Rep. Spivey calls for end to ‘political witch hunt’ (Durham investigation)

A state lawmaker serving on a four-member committee that initiated the investigation into Rep. Jeremy Durham is suggesting the probe “reeks of a political witch hunt” and should end immediately, reports The Tennessean.

Rep. Billy Spivey, R-Lewisburg, sent a strongly worded letter Wednesday to committee chairman Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, calling for the committee to be dissolved, with Spivey saying he believed the investigation had gone beyond the scope of what the special committee had authorized.

In an interview with The Tennessean, Spivey said he had several concerns, including recently learning that Attorney General Herbert Slatery handed over findings related to Durham’s campaign finances to the state registry of election finance board. Last week, that board authorized an audit, investigation and the issuance of subpoenas after a former employee of Durham’s suggested the embattled lawmaker transferred campaign funds to his private company.

“The radically increased depth and breadth of this investigation is disconcerting, to say the least, and reeks of a political witch hunt being undertaken,” Spivey wrote.

“It’s become painfully easy to see this Committee’s likely use as a cover for the sort of political maneuvers, that, frankly, make be both ill and quite angry.”

In addition, Spivey said he believed that when the legislature adjourned on April 22, the General Assembly effectively ended thus halting “any opportunity for the proper procedural removal” of Durham.

The issue of whether the investigation was able to continue after the legislature adjourned for the year was clarified on the final day of the session, when Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, asked House Clerk Joe McCord what effect the resolution had on the Durham probe.

McCord read the sine die resolution, which said, “Be it further resolved, that any standing, special, select or ad hoc committee of the General Assembly may meet after adjournment for the purpose of considering or investigating any matter of state business within the scope of the committee’s authority and direct any necessary reports to the next General Assembly or any committee of the next General Assembly.”

Note: Spivey is not seeking reelection to the Legislature.