Tennessee Republican Resigns After Being Caught Sexually Harassing Interns
Tennessee state Rep. Scotty Campbell resigned on Thursday after it was revealed that the state’s House Ethics Committee had secretly convicted him of sexually harassing at least one legislative intern, a violation of the chamber’s rules. Campbell’s resignation comes on the heels of his vote to expel three of his Democratic colleagues for protesting gun violence on the House floor.
Campbell was found to have violated the chamber’s policy on workplace discrimination and harassment in March. The outcome of the investigation was largely buried from public view. Campbell was a member of GOP leadership, serving as the vice chair of the Republican House Caucus.
Despite the committee claiming it has a no-tolerance policy towards harassment, the consequences against Campbell were negligible. According to NewsChannel 5 Nashville, which first reported the allegations on Thursday, a memorandum was covertly placed in his personnel file. Upon discovery, the House’s administrators claimed confidentiality policies prevent them from releasing more information about the case. He remained an active member of the legislature and used his position to punish other representatives for much less severe infractions.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton confirmed hours later that he had received and accepted Campbell’s resignation.
NewsChannel 5 found that multiple women working as interns in the House accused Campbell of making inappropriate, sexual comments and advancements towards them, and that the government potentially spent thousands of dollars helping relocate one woman from the apartment complex where the representative also resided.
One woman, a student at a local university, provided details of her experience with Cambell in an email to university administrations. After spotting her and a 19-year-old friend entering an apartment building, Campbell later told her that “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.”
In a later encounter, the woman alleged that Campbell had asked her how many men and women she had had sexual relations with, offered her weed in exchange for a viewing of her piercings and tattoos, and went so far as to grab her neck after repeatedly asking her “for several hugs.”
“I had consensual, adult conversations with two adults off-property,” Cambell claimed when confronted by NewsChannel 5 on Thursday. “I think conversations are consensual once that is verbally agreed to. If I choose to talk to any intern in the future, it will be recorded.” The woman accused him white in her email that she had been informed that Cambell “admitted fully to his guilt.”
Earlier this month while debating the expulsion of the three Democratic representatives who had protested gun violence on the House floor, Campbell spoke in favor of punishment. “If you were in court and behaved like those three did, you would have been found in contempt of court.”
The trio of lawmakers had approached the podium to deliver remarks without being recognized by the chair, a violation of the House rules typically punished by an official reprimand, in response to a mass shooting at a Nashville elementary school.
The chamber’s Republican supermajority expelled Pearson and Jones from office. Both were reinstated within days. Prior to his brief expulsion, Rep. Jones delivered a speech on the House floor in which he called out Republicans’ breaches of conduct, and the double standard being leveled against him and his Democratic colleagues.
“For years, one of your colleagues, who was an admitted child molester, sat in this chamber — no expulsion. One member sits in this chamber who was found guilty of domestic violence — no expulsion. … We have a member currently under federal investigation — no expulsion. We had a member pee in another member’s chair in this chamber — no expulsion. In fact, they’re in leadership in the governor’s administration,” Jones said.
The revelations about Campbell’s conduct underscore the self-serving politics of Tennessee’s Republican-controlled House, where protesting the death of children could have you expelled from office, but allegations of sexually harassing interns are easily buried from public view.
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