Durham eyes lawsuit against the state over ouster

A day after his expulsion from the Tennessee Legislature, former state Rep. Jeremy Durham is telling Nashville television stations that plans a lawsuit against the state over the ouster.

Durham told News 2 (WKRN) Wednesday he is likely to file suit against the State of Tennessee out of principle. He couldn’t elaborate on how much he’s seeking in damages… While Durham has admitted to being too flirtatious at times, he insists he never harassed or was inappropriate with anyone during his time in office.

“A lot of the allegations though, if you look at what they’re saying, most of it is like ‘He asked me to get a beer.’ That’s most of the allegations,” said Durham. “If getting a beer is all it takes, then we need to expel a lot of the General Assembly, not just me.”

Durham claims the attorney general’s findings – that he had sex with a woman in his Capitol Hill office – are “completely untrue.”

And he also says his expulsion from the legislature during the special-called session was unconstitutional.

“I think everyone in there who voted realized that they voted on rules, those rules weren’t followed,” Durham told News 2. “I was entitled to a hearing and I didn’t get it. And Speaker Harwell still gets to gavel me out.”

Further from WTVF-TV:
The one time rising Republican star has never shied from the spotlight and Wednesday was no different, granting on-camera interviews to multiple news outlets in Nashville, including NewsChannel 5.

When NewsChannel 5’s Chris Conte asked him, “Do you think in this special session they should’ve been able to expel you?” he responded, “No I think it’s unconstitutional.”
… “There is definitely a party atmosphere (at the Capitol). Most of us have been in the Speaker’s conference room before and had alcohol” he said.

Durham also denied a story revealed in the state Attorney General’s report detailing a story in which one women says he had the nickname “Pants Candy.”

“I’ve never heard it in my life and none of my friends have heard it,” he said.

From his home in Franklin, the 32-year-old stood firmly by his believe that because no formal complaint was ever filed he shouldn’t have been expelled. Durham also blasted Speaker Beth Harwell for allowing the motion to expel him to come forward during a special session called by Governor Haslam to deal with federal highway funds the state was in jeopardy of losing.

“My issue is with leadership and the due process, what these folks have said about me has nothing to do with highway money,” Durham said.

“The House majority leader called me a sexual predator on the floor, we have a rule about personally attacking other members but it’s just a trend they don’t follow the rules,” he added.

History will remember him as the first person to be kicked out of the House since 1980 but Durham said he has contemplated suing the state over his expulsion.

“It’s like I was the flavor of the week and they were gonna pick on me,” Durham said.

“The hardest part has been seeing my friends tell me one thing and do another, that’s been hard,” he continued.

Durham described a culture of misbehavior on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill, from daily happy hours to smoking marijuana. Durham added he will most likely sue the state over his expulsion for what he called “denial of due process” and lawmakers breaking their own rules.

…Durham said it took nerve to do what he did Tuesday and that he has fought a good fight.

“When they spiked the football and tried to do the expulsion session and tie it to the highway funding special session, that was when I pretty much had enough,” he said.

Durham said he never intended to reveal the names of alleged victims on Tuesday, even though he had a black binder full of information in his hand.

He described what was in the binder.

“That was text messages from some of these supposed victims,” Durham said. “Now I want to be very clear, some of the things I’m happy to own, but haven’t necessarily had the chance to do it.”

While Durham didn’t call out any accusers by name, that didn’t stop him from making allegations of his own.

He said the legislature has a party atmosphere with daily happy hours that no one tries hard to hide. He also said at least one lawmaker told him to his face that he smoked marijuana in his office.

Durham said the continuing federal probe into his campaign finances will uncover nothing but prudent efforts at investment.

While Durham may have left the legislature, he has already put his “lawyer hat” back on. He insists the body broke its own rules and perhaps violated the constitution

“I’m not even saying I should get to cross-examine witnesses,” Durham said.

“The legislature is not a court,” Channel 4’s Demetria Kalodimos said.

“I understand that, but that doesn’t mean that we have to completely ignore basic fairness and principle that you might find in a court. I agree with that, it’s not really wired the same way, but we all have a sense of fairness and a sense of justice, and I just don’t believe that that occurred,” Durham said.