Jeremy Durham

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Jeremy Ryan Durham
Member of the Tennessee House of Representatives
from the 65th district
In office
January 2013 – September 13, 2016
Personal details
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jessica Durham
Residence Franklin, Tennessee, U.S.
Education University of Tennessee
University of Memphis Law School
Occupation Lawyer, politician

Jeremy Ryan Durham is an American politician. From January 2013 to September 2016 he served as the Republican member of the Tennessee House of Representatives for the 65th District, encompassing parts of Williamson County, Tennessee.[1][2] On April 1, 2016 he filed papers and announced his intention to run for re-election.[3] On July 13, 2016 a special committee of the Tennessee House of Representatives released a report that found Durham had had inappropriate "sexual interactions" with 22 women.[4][5] On July 14, 2016 Durham announced he was suspending his re-election campaign.[6] On September 13, 2016, Durham was expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives on a 70-2 vote.

Early years[edit]

Jeremy Durham was born in Jackson, Tennessee and grew up in Adamsville.[7] He graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 2006 and earned a J.D. from the University of Memphis Law School in 2008.[1] From 2009 to 2011 he served as chairman of the Tennessee Young Republican Federation and founded the Tennessee Young Republicans PAC, which raised nearly $25,000 for Republican candidates in Tennessee.[8] He was a partner in the law firm Hawkins, Durham & Associates from 2010 to 2012.[7]

Tennessee legislature[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Durham was a member of the Tennessee House Insurance and Banking Committee, the House Local Government Committee, and the House Local Government Subcommittee.[1] In December 2014, during the 109th General Assembly, he was elected House Majority Whip.[9]

Legislation[edit]

As of May 2016 Durham was the primary sponsor of 171 bills.[10]

Awards[edit]

Durham was named "Freshman of the Year, Republican" in 2014 by Tom Humphrey, the Nashville Bureau Chief and primary political correspondent for the Knoxville News Sentinel.[11][12] In January 2013 he was one of the first recipients of the American Conservative Union's Tennessee House “ACU Conservative” award.[13] As part of the Williamson County legislative delegation, he was awarded the 2015 ACU Award For Conservative Excellence, its highest award.[14][15]

Controversies[edit]

Durham wrote to a federal judge in 2014 seeking a more lenient sentence for Bedford County Baptist youth pastor Joseph Todd Neill who was convicted on federal charges of possessing child pornography (Neill had also pleaded guilty to two state counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, and as part of Neill’s federal plea deal, he admitted to initiating a sexual relationship on more than two occasions with a minor who was a member of the church where he was a youth minister). Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey called the move "poor judgment." [16]

Sexual harassment and expulsion[edit]

In January 2016, Durham was accused of sexually harassing three women (by text message) who worked at the legislature. When speaking to the media about the allegations, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate Ron Ramsey said, "Obviously, we don't want the press lynching anybody. But the press didn't force anyone to send text messages after midnight asking for pictures."[17] Durham resigned as House Majority Whip on January 24, 2016.[18] On January 27 House Speaker Beth Harwell said she agreed with Ramsey that Durham should be expelled from the state legislature.[19][20][21] Durham has said that he did not remember sending the texts. He told the Republican Caucus that he would seek "help", then clarified to the Williamson Herald, a newspaper in his district, that he meant he would speak to his doctor about finding ways to manage stress.[19]

On April 7, 2016, Speaker Harwell directed that his office be moved out of the Tennessee State House into a nearby building and there were restrictions placed on his access to state facilities. The Tennessee Attorney General had recommended that some action be taken as his preliminary investigation indicated Durham might pose a risk to "unsuspecting women."[22] On July 13, 2016, the Attorney General's special investigation found that Durham had sexually harassed at least 22 women.[4] On July 14, 2016 Durham announced he was suspending his re-election campaign.[6]

Since the AG report, both House Democrats and Republicans called for Durham's expulsion. While he had already lost the Primary for reelection and would not be in office for the next Legislative session, an expulsion would preclude him from drawing a state pension.[23] Governor Bill Haslam called an extraordinary session of the General Assembly to convene in September 2016. This session was to address DUI laws that would cost the state $60 million in federal funding if the state was not in compliance by October 1.[24] The expulsion of Durham was not included in the proclamation as Haslam said it was not the role of the administration to decide.[23] Speaker Beth Harwell commented that she would push for an expulsion motion during the session. Durham's attorney raised concerns over the constitutionality of an expulsion motion in an extraordinary session as it was outside the scope of the Governor's call. However, the Speaker and the House Clerk's office stated that an expulsion motion is procedural instead of legislative and that there is also precedent for the House passing Resolutions during an extraordinary session. Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada pointed to the 1866 extraordinary session where the General Assembly expelled six members following the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.[25] The expelled Members in 1866 were intentionally absent from the session in an attempt to stop the ratification through the lack of quorum.

