Normally, the crew here at Rocky Top have a general admiration of the Dean of the Capitol press corps, Tom Humphrey. Other than his occasional knee-jerk reflex to defend the administration, especially when it leans left, Humphrey is fairly straightforward. He doesn’t always get the story right (who does in the MSM?) but he is accessible and generally fair-minded.
But in his Sunday column yesterday, where he highlighted three lawmakers who have recently made the news, Humphrey made an assertion that was wrong. Very wrong.
This from the Dean:
Durham…also has a corps of ardent defenders. Last week, for example, Rep. Billy Spivey, R-Lewisburg, wrote a letter to the chairman of the legislative committee overseeing the investigation to call for an end to an effort that “reeks of a political witch hunt.”
Anyone who can make it from the cafeteria to the outdoor smoking lounge at LP knows that to call Rep. Billy Spivey a defender of Durham is factually, substantively and demonstrably untrue. In fact, Spivey has been one of Durham’s most vociferous critics for both his professional and personal conduct, and his criticism of Durham long-preceded the current sexual harrasment accusations. Anyone who has asked Spivey his view of the Durham matter (which Humphrey obviously did not), know this is a fact. Spivey’s distaste for Durham is why Speaker Harwell put Spivey on the Ad Hoc committee, figuring he would be a reliable executioner of Durham when the time came. And that is why Spivey’s call to dissolve the Ad Hoc committee is significant.
Spivey’s use of the term “witch hunt” was not referring to nor was it even remotely a defense of Durham. Spivey was simply giving voice to discussions that have been taking place between every member of the House GOP the last few weeks. They are profoundly concerned Harwell has made a political and legal mess of the Durham issue that threatens her leadership. But even more concerning to the legislators (and the RTP crew have talked more than a few) is that the AG investigation has turned into an Inquisition that appears more concerned about digging up personal information on other legislators who are unrelated to the Durham case than it does about Durham himself.
Such an investigation can and will result in political blackmail and intimidation if allowed to continue unchecked. That is the nature of politics and political power. And that is why Spivey took the bold step to blow the whistle on the investigation.
Tom Humphrey is not frequently wrong, but he needs to pen a correction regarding Spivey. And he and other journalists need to investigate the investigators, employing the same enthusiasm with which they have gone after Durham.