independent investigation into the facts surrounding Representative Jeremy Durham’s ongoing situation,” on January 28. Days earlier, the Tennessean reported that Durham had sent inappropriate text messages to three anonymous women.

On April 6 Attorney General’s office issued an interim report on the findings of the investigation so far to the Ad Hoc Committee of the House that was formed subsequent to Harwell’s initial request, which said, in part:

Information obtained during the investigation reveals a pattern of conduct by Representative Durham directed toward a number of women who either currently work for, or formerly worked with, the Legislature.

Some of the women interviewed stated Representative Durham’s behavior created an environment which has made them uncomfortable in the work place.

“There have been rumors on Capitol Hill for the 22 years I’ve been there about affairs and sexual harassment,” Beavers tells Breitbart News.

“Why now is the Attorney General investigating these particular rumors about one specific legislator?” she asks.

As Breitbart News reported previously:

Several of those interviewed in the probe tell Breitbart News that investigators have merely asked cursory questions about Durham, then have begun to probe about the conduct of other legislators and women who have had any professional or personal contact with either Durham or other legislators…

“The takeaway for me was, my God, I’m only here to talk about other people,” the first individual adds.

“They were on a fishing expedition. They didn’t have anything,” is how a second person who was interviewed by investigators from the Attorney General’s office describes the experience to Breitbart News.

“It has the appearance they were expanding the scope of the inquiry beyond Jeremy Durham to other state legislators. That’s a frightening thought. Somebody’s gathering information for future use,” the second person tells Breitbart News.

“If the Attorney General’s office and the Speaker have engaged in collecting and documenting ‘gossip and rumors’ about legislators and staffers as an expanded part of the Ad Hoc investigation into Rep. Jeremy Durham, then there should be an immediate and full investigation into what was asked, who was questioned, what has been compiled, what communications have taken place between the Speaker and the Attorney General during the investigation, and for what purpose,” Beavers tells Breitbart News.

“The mere appearance that this investigation has evolved into collecting dirt on political rivals and enemies is outrageous and unacceptable,” Beavers adds.

“The fact that it even ‘might’ be happening underlines why we need an independent, elected Attorney General who answers to the people of Tennessee rather than the Capitol Hill political insiders,” she continues.

Beaver’s Senate Joint Resolution 63 that called for the popular election for the Tennessee Attorney General passed the Senate by a 23 to 9 vote in the recently adjourned 109th session of the Tennessee General Assembly, but died in the House Civil Justice Committee. John Lundberg (R-Bristol) serves as the committee’s chairman and Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) is vice chairman.

As the Tennessean reported, “Tennessee is the only state where the attorney general is selected by, and reports to, the justices of the Supreme Court. The vast majority of states, 43, elect their attorneys general; in five states the AG is appointed by the governor; and the Maine Legislature elects the attorney general.”

“What’s happening in this current investigation by the Attorney General goes a long way to my argument we need an elected Attorney General who is not connected to the politicos on Capitol Hill,” Beavers says.

“I intend to again pursue legislation to allow for a popularly elected Attorney General next session, and I hope that this sort of political intrigue in the Attorney General’s office will provide the basis for more of my colleagues to support it,” Beavers concludes.

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