The Tennessee House Speaker who pushed for the Democrats’ expulsion has to answer questions about where he lives
As reporters question Republicans about this, they may add questions about what appears to be a far more serious violation by Republican Speaker of the Tennessee House Cameron Sexton. Popular Information’s Judd Legum reports that Sexton doesn’t appear to live in the county he represents. While members of the U.S. House of Representatives are not required to reside in their districts (although it usually helps), the Tennessee House does not, where the state constitution provides: “Each district shall be represented by a qualified elector of that district.”
But while Sexton has maintained a condo in a retirement community there since selling a larger home in 2020, Legum has uncovered plenty of evidence that he really does live more than 100 miles outside of Nashville in a district represented by a Democrat. Evidence like Sexton’s kid going to school outside of Nashville. A neighbor told Popular Information: “He says he lives here, but he’s not here.” Sexton shows up on some weekends and occasionally during the summer holidays, even though the legislature only sits from January to April.
In addition to blatantly violating the state constitution, Sexton appears to be desecrating the state’s taxpayers. During the legislature, he is asking for a higher daily rate, available only to members representing districts more than 100 miles from Nashville, to account for their hotel stays. Sexton represents one such district, but since he appears to live right in the Nashville area, he shouldn’t need the subsistence allowance to pay for a hotel room. He also claims commuting expenses for his alleged commute between his district and the Capitol. Between the 2022 legislative session and spending Sexton claiming on other round trips throughout the rest of the year, he claimed $35,369 in expenses, while the Democrat, who represents the district where he actually appears to live, claimed less when it asked for $5,000.
It is debatable whether it is worse to disfellowship two members of the opposing party for “decency” for peacefully protesting, or to lie about where you live and demand a daily allowance as if you live where you live live instead of where you actually live. But the latter decidedly breaks the rules as written. However, don’t expect Tennessee Republicans to move against any of their own. They have made it clear that this is not how they work.
On Monday, the Nashville Metro Council will vote to reinstate Jones to the seat from which he was ousted; If two council members vote against it, Jones faces a four-week waiting period. A vote to reinstate Pearson to his Memphis seat is expected Wednesday. Meanwhile, about 140,000 people in heavily black Tennessee areas are without representation in the state house.
Radley Balko has the receipts for years of Republican bigotry and abuse of power in Tennessee