After more than an hour debating, members of the Tennessee General Assembly on Tuesday voted 70-2 to expel Representative Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin).
Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) and Representative Courtney Rogers (R-Goodlettsville) voted against expelling Durham. More than 20 legislators abstained from voting or were not present.
Durham, accused in an Attorney General's report of sexually harassing at least 22 women, attempted to make a case against his expulsion arguing that the vote was tantamount to an unfair trial. Durham claimed he did not get a chance to present evidence to defend himself.
Representative Weaver told WJLE Wednesday morning that she voted against expelling Durham because he was denied due process. “Yesterday’s vote was a very important one. I believe in procedures. I believe those are paramount. Those procedures of due process, in other words, innocent before guilty, are precious procedures to be afforded by everyone even if some are bad actors. I’m sure there were shenanigans but still there was no due process presented to me. The vote was very difficult for me to make. But I was sent there (state legislature) to be your voice. There was no room to be on the fence on this (abstain from voting). After yesterday’s vote what is concerning to me is that any member of the General Assembly can be expelled based on rumors or hearsay and that puts justice and due process on a very slippery slope. I defended the process of law for all and I would do it again. I want to thank the people of District 40 for your confidence in me. I was sent there (legislature) to be courageous and to vote the right way and I believe I did that,” she said.
Representative Weaver has come under fire from her political opponent in the November Election, Gayla Hendrix for this vote.
In a prepared news release, Hendrix said Weaver abandoned her beliefs on morality in support of a sexual predator and her vote would have allowed him to receive his taxpayer funded pension. “Disturbingly, Representative Weaver was one of two legislators who voted to allow him (Durham) to complete his term and receive his pension, even in light of all the allegations. She voted to excuse his sexual aggression and enable his unacceptable behavior, his mistreatment of others, and his repeated breaches of sworn duty as a Tennessee lawmaker,” said Hendrix.
“Terri Lynn talks a good line about strong morals and family values, but where were those morals and values earlier today when she stood with a sexual predator instead of the overwhelming and bipartisan majority of her peers in the Tennessee House of Representatives and voters across the state?”
“Terri Lynn’s support of Jeremy Durham is detestable, sickening, and a slap in the face of everyone who has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Her vote to allow him to remain in the legislature and collect a lifetime pension is evidence of her willingness to be fiscally careless with Tennessee tax dollars. As a former domestic violence prosecutor, I know first-hand the kind of trauma the 22 women in the report experienced. Her insensitivity to these women - the threats and intimidation they experienced - is proof that she has neither the moral conviction nor the strength of character the voters of District 40 deserve from our elected representative,” said Hendrix.
Tuesday marked only the third time a legislator has been kicked out of Tennessee's statehouse. Previous expulsions happened in 1866 and 1980.