Joint session on ethics opens amid controversy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Joint session on ethics opens amid controversy

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen kicked off a joint session of the state house and senate with high expectations.

It came moments after indicted state senator Kathryn Bowers was besieged by reporters from around the state.

”I have a duty to be here," she said. "I am elected to Senate District 33.”

Bowers and East Tennessee Senator Ward Crutchfield were among five lawmakers indicted in Tennessee Waltz, the reason for the special session. Both have refused to resign their elective offices, both proclaiming their innocence of bribery charges.

”I’m up here," Crutchfield said. "I was elected by the people of the senatorial district. I’m up here taking care of business. I’m going to probably do a lot of business. We’ll see.”

Germantown Representative Paul Stanley said it was a travesty.

”If you’re under indictment, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily guilty," he said. "That’s to be proven in a court of law. But while you’re under indictment, you should either step down or resign and I feel very strongly about it.”

State Senator Jeff Miller of Cleveland, whose aids have recently been testifying before a federal grand jury, told reporters he wouldn’t seek re-election and then side-stepped into an elevator.

Ophelia Ford, whose status is pending the outcome of a voter fraud investigation, was seated temporarily.

State Senator Steve Cohen, citing a Nashville newspaper article about corruption in the highway patrol, was skeptical that the ethics package on the table will do the trick.

”It’s going to be probably somewhat similar to this newspaper article, where the administration did what was necessary to get the media off their backs.”

But Governor Bredesen said this was part of the process, and it’s one he hopes to have wrapped up in three weeks time.

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