Harwell, Ramsey: Durham should be expelled

House Speaker Beth Harwell, with support from Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, is looking into expelling embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham from the Tennessee legislature, reports The Tennessean.

In a statement late Wednesday, Harwell said it is time Durham be removed from the House of Representatives.

“I agree with the Lt. Governor that Rep. Durham should be removed from this body. I have attorneys reviewing the proper procedure to do so,” Harwell said in a statement to The Tennessean.

“Myself, the Majority Leader, and the Speaker Pro Tempore have talked with Rep. Durham encouraging him to resign as he enters treatment.”

Harwell is referring to House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey also discussed removing Durham from the House on Wednesday.

“I think the (chamber) needs to vote to remove him from the house. …That’s the next step if he refuses to do it,” Ramsey told reporters.

“It’s only going to get worse. They need to work to bring an end to it.”

Further from Nashville Post Politics:

The controversy over the 32-year-old second-term legislator’s alleged sexual harassment of three women who worked in or around the capitol is making all legislators look bad and House Speaker Beth Harwell needs to “take charge of the situation,” he said Wednesday afternoon after Durham said he would part ways with the House Republican Caucus in light of the controversy but affirmed on talk radio he would not step down.

“It’s a huge distraction that needs to go away,” he said. “I think we need to take a next step. I’ve talked to Beth about this and she needs to be very assertive on this, take charge of the situation, because it’s not going to get any better. It’s only going to get worse.”

Ramsey pointed to the Tennessee Constitution, which reads:

“Each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for the same offence [sic], and shall have all other powers necessary for a branch of the Legislature of a free state.”

…According to the House clerk, expelling a member takes several steps. Past precedent calls for charges to be brought against the lawmaker in order to begin the process. In past cases, a committee was formed to review facts and testimony, then recommend to the full body whether to expel — which would take a two-thirds vote of the 99-member chamber.

The apparent problem is what charges the body would use to oust him, should it choose to. So far, evidence against Durham is limited to three unnamed women who told their stories of sexual harassment to The Tennessean but have yet to file a formal complaint for fear of reprisal.