As much as it pains the crew here at Rocky Top to have to say it, we took a vote amongst ourselves (it was a very close vote) and decided to offer our thanks to The Tennessean for crediting RTP with breaking the story on Beth Harwell’s “Hypocritical Privately-Funded Trip Tour.” Even though you didn’t get around to mentioning us until the umpteenth paragraph, it was still appreciated.
So to Ebert and Boucher (but not you, Plazas), it is enough for us just to know you are reading our drivel. The addition of the two of you now brings the total number of loyal readers of Rocky Top to about 5 people (give or take a few thousand).
Keep reading. Who knows — you may learn something.
Message to Beth Harwell, Joe McCord, Glen Casada and Connie Ridley from grand-daughters everywhere:
Clerk of the House flips off toddler
Speaker “took no action”
Ridley says “allegations fully investigated”
Casada defends as “just joking” and “just kidding”
Circle the wagons, Boys! We’re surrounded by pre-schoolers!
If the charges against McCord weren’t so gross, and the sneering complicity of Harwell and Ridley weren’t so revolting, this whole thing would be sort of funny — as in Glen “Just Joking” Casada’s inane statements.
Is the rumored deal you cut with Beth (you know the one – where you agree to quietly back her for speaker if she quietly backs you for majority leader?), so important to you Glen that you feel the need to defend a creep for verbally abusing a woman staff member while visually abusing her grand-daughter?
Tell you what, Glen. — you and Joe McCord come over to any one of the homes of a RTP crew member, flip off one of our kids, and see if you leave with anything other than broken teeth and a fractured middle finger.
Apparently “shame” is not a concept with which you people are familiar. So let’s just go with “scumbags.”
Other Politicians Glen Casada Might Think were “Just joking.”
“Just kidding – y’all can go to school here.”
“Just kidding, I really did have sex with that woman.””
Attacks messenger, instead.
In a clear sign she is in major, major trouble, Speaker Beth Harwell refused to directly address the charges of abuse committed in her own office, and instead attacked the legislator who brought the accusations to light.
Rep. Billy Spivey, at the apparent request of staff members who said “all proper avenue have been exhausted and have resultd in no administrative action,” released information that said House Clerk Joe McCord abused an employee in the Speaker’s own office, and that the Speaker, McCord, Harwell’s chief-of-staff Scott Gilmer and Connie Ridley all tried to cover it up.
The irony that this took place during the very same time the AG was investigating Rep. Jeremy Durham for “inappropriate behavior” was lost on Harwell, who took hours to even respond to the news media and when she did, attempted to smear Spivey in the process.
The attempt fell flat. RTP offers a brief analysis as to why the bald-faced hypocrisy of the Speaker has now devolved in a desperate attempt to slime others in order to hang on to her legislative seat and her job as Speaker. Let’s start with Harwell’s first sentence:
“It is no secret Rep. Spivey is a long-time defender of Jeremy Durham.”
That is not just a lie, it is a crude smear. The overwhelming majority of the legislature knows for a fact that Spivey was one of Durham’s earliest and most consistent critics. To say otherwise is ludicrous and Harwell knows it.
“Spivey failed to attend [the special session where Durham was expelled.]”
Harwell knows that (a) the special session was NOT called to expel Durham, but was ostensibly called to give a rubber stamp to correcting previous legislation and (b) she knew Spivey was filling in for the injured owner in running the day-to-day operations of a 2,000-employ plant. That Spivey chose his employees over the show-trial fiasco of expelling Durham is not only understandable, but admirable.
“Spivey… would not sign off on the [Attorney General’s] report.”
It was widely known and was reported that Spivey did not sign off on the report primarily because of his concern that the entire process was flawed and that the AG and leadership had not sufficiently secured the anonymity of the women involved – a fear that was realized only hours after the report came out, when even casual observers were able to decode the real names of the “Jane and John Does.”
But of all people in the legislature one would pick to smear, she chose Billy Spivey? The retiring Spivey is one of the best-liked members of a body that isn’t exactly known for self-effacing, gregarious individuals like the representative from Lewisburg. Even Spivey’s political enemies like him personally. As one Democrat legislator said: “If you don’t like Billy Spivey’s conservative politics, that’s okay. But if you don’t like Billy Spivey, there’s something wrong with you.”
For good measure, Harwell served up “an anonymous Republican legislator” who said Spivey was just trying to divert attention away from a private trip he took two years ago. Uh, Spivey is retiring, you twits. Why the hell would he give two hoots and a holler about some trip he took years ago in connection with a job that ends in just a couple of months? That’s the best you got?
IN A LATE UDATE: Rocky Top tipsters close to the controversy claim that Scott Gilmer and McCord have been “burning up the phone” of the staffer who was abused. “Witness-tampering,” anyone?
Make no mistake. Harwell’s desperate and dishonest attack on Spivey is nothing more than triage. But sputtering statements alone will not be enough to rescue a long career that is now very much in jeopardy of coming to an end in a dishonorable and embarrassing manner.
