Embattled DA Steve Bebb resigning early

Steve Bebb, the embattled district attorney for four Southeast Tennessee counties, has notified Gov. Bill Haslam’s office he will resign as of June 30, two months short of the end of his term, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

Though it could not be confirmed Friday, it’s widely expected that Haslam will name Steve Crump as interim DA. Crump defeated Bebb protege Stephen Hatchett in the May 6 Republican primary for the post and has no Democratic opposition in the Aug. 7 county election.

The position pays $120,000 per year.

Haslam spokesman David Smith confirmed that Bebb notified the governor’s office Friday. Blake Fontenay, spokesman for Secretary of State Tré Hargett, said Bebb has filed an application for retirement.

Bebb, 73, served three terms as Criminal Court judge in the 10th Judicial District from 1982 to 2006, when he ran for district attorney as a Democrat for DA and defeated Crump, a Republican.

While he was a popular and respected judge, Bebb’s tenure as district attorney was controversial.

A six-day Times Free Press series in August 2012 detailed allegations of financial and prosecutorial misconduct. The series alleged that Bebb used his authority to protect his friends and retaliate against those who stirred his wrath. It laid out evidence of misconduct by the 1oth Judicial Drug Task Force whose board Bebb chaired, and published records of Bebb improperly claiming taxpayer reimbursement for driving a state-owned vehicle, among other instances of impropriety.

The newspaper series sparked a series of investigations by the state attorney general’s office, the comptroller, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Board of Professional Responsibility and the state Legislature.

Although the attorney general found no prosecutable violations and the Board of Professional Responsibility, the disciplinary agency for attorneys, dismissed formal complaints filed by the state House speaker and others, a special House oversight committee recommended that Bebb be removed from office. A corresponding Senate panel took no action and the issue died when the Legislature adjourned this year.

Crump said Friday that Bebb had told him shortly after the election that he intended to leave office early.

“We really accelerated the transition,” Crump said. “I’ve been meeting regularly with Steve and his staff now for about three weeks.”