Tennessee Lawmakers Are So Creepy That Speaker Warns Interns To Stay Away

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January 28, 2016 12:55 pm
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Updated at 3:20 p.m.

Following the revelations that Tennessee state Rep. Jeremy Durham (R) sent late-night text messages to female staffers, state House Speaker Beth Harwell (R) told interns not attend legislature receptions or events and not to give their cell phone numbers to members of the legislature.

Durham on Sunday resigned from his position as majority whip, but did not step down from his seat in the legislature. His resignation followed a report in The Tennessean revealing that he had sent numerous messages to women asking for photos and to meet up, but Durham has denied sexually harassing anyone.

In a statement calling on Durham to step down, Harwell also said that the House would review its sexual harassment policy. In the meantime, she had a directive for the interns.

“As a precautionary measure, I have instructed the Director of the Internship program that interns are not to attend receptions or events related to the legislature, and they are not to give their cell phone numbers to members,” Harwell said on Monday, according to The Tennessean.

She also said that the House would form a committee to review the sexual harassment policy and that members would receive a new sexual harassment training.

“If any personnel have suggestions for improvement, I urge them to give the committee their recommendations. At the conclusion of this review, the members will go through sexual harassment training,” she said.

Rep. Mike Stewart (D), chair of the state House Democratic Caucus, told TPM on Thursday Harwell’s directive to interns was not the appropriate approach.

“Signaling out one group of women and asking them to change their behavior is a completely inadequate and inappropriate response to a problem with alleged behavior by a lawmaker,” he said.

Stewart called for the state House to create a bipartisan committee to investigate what Durham’s behavior and the Republican caucus’ response.

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