Maybe she should try blackmail instead.
[Editor’s Note: RTP prepared the following post earlier in the day and we had planned to release it this morning (Wednesday). But then we opened our Tip Line around midnight and received documents (below) that quickly pushed our little post into much bigger news and indicated events were moving very fast. Those new events, along with documents, are discussed following this original posting.]
Did an employee in Speaker Harwell’s personal office file a complaint against House Clerk Joe McCord for “inappropriate behavior?”
RTP has been told that the staff member is a prominent member of the Speaker’s staff and that she supposedly filed the complaint (either orally or written) in the last few months and was interviewed by Connie Ridley’s office. No substantive action was taken, and unlike the Durham debacle, everything was hush-hush. The woman is still in the Speaker’s office (the theory being that until the Speaker can figure out a way to move her out of the office – like Harwell did with her former chief-of-staff – they need to keep her close and her mouth shut to let things settle down).
Additionally, the staffer was told if she was uncomfortable, she could take a job in another office. RTP’s source said that Ridley or someone close to the Speaker opined “perhaps the office of someone in the Black Caucus” would be a preferable position. Aside from the obviously nasty racial overtones of the such a suggestion, sending a conservative staffer to such a liberal Democrat would have been seen as a demotion and professional suicide, with neither the staffer nor the legislator wanting to be forced into such an arrangement.
Our sources also say the “blue-ribbon” political reporters and editors at the Tennessean have been told the identity of the woman and that she apparently wants to talk but wants her identity protected. Hey, if anonymity is good enough for a bunch of Durham Jane Doe’s, it should be good enough for the Speaker’s staff – right?
Somebody call Suzie Alcorn and tell her “clean up on Aisle 3” in the Speaker’s office.
*** UPDATE ***
[Editor’s note: Just before midnight Tuesday, RTP tip line received the following letter, written by Rep. Billy Spivey, calling for a formal inestigation. If the accusations contained in the letter are accurate, then McCord needs to be fired, Harwell needs to be expelled to an office in the Rachel Jackson building and two committee chairman and a former chief of staff to the Speaker need to be very, very worried. Oh, and Connie Ridley needs to be taken out and tarred & feathered. metaphorically speaking.]
[If they want to retain even a trace of credibility, the reporters and editors at The Tennessean need to do their damn jobs and pursue this with the same vigor they did Durham. Just late yesterday, the Tennessean’s crack news desk reported this gem:
“GOP leaders are more than ready to put the debacle behind them.”
Ah, if only it were that easy. The Durham Debacle is so-o-o yesterday, don’t you think? Time now for the Harwell Hangover.]
[Could this cost Harwell the Speaker’s gavel? You’re damn right it could.]
We apologize for the poor quality of the documents. Our team will try to have a better copy later this morning, and we will re-post. You might try the link at the bottom of the page for a .PDF of the documents.
Click on this link to view the letter from Rep. Spivey:
College Libs decide not to go after UT Law Prof. Glenn Reynolds for a 3-word tweet.
Fear of legislative retribution the cause for their surrender?
It’s not often that we can “commend” those Politically Korrect Kooks at UTK for doing something sensible. After all, they were the ivy towered morons who gave us gender neutral pronouns and tried to ban campus Christmas parties. After spending millions of taxpayer dollars on such nonsense (while raising the tuition for its students), Chancellor Jimmy “turn the other” Cheek decided not to take on the renowned and popular law professor and founder of the widely read blog “Instapundit,” Dr. Glenn Reynolds.
After seeing the thugs in Charlotte who tried to stop traffic on the interstate while threatening frightened passengers, Reynolds offered the kind of driving advice you just can’t get at the DMV:
Now we know what some of you were thinking — he meant to say “Shoot them.” No, no we take that back, but you know it crossed some of your minds if only for a fleeting moment. Reynolds was promptly banned from Twitter and the pontificating pooh-bahs at Tennessee’s land grant university immediately puffed up and went all “safe space” on Reynolds.
Reynolds apologized (sort of) but stuck to his guns (an inappropriate metaphor, we realize, but a fun one nonetheless) as to his intended point of view and the UT administration quickly announced they had concluded their investigation (how do you “investigate” three words?) and would take no action against Reynolds.
Smart move there, geniuses.
Could it be the kings of UT had heard the same rumblings we here at Rocky Top Politics had heard? Several legislators were already talking among themselves about extending the budget ban on the UT Diversity office for another year if the dons went after the libertarian/conservative Reynolds. Yeah, touching that stove for a third time would not be wise.
Here is another little factoid that may have factored in the university’s weak-kneed response:
Take all the people who have received a degree from the University of Tennessee in its entire 222-year history and triple that number. It would still not add up to the number of people who read Instapundit every day. Every. Single. Day.
Suck it, social justice warriors. “Rocky Top” still rules.
Just ask Florida.
Harwell criticizes fellow GOP legislators for taking undisclosed private trips while she does the exact same thing!
