McCormick had first-hand knowledge of the Durham accusations nearly a year ago.
At first, both Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Speaker Beth Harwell could barely hide their glee at the opportunity to take a shot at one of their political opponents (Durham), who handed them the opportunity on a silver platter as the result of his extracurricular shenanigans. What better way to strike back at the controversial cocky architect of the legislation that eventually killed InsureTN?
Now, as Harwell desperately thrashes about trying to find cover from the result of her (continuing) incompetence in handling the Durham matter, we are treated with the metaphorical image of Majority Leader Gerald McCormick hiding in his office with a bag over his head, hoping no one will ask him questions about exactly how long did he sit on the Durham information before the public learned of it.
After jumping on the Destroy Durham bandwagon, Gerald has now retreated to uncharacteristic reticence about speaking publicly on the matter, except in the vaguest terms. The reason for this is simple: Gerald has more exposure, but fewer resources to mitigate the damage than does Beth.
Beth has squandered her powers while simultaneously shooting herself in both feet, but she at least has the power to do things like call on the AG to investigate (even though she managed to screw that up too — asking for the investigation before clearing it through House rules. Sheesh.). Gerald, on the other hand has only his previous actions to fall back on, and increasingly those actions aren’t a very good fallback position.
If the coming AG investigation does its job, it will likely reveal McCormick knew about at least one of the women who complained about Durham as long as nearly a year ago. McCormick followed his conversations with the woman by offering a desultory suggestion she report her complaints to someone. McCormick essentially threw her and a second woman who complained to him later under the bus and possibly risked their reputations and safety so he could sit on the information he had on Durham until it was more politically profitable and expedient to roll it out in a political hit piece. His first ham-handed attempt allegedly came when Durham visited Chattanooga and criticized McCormick’s leadership abilities on a local radio station. McCormick, always quick to lose his temper, called Durham to yell at him and, in the process, used the information about the women’s complaints to try and intimidate Durham into silence. Talk about two rattlesnakes in the same feed sack.
These revelations about misbehavior followed by political intimidation and malfeasance have not been lost on members of the House caucus. Nosiree.
Can caucus members be certain McCormick and Harwell won’t try a similar political hit-job on one of them? No, they can’t. In fact, they already know of numerous instances of leadership employing similar tactics against legislators who dare stray from the governor’s and leadership’s agenda. Remember Advance Tennessee? And where do you think all those primary opponents running against conservatives come from – the Tooth Fairy?
It is also comical the way the InsureTennessean repeatedly inserts “temper” and “bullying” references into their stories about Durham. But McCormick’s bullying and tantrums are the stuff of legend, yet the media continue to give him a pass. Perhaps Dave Boucher is reluctant to burn one of his best sources?
McCormick better pray to the Almighty the investigation doesn’t include what happened in the run-up to the Durham news stories and that they do not look back at Gerald’s own complicity in the matter. If that happens, he’s toast.
It is for these and other reasons, RTP votes McCormick as the leader most likely to lose his job over the Durham Debacle.