[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: