Democrats call for blocking Durham pension

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — House Democrats in Tennessee are calling for a special session to expel a Republican lawmaker accused of sexually harassing at least 22 women to block him from receiving a lifetime pension.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart said Wednesday that state Rep. Jeremy Durham of Franklin will automatically qualify for a pension starting at $300 per month in November, even if he loses his primary next month.

Durham suspended his re-election campaign earlier this month after a state attorney general’s office released a report alleging that he had sexually harassed at least 22 women.

The lawmaker has said nearly all of the allegations are either false or taken out of context, but stopped short of resigning his seat. Early voting is already underway, and Durham’s name remains on the ballot.

Note: Press release below.

NASHVILLE—Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart today called for the Speaker of the House to convene a special session for expulsion hearings for Rep. Jeremy Durham.

Last week, an Attorney General investigation into sexual harassment claims against Durham found grounds for expulsion.

In a press conference today, Rep. Stewart (D-Nashville) said “if Durham remains in office until November, then he will be able to collect a monthly pension of more than $300 a month, that’s more than many Tennesseans pay in rent for a month.

“Why should we force taxpayers, including many victims identified by the Attorney General, to foot the bill for a pension for Rep. Durham’s bad behavior? Speaker Harwell needs to call for a special session right now to keep the victims from being victimized again by supporting his retirement.”

The Attorney General’s report released last week found 22 victims of sexual harassment by Durham. Durham suspended his campaign for re-election after the report, but according to state documents, could still be eligible for a pension unless he is expelled before the November election.