Harwell said she would prefer that lawmakers not take trips like the ones with Gill and Miller, but she said, “If they’re going to, it needs to be disclosed.”
Beth Harwell is all for gettin’ some of that transparency and reform for others, but not herself. But she is lying through her teeth when it comes to holding herself to the standards she sets for her colleagues.
The Merry Band of Tipsters at Rocky Top have got hold of information regarding a trip that Harwell took less than a year ago that makes her into the one of the biggest hypocrites in the legislature (and that’s saying something).
We also understand The Tennessean (motto: “All Durham. All day. Every day.”) knew of the Harwell trip and said nary a word about it and now they are wetting themselves rushing to print stories about other trips by other (re: conservative) legislators.
Seems Miss Beth took a jaunt last fall to North Carolina to look at some private schools. Accompanying her on the trip was Rep. Gerald McCormick, Rep. Steve McDaniel and others. They all flew on a private jet arranged by attorney Lee Barfield, a well-known lobbyist and lawyer with the mega-law firm, Bass, Berry & Sims. They were going on a “fact finding, education trip” (sound familiar?) to take a look at Thales Academies – which compete with public schools by using – you guessed it – vouchers.
So Harwell was taking the exact same kind of trip that she is now criticizing her Republican colleagues for taking and for the same damn issue – vouchers.
And let’s see if the liberal, agenda-driven slugs at The Tennessean have the cojones (see, we spelled it right that time) to report this. If they don’t, then we modestly suggest the dozens of people who still subscribe to their rag cancel their subscriptions.
Yes, Speaker Harwell is quick to throw her GOP colleagues under the very bus that she is driving. Not a good strategy for collecting votes for re-election to the speaker’s chair.
Harwell’s standards (if you can call them that) apply only to legislators who are dealing with an issue she doesn’t want to deal with (such as the fight against radical Islam or the secret dumping of Islamic “refugees” into Tennessee), or who have opposed the Speaker one too many times.
Hypocrisy for Dummies
Let us break this down into simplified concepts that even Charles Sargent can understand:
- Taking a private trip to discuss vouchers in No. Carolina: Good.
- Taking a private trip to discuss vouchers in Florida: Bad.
- Backing the governor for allowing more Islamic Syrian refugees in Tennessee: Good.
- Taking a trip to see what happens when you allow too many Islamic refugees into your country: Bad.
If you think this is just like her handling of the Durham Debacle, you would be correct. She was all in a mad rush to punish Durham while she continues to protect her friends (current legislators and former staff) who were involved in sexual harassment similar to what Durham was doing.
Why anyone would want Beth Harwell leading them for another two years is beyond us.
Maybe it’s masochism or something.
[Editors note: Before some of you get your undies in a wad, you should know that the following entry was written primarily by Mrs. Hot Chick, one of our earliest and most dubious RTP crew members. So none of that predictable, knee-jerk, misogynistic conclusion-jumping from those who think we are being unfair to Beth Harwell. This is not the first time RTP has opposed a Speaker of the House who cried at the drop of the hat. That was John Boehner. He resigned to avoid being thrown out of the speaker’s chair.]
For several months RTP has been beset with numerous reports about Speaker Beth Harwell either openly sobbing, voice breaking, weeping or lip-quivering whenever she is confronted with a difficult situation. We are talking about well over a dozen separate reports (that we know about) of this happening. RTP largely ignored the first few as rumor, but the sheer volume coming from separate situations became too significant to ignore. Then The Tennessean (motto: “All Durham, all day, every day.”) reported during the special session “an emotional” Harwell addressed the GOP caucus “her voice breaking” during the middle of the Durham expulsion vote. This time there were about 60 witnesses.
Some – but not all – of these episodes are connected in some way to the Durham Debacle, in which Harwell has infuriated her colleagues by her inept handling of the whole affair. But such displays are not isolated to Durham trauma. It seems turning on the tears is Harwell’s go-to response for any uncomfortable professional confrontation or controversy that is directly tied to her leadership decisions. One legislator said there are many who feel they have to “tiptoe” around any pointed conversation they have with the Speaker for fear of saying something that will “turn on the water works.”
Harwell’s numerous sobbing or weepy responses to difficult political situations suggest either emotional/psychological distress or a calculated attempt to garner political advantage by playing the sympathy card. If it is the result of personal distress, she needs to seek professional help and remove herself from an important, high-pressure position whose duties have apparently escalated beyond her ability to cope. If the tears are for show, it would constitute a cynical attempt to manipulate her political opponents and even her allies and she should be ashamed. There are plenty of strong Republican women (or a few men) who could do the job without playing on sympathy.
It has to be one or the other. Which is it Madam Speaker?
At least one reader has brought to our attention that in our previous article, we misspelled the word “Cojones.” That error has now been corrected.
Apparently no one on the RTP crew caught the error, indicating none of us progressed much beyond 10th grade Spanish.
For those who are still confused by what we were talking about, just replace the word “cojones” with the word “balls” and our meaning and intention will become readily apparent.