When Tennessee Republicans chose to expel two of three Democratic lawmakers from the state House for protesting House Republicans’ inability to pass gun safety legislation, the transparent racism of ousting the two Black representatives but not the white representative was simply the tip of the iceberg. And considering Tennessee Republicans’ very recent history, the obvious racism was not surprising.
On Thursday, News Channel 5 in Nashville got their hands on a story, and boy did it lay bare the abject wasteland that is the Republican Party’s integrity. It turns out that state Rep. Scotty Campbell, who voted to expel all three Democratic members, was recently found “guilty of sexually harassing at least one legislative intern, likely two, by an ethics subcommittee acting in secret.” Six hours after being confronted about it, Campbell resigned.
But before News Channel 5 got its hands on the story, Republican leaders in the Tennessee House knew about it and seemed to be just fine with doing absolutely nothing.
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A bipartisan ethics subcommittee made up of two Democrats and two Republicans investigated allegations made against Campbell, the vice chair of the House Republican Caucus, and sent its findings to Republican Speaker (and dubious homeowner) Cameron Sexton. That was almost one month ago.
News Channel 5 reports that they were able to get a detailed explanation from one of the former interns, who described extremely vulgar and uncomfortable activity on the part of the 36-year-old Campbell.
For example, after seeing her and another 19-year-old female intern entering her apartment at the nearby Capitol Towers, the woman describes how Campbell later "made comments about how ... he was in his apartment imagining that we were performing sexual acts on one another and how it drove him crazy knowing that was happening so close to him."
"I uncomfortably explained that that was not happening," she recounts, "and he insisted that he knew it was and asked me to tell him about it.”
Campbell is also alleged to have grabbed an intern by the neck after trying to get her to show him a tattoo in exchange for cannabis gummies, and doled out enough general harassment that it seems the fiscally conservative Tennessee Republican has potentially cost his state’s taxpayers quite a bit of money behind the scenes.
NewsChannel 5 has learned that potentially thousands of dollars have been spent to protect one victim, relocating her from the downtown apartment building where she and Campbell both had apartments, shipping her furniture back home in another part of the state and placing her in a downtown hotel for the remainder of her internship.
When the investigative reporter tried to get further details, they were told by Connie Ridley, director of legislative administration for the General Assembly, that "No information concerning a complaint, investigation, lawsuit or the implementation of corrective action will be released to anyone not directly involved in such a matter.”
Republican Speaker Sexton and his GOP brethren did not take away Campbell’s leadership positions—plural. They didn’t wring their hands about decorum and publicly whine about it, or vote to kick Campbell out, as he did when voting to expel gun safety legislation supporters.
The Republican Party’s general hypocrisy has a very pure quality to it. There is not a single thing they decry, or admonish, or fearmonger, or punish that they aren’t themselves actively guilty of. Whether it is pretending that Donald Trump being indicted for breaking the law is unjustified or Justice Clarence Thomas being millions of dollars in the pocket of a billionaire is just fine, the conservative leaders in our country have yet to find corruption that they believe they are not above.
America could learn a lot from how other countries elect their leaders! Political science professor Matthew Shugart joins us on this week's episode of The Downballot to explain how a variety of electoral systems around the world operate, as well as his thoughts on which might work well here—and actually improve our democracy. Shugart gets into the weeds on proportional voting, single transferable vote, "decoy lists," and much more. If those terms are new to you, you'll definitely want to listen!
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