Tennessee Republican Scotty Campbell — one of the legislators who voted to expel the Tennessee Three — resigned from his House seat on Thursday after it became public that he sexually harassed a legislative intern.
Campbell — who was the vice chair of the House Republican Caucus — violated the legislature’s workplace discrimination and harassment policy, according to a three week old one-page Ethics Subcommittee report. The report did not provide details on the specifics of the violation and said no further information about the allegations would be released.
But on Thursday, Nashville TV station WTVF — which was first to report on the subcommittee’s findings — confronted the Republican lawmaker about sexual harassment allegations involving legislative interns.
Campbell declined to provide a detailed account but said, “I had consensual, adult conversations with two adults off property,” when asked about the ethics panel’s decision.
“If I choose to talk to any intern in the future, it will be recorded,” Campbell added.
About six hours after the reporter’s questions, the Republican lawmaker announced he would resign effective immediately in a letter to House legislators.
The subcommittee report — addressed to House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) and dated May 29 — also revealed Sexton knew about the violation but did nothing to reprimand Campbell.
“I can’t determine exactly when we saw it,” Sexton said of the panel’s report while speaking to reportersThursday. “But, the determination was the subcommittee. The speaker has no role in putting out any kind of corrective action. That comes from the subcommittee.”
The report was issued more than a week before Democratic Reps. Justin Jones of Nashville Justin Pearson of Memphis — two young Black men — were expelled from the state House by Republicans for participating in a protest against lax gun laws from the floor of the chamber on March 30.
During the protest — which took place in the wake of the Nashville school shooting that left six people dead — Jones, Pearson and Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville joined demonstrators, mostly children and teachers holding signs and chanting, who packed the Capitol building and the House gallery. Jones and Pearson also cheered on the protestors from the front of the House chamber with a bullhorn.
After the protest, state Republicans claimed Jones, Johnson and Pearson “did knowingly and intentionally bring disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives through their individual and collective actions.”
Jones and Pearson were expelled, while Johnson — an older white woman — survived the Republican-led attempt to oust the trio.
Since then both lawmakers have been appointed back to their seats as interim members. A special election will be held to fill Pearson and Jones’ seats permanently. Both are eligible to run for reelection but they will once again need to win an election to formally return to their seats for the rest of their two-year term.
Johnson called Campbell’s ethics violation “horrendous” in a tweet Thursday afternoon.
“Yet if you talk without permission, you get expulsion resolutions,” she added.