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Durham Threatens To Reveal His Accusers If He's Expelled From Tennessee Legislature

TN Photo Services

Tennessee lawmakers say they'll finally vote Tuesday on a motion to expel state Representative Jeremy Durham.

The Franklin Republican says he doesn't plan to be there, but he's prepared to name names if he's ousted.

Instead, Durham wrote an eight-page letter to his House colleagues, explaining why he won't show up. He says he's being denied due process by not getting a trial or an opportunity to face his accusers.

Some lawmakers — Democratic and Republican — say Durham may have a point.

Their hesitation leaves House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick red-faced with anger. He says he confronted Durham about his behavior long ago and has done everything he could to force him out of the legislature.

"We're trying to get rid of this guy. That's all we want to do. Get rid of him, flush him out of the system where he won't harass people any more."

McCormick, R-Chattanooga, referred to Durham repeatedly as a "sexual predator." He says Democrats are trying to politicize Durham's expulsion by questioning how the final vote has come about.

A second lawmaker, Knoxville Democrat Joe Armstrong, also faced the risk of expulsion during the special session, after being convicted last month of filing a false tax return. But Armstrong voluntarily resigned on Friday.

In his letter, Durham denies the claim that he misused campaign funds or sexually harassed nearly two dozen women. He calls the accusations "anonymous hearsay" that doesn't meet the legal definition of harassment.

He adds that he's prepared a document responding to each accuser by name, and he says he has text messages saved to an online server. Durham claims their release will clear him.

But one leading Democrat, Nashville Rep. Mike Stewart, doubts that'll be the case. He predicts that if Durham were to present evidence at a House hearing, he'll simply wind up digging himself in a deeper hole.

"Listen, if Rep. Durham shows up tomorrow, I will have no problem personally cross examining him about the attorney general report, and I'm quite confident, at the end of that, we'll be ready to expel Rep. Durham," says Stewart. "I don't think any due process is going to help him."

Stewart says Republican leaders run the risk of voiding Durham's expulsion if they don't do it by the book.

Copyright 2016 WPLN News

Chas joined WPLN in 2015 after eight years with The Tennessean, including more than five years as the newspaper's statehouse reporter.Chas has also covered communities, politics and business in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Chas grew up in South Carolina and attended Columbia University in New York, where he studied economics and journalism. Outside of work, he's a dedicated distance runner, having completed a dozen marathons