Some cautious commentary has been offered by House Speaker Beth Harwell and State Republican Chairman Ryan Haynes on a grand jury decision against indicting state Rep. Jeremy Durham, reports The Tennessean.
Seems arch-conservative Republican Durham had also had Democrat Glenn Funk, then a lawyer in private practice and now Nashville’s district attorney general, consulting with him while under investigation in the matter.
“Although I have not reviewed the documents from the Drug Task Force investigation, I in no way defend any unlawful activity by a member, and take it very seriously,” Harwell said Thursday in a statement to The Tennessean.
Haynes echoed Harwell’s comments in a statement Thursday to The Tennessean.
“Any allegation of illegal activity against an elected official is always a serious matter,” Haynes said. “Republicans have led the way in cleaning up the legislature and voters expect that to continue.”
…Before he became the Davidson County district attorney in September 2014, Glenn Funk served as a private defense attorney. On Thursday, he confirmed he worked with Durham on this case.
“I can say I think the Williamson County Grand Jury made the right decision,” Funk said Thursday morning.
But, he added, “I can say this office will prosecute anybody that doesn’t have a valid prescription, and doesn’t have a valid prescription for the date they have it filled.”
Funk, a Democrat, said he did not appear before the grand jury and never made a court appearance in the case because Durham was not indicted. He declined to speak about the specifics of the case, but talked generally about his involvement.
“(Durham) conferred with me prior to the case being presented to the grand jury, and I would have represented him if the grand jury had indicted him,” Funk said.
…“(Durham) conferred with me prior to the case being presented to the grand jury, and I would have represented him if the grand jury had indicted him,” Funk said.
Other legislators were supportive of Durham.
“I have a great deal of respect for all of our law enforcement agencies across the state. It is always troubling when there is a recommendation to indict a member of the Tennessee General Assembly, but it is important to remember that the grand jury chose not to return an indictment in this matter,” (House Majority Leader Gerald) McCormick said late Wednesday through a spokesman.
“I’m confident that Representative Durham will give a public report to clear up any outstanding questions about this matter without delay.”
… (House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen) Casada said he considers the case closed.
“Of course, the relevance of legislators obeying the law is always an important issue, especially as we experience a member of House Democratic leadership currently under federal indictment,” Casada said.
Casada referenced the ongoing indictment and investigation into Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, on federal fraud and tax evasion charges. Armstrong has denied wrongdoing.