Womick files ethics complaints against Harwell

State Rep. Rick Womick has filed five separate ethics complaints against House Speaker Beth Harwell related to her handling of the investigation into Rep. Jeremy Durham, reports Nashville Post Politics.

Womick’s first complaint alleges Harwell began an investigation into Durham based solely on media reports, in the absence of a formal complaint from anyone. The second ethics complaint says Harwell’s decision to move Durham from his Legislative Plaza office and limit his access to the Capitol was in direction violation of the state constitution because “only by a vote of the full House can a member of the Tennessee General Assembly be punished.”

The third complaint says Harwell’s creation of the Ad Hoc Select Committee, which authorized the attorney general’s investigation into Durham, was appointed unconstitutionally. But Womick’s fourth complaint alleges that Harwell illegally asked the AG’s office to start an investigation before the Ad Hoc Select Committee existed. The final complaint questions the constitutionality of the expulsion process as Harwell has directed it through the special session.

Rep. Steve McDaniel, the chair of the House Ethics Committee, said he hadn’t had time to read the complaints yet, but legal counsel was reviewing them.

“If [the complaints are procedurally] found to be compliant according to rules, we will have a meeting of the Ethics Committee in the next day or two and decide if they rise to the level of action,” McDaniel said.