What did Beth know, and when did she know it?
We take up where we left off:
As it turns out, Beth knew quite a bit and she apparently protected the people involved because they were friends and allies of hers – and the women who were harassed and abused be damned. Let’s be painfully specific here by highlighting three of the most prominently accused and Beth’s role in covering for the culture:
Committee Chairman #1
The suspect in question still sits in the legislature, is a staunch ally of the Speaker and the Governor and is still a committee chair – despite the accusations and the known facts.
This legislator has been known to enjoy his alcoholic beverages. That and an apparent libido problem led him to think he could play “grab the cute staffers” in an attempt to satisfy those urges. It got so bad that someone in leadership (most likely an emissary from the Speaker) had to move all women employees from his office and it is reported that he is not allowed to have female staff members to this day. The logical conclusion is that the Speaker knew and, unlike in the Durham case there was no AG investigation, no removal from chairmanship, no public hand-wringing about the situation, no calls for resignations or expulsion. Instead, the Speaker was almost certainly and active participant in the cover up of sexual harassment.
Committee Chairman #2
This individual still sits in the legislature, is a staunch ally of the Speaker and the Governor, and is still a committee chair.
A long-time legislator who sits on a powerful committee who was widely reputed to be having a torrid extra-marital affair with a female staff member who reported directly to him. Concerned that the affair would eventually come out, the Speaker reportedly arranged a job for the woman elsewhere within the House and assigned her to the office of a top officer whom she knew she could trust to remain quiet. The woman remains employed in that office today, where she and Chairman #2 continue to see each other almost every day during session, sharing a quick smoke before each daily session. It is not known if (nor do we want to conjure the mental image) the two of them are still “physical.”
Again, there was no investigation, public reprimand, etc, etc, from the Speaker or anyone else in leadership.
The Senior Staffer
About three years ago, a top aide to the Speaker seemed to suffer from the same afflictions as Chairman #1 (booze and babes) and set his sights on a female staffer who was reportedly employed by a state senator (who is also still in office). The sexual advances, so the story goes, were not appreciated by the staffer and she complained to leadership. The Speaker’s aide was reportedly quietly hustled out of the Speaker’s office (so quickly that many lobbyists and other politicos didn’t even know he had left) to a new position in private business where he conveniently signed up a couple of big clients. The former staffer remains a prominent figure in Tennessee Republican politics.
This “rumor,” if true, is perhaps the most egregious since it would have most definitely involved the Speaker’s direct knowledge and direct action. Again, no AG investigation, no reprimand, no public acknowledgement, etc.
If any of the above “rumors” are even partially true, it all adds up to an enormous problem for the Speaker and any of her allies who may have participated in a cover-up. Their revelation will likely destroy any credibility Harwell has to lead the House and it would probably severely damage the political fortunes of a number of legislators, senior staffers, political vendors and the charming folks at the state GOP HQs (more on that connection later).
All this because a handful of guys treated women as prey and couldn’t keep it in their pants. No wonder lawyers are lining up to get in on the act. Don’t be surprised if there are not lawsuits aplenty calling out Republican leadership and looking for people to sue. The stage has certainly been set for a rush to the courthouse. Just today the Attorney General — who was in such a hurry to go after Durham — now says he would not investigate the scandal. No worries, Herbert. The lawyers and their clients will be more than happy to take up the slack and probe for details. Launch the Depositions! Full steam ahead!
[Editor’s note: What does any of this mean for Durham? The short answer is “nothing.” Rep. Pants Candy may have been treated unfairly in the procedural mis-maneuverings by Harwell and her henchmen, but he has only himself to blame for the result of his actions. He has spent his time in the docket and the voters delivered his sentence yesterday.]
Also today, the woman involved said “she does not wish to move forward with the matter.”
Uh, ma’am, that is no longer an option that you control. Through your original actions and your recent public statements, you lit the fuse. This will continue until the House and the public get to the bottom of what is clearly a sordid mess. Leadership and the perpetrator(s) will not be able to cover this up because there is a lot more information surrounding this issue and it is gong o come out. Count on it.
Now it is Harwell’s turn in the hot seat and it looks increasingly as though she will be called to account for her actions.
Will she survive? Doubtful.