On the second day of the extraordinary session, Representative Susan Lynn made the motion to expel Durham during the unfinished business portion of the agenda. Durham spoke from the well defending himself and criticized the lack of due process during the procedures. He also answered some questions from other Representatives during the debate before eventually leaving the Capitol abruptly.[26] A motion was made to force Durham to return to the Chambers to continue answering questions; however that motion failed. Durham was then expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives on September 13, 2016 with a vote of 70-2-16.[26] Most of the sixteen abstaining voters sided with Durham's criticism over the lack of due process.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Durham works as a small business attorney in Franklin, Tennessee.[1][7] He is married to Dr. Jessica Durham, an optometrist.[1][2] They reside in Franklin, Tennessee.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Representatives - TN General Assembly". Archived from the original on January 12, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Meet Jeremy Durham". jeremydurham4tn.com. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Jeremy Durham to run for re-election". Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  4. ^ a b "Lobbyists warned others that TN Rep. Durham "creepy"". Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  5. ^ Boucher, Dave; Ebert, Joel (July 13, 2016). "Jeremy Durham had sexual 'interactions' with 22 women, report says". tennessean.com. The Tennessean. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Ebert, Joel; Boucher, Dave (July 14, 2016). "Rep. Jeremy Durham suspends his campaign, doesn't resign". tennessean.com. The Tennessean. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c "Attorney Jeremy Durham, Franklin, Tennessee". attorneyjeremydurham.com. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  8. ^ Flagg, Craig (November 4, 2014). "Jeremy Durham retains District 65 seat". The Tennesseean. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  9. ^ "GOP nominates Harwell, Ramsey to keep leadership posts". The Tennessean. December 10, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Tennessee Bills". openstates.org. Sunlight Foundation. Retrieved May 5, 2016. 
  11. ^ Humphrey, Tom (May 3, 2014). "More superlative performances in the 2014 legislative session". Tom Humphrey's Humphrey On the Hill. Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  12. ^ "State Rep. Durham Named "Freshman Legislator Of The Year"". advertisernews.biz. The Advertiser News. May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  13. ^ "ACU Announces 2013 Ratings of the Tennessee General Assembly". conservative.org. American Conservative Union. January 23, 2014. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Williamson County Legislative Delegation awarded top conservative honors". The Williamson Herald. CMD Publishing. January 21, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Rep. Durham Named Top Conservative In Tennessee". jeremydurham4tn.com. January 21, 2016. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  16. ^ Cowan, Jill (December 11, 2015). "Ramsey: Durham letter in porn case showed 'poor judgment'". The Tennesseean. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  17. ^ Ramsey added, "The press didn't force somebody to have an affair with another state rep and force them to resign." "Rep. Jeremy Durham denies affair with House colleague who later quit". timesfreepress.com. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  18. ^ "Jeremy Durham confirms resignation as whip". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  19. ^ a b Boucher, Dave (January 27, 2016). "Speaker Harwell: Expel Durham from legislature". The Tennessean. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  20. ^ Sisk, Chas. "Lawmakers Turn Durham Investigation Over To Tennessee Attorney General". nashvillepublicradio.org. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  21. ^ "GOP Anti-Trans Rep Can't Stop Harassing Women Co-Workers". 
  22. ^ Ebert, Joel (April 8, 2016). "Jeremy Durham's office moved across street after AG probe". tennesseean.com. The Tennesseean. Retrieved July 14, 2016. 
  23. ^ a b Gervin, Cari Wade (8 September 2016). "Special Session Will Attempt to Oust Durham". Nashville Post. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  24. ^ "Haslam To Call Special Session To Prevent Loss of $60 Million in Federal Highway Funds". Tennessee State Government Newsroom. Tennessee State Government. 2 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  25. ^ Gervin, Cari Wade (12 September 2016). "Motion to Expel Durham Coming Tuesday". Nashville Post. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  26. ^ a b Ebert, Joel; Boucher, Dave (13 September 2016). "Jeremy Durham expelled from Tennessee House in 70-2 vote". The Tennessean. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  27. ^ Associated Press (13 September 2016). "The Latest: Tennessee governor lauds vote to oust lawmaker". Associated Press: The Big Story. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 

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