State Rep. Jeremy Durham sent an eight-page letter to House colleagues Monday that defends himself, attacks the women who accused him of sexual misconduct and blasts House leadership for handling the investigation, reports The Tennessean.
Durham threatens in the letter to release a document that would name the 22 women who accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct and show text messages that he says could prove his innocence.
(Note: Text of the letter is HERE, as posted by Nashville Post Politics.)
The women spoke to the attorney general on the condition of anonymity, afraid there could be negative personal and professional ramifications if they were identified.
Durham, 32, faces an ouster vote this week as lawmakers meet in Nashville for a special legislative session.
“This type of unbridled authority is dangerous,” he said while discussing the “dangerous precedent” it sets for expelling a member based on an attorney general’s report.
“Due to the way this situation has been handled, my family finds itself in the position of wanting to largely clear my name by releasing names and text messages of many Jane Does while also wanting to not make the situation a bigger circus than it has already become,” Durham writes in the letter.
“I’ve prepared a document responding to each and every Jane Doe — with names — and with text messages stored on a cloud. But that process should be handled according to House rules — not in a public expulsion proceeding.”
…Durham says “zero of the 22 Jane Does remotely fit any definition of sexual harassment.” He argues that sending a text that says “what’s up” or “offering a simple verbal compliment can hardly be considered inappropriate conduct.”
Further, from the Nashville Post report:
He further contends that since the last person who was expelled from the House, Rep. Robert Fisher in 1980, was convicted of bribery and he has not been charged with such, moving to expel him “creates a glaring contrast in comparison.”
Durham calls the allegations of campaign finance misdoings — currently under investigation by the state — “premature” and “erroneous.” He then says the House’s own sexual harassment policies weren’t followed, that his expulsion would be unconstitutional, and that the Ad Hoc Select Committee that ordered the AG’s investigation into his behavior was also unconstitutional.
“And let’s be a clear, a vote for expulsion is a vote to overturn an election,” Durham writes. “Undoing the votes of 74% of district 65 [sic] is hardly a procedural matter, but serious legislative business.”
Durham goes on to claim that the AG never gave him a chance to tell his side of the story until the report was released to the public. And then he denies all claims of sexual misconduct and harassment.
…”The statement that I’m accused of ‘inappropriate sexual contact’ with 22 women is bogus,” Durham writes. “Also false is the notion that I ‘sexually harassed’ 22 women. That statement is simply not supported by facts, and several Jane Does do not work anywhere remotely near the Capitol.”
Durham continues, “Even if you choose to believe literally every word of anonymous hearsay contained in the Attorney General report … you could only claim that I’m accused of having consensual ‘sexual contact’ with one individual who did not even work in or around the Capitol, making it irrelevant to the investigation.
…Durham then accuses several of the Jane Doe lobbyists as having “a clear motive to see me removed from office.”
The legislator says that neither House Speaker Beth Harwell nor Majority Leader Gerald McCormick ever approached him about conduct issues, although McCormick did call him to ask him about people saying “you can’t keep your f****** d*** in your pants.”