Some legislators unhappy over leaked bathroom emails

From a Tennessean story following up on last week’s report of email exchanges between House Republican Caucus members on whether to hold a special legislative session in response a federal directive on transgender bathroom use in schools:

An ongoing discussion about leaked emails between House Republican lawmakers has led one member to say whoever provided them to the media has betrayed their own party, another to suggest a colleague should “grow up” and a third to raise the possibility of asking the attorney general to look into the matter.

On Monday, Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, sent out an email to the House Republican Caucus asking “whoever released our email discussion of whether or not to hold a special session” to out themselves.

…Lynn rebuked the person who leaked the initial conversation. “Whoever did this – you know who you are – I implore you to act with more honor than that – to behave with Christian ethics,” she said. “I felt that I could trust each of you so I spoke freely and obviously so did others. I had no thought that one among us could not be trusted – but now you have let us know that we cannot trust you.”

Lynn, who sponsored and later withdrew legislation requiring students to use the restroom that corresponds with their sex at birth, said she knew more about the issue than other caucus members.

Explaining her decision to halt the measure, Lynn said she was simply trying to do what was “best for the children of our state…not for our campaigns … not for our fundraising … not for the possibilities of gaining more seats in the House … not for the press … but for the safety of our children.”

In an email sent on Wednesday morning, Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, said he agreed with Lynn and expressed disappointment about the leaked emails, even suggesting the use of the state’s public records laws to find out which emails were used to send out the initial correspondence.

Legislative officials believe that previous court rulings make state lawmakers exempt from the public records act and “internal records,” including emails, aren’t subject to disclosure.

“Possibly, we should ask the TN (Tennessee) Attorney General to offer assistance to determine how this conversation or email was sent to the media outlets,” Brooks said. “Just my thoughts. And possibly soon everyone else in TN will know them if this email is leaked too.”

…Replying to Lynn on Wednesday, Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, said any information that lawmakers issue — whether it is verbal or written — should be expected to be made public.

“You better have the courage to stand behind those comments, rather than whine about who released them,” Womick wrote. “If I am opposed to an individual’s position and that individual is foolish enough to put it in writing, then they should expect it to be used against them.”

“Time to grow up and accept responsibility for loose lips … can’t handle that then maybe time to leave the political arena,” Womick concluded. “People are fed up with whining, insincere politicians.”

When The Tennessean contacted Lynn on Wednesday morning to discuss the leaked emails, she simply said she was “shocked that the email about the leaked emails was also leaked.”