Ethic committee votes down DeBerry inquiry - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ethic committee votes down DeBerry inquiry

A state ethics committee voted along party lines to drop their inquiry of State Representative Lois Deberry. But the case isn't closed yet.

It started with a birthday trip to a Tunica Casino. An undercover FBI agent offered DeBerry 200 dollars for gambling and she accepted. So one of her colleagues filed an ethics complaint against her.

Tonight, Deberry is officially off the hook as far as the ethics committee is concerned. That's the only group that was publicly questioning what she did. But now - some Republicans - including the one who got the ball rolling - are calling for an even broader investigation.

Germantown Representative Brian Kelsey told us politics are getting in the way of justice.

"When I filed this complaint, I expected it to be taken seriously and it really wasn't.

He said.

Kelsey is the reason Memphis Democrat Lois DeBerry - a 33-year veteran of the Tennessee state house - found herself admitting to a committee of peers that she'd made a mistake.

"I am before this committee today because of a lapse in judgment, not because of bad intentions," said DeBerry in Nashville.

In fact, DeBerry went further. She admitted going on a gambling trip with longtime friend Kathryn Bowers, and to taking four hundred dollars in cash and a gift certificate from an undercover agent.

"I did not know this person had legislation in front of the general assembly. I had not discussed legislative business with him. No one else, including Kathryn Bowers, had discussed any legislative interests about this company. If I had known he had legislation or planned to have legislation before the legislature, I never would have been where I was when I was," she said.

Her statement was enough for some. Voting along party lines, the ethics committee was one vote shy of moving the inquiry forward.

Now some Republicans, including Brian Kelsey, are asking the state attorney general to investigate.

"I'm disappointed that this was a party-line vote because I think this is a matter of right and wrong. It's not a matter of Democrat to Republican," he said.

And Kelsey says DeBerry's actions warrant greater scrutiny.

DeBerry - by the way - also told that committee after talking with the state's attorney general and other legal officials she decided to repay the federal government $400.

That's more than she said she took. But it's an amount she says she thought necessary to make sure all expenses were covered.

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