Republicans in the Tennessee House of Representatives appear to be formally preparing for possible disciplinary action against a ranking member of their caucus.
In a statement released to the media Thursday morning, GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Thompson Station announced that he is requesting a special meeting of the 73-member strong House supermajority when the Legislature convenes next month.
On the agenda would be a discussion about recently reported controversies surrounding Casada’s fellow Williamson County lawmaker, Jeremy Durham, who currently serves as the House majority whip.
“As Chairman of the Republican Caucus, I am calling a meeting to be held on January 12th to discuss upcoming legislative issues and the leadership position of Majority Whip,” Casada said in an emailed statement through the GOP Caucus communications office.
Durham has been drawing scrutiny for a couple of unrelated incidents that occurred in 2013 and 2014.
In one case, Durham was accused by state drug-enforcement police of illegally altering a prescription to obtain medication from a Kroger pharmacy.
A grand jury in Williamson County subsequently refused to indict him when the case was brought before them.
“This situation is from two and a half years ago and was fully vetted by 12 Williamson County citizens who quickly agreed that nothing illegal occurred,” Durham said in response to publicity the case has garnered. “I possessed two additional valid and current prescriptions for the same medication and dosage in question and never attempted to obtain anything I had not been prescribed by a doctor.”
With respect to the other matter, Rep. Durham wrote a letter in March of 2014 urging a judge to consider granting leniency to a local youth pastor who’d pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.
Following press accounts of the case last week on the heels of stories about the grand jury’s consideration of the prescription forgery accusation, Durham said, “It’s pretty clear that the liberal media is just on another witch hunt.”
In a statement issued early Thursday afternoon, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said:
“I have received a number of requests from members of our Caucus for a full Caucus meeting to discuss Rep. Durham’s status as a member of Leadership. Certainly we will honor those requests and have a meeting to discuss this issue. I’m looking forward to putting this distraction behind us and moving on with the business of the state.”