GOP chief , Harwell call for Durham to resign House seat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes is calling on state Rep. Jeremy Durham to resign from his seat in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell on Monday agreed that it would be in Durham’s “best interest” to step down following reports that the lawmaker sent inappropriate text messages to women working at the Legislature.

Durham announced Sunday he would resign from his position as House majority whip, but that he would keep his seat and aggressively seek re-election this fall. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Monday.

Durham has been in the spotlight since it was revealed that prosecutors in 2014 sought prescription fraud charges against the lawmaker, though a grand jury declined to indict him.

Note: See also the Times-Free Press, quoting House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick:

Speaking with the Times Free Press later Monday, McCormick said he had heard “rumors and accusations.”

“No proof. I actually had had two people come to me and say they had problems with him,” he said. “I encouraged them to immediately go to Legal [division] and to begin a process to complain about it. And neither wanted to do it.”

He said he later followed up and told both women “they would be surprised at how many members would stand up with them if they did make a formal complaint. But they didn’t want to do a formal complaint.”

McCormick said while they didn’t say it outright, he believes they feared the information would become public.