Jeremy Durham, who was expelled from the legislature last year following an Attorney General’s investigation into charges that he had sexually harassed women, filed a lawsuit Monday in Federal District Court claiming that he was denied due process in his expulsion, which subsequently cost him his pension and health benefits.
Durham represented the 65th House District, which covers western and southern Williamson County.
The lawsuit names Larry Martin, state Commissioner of Finance and Administration, in his official capacity.
The legislature expelled Durham in a 70-2 vote after the Attorney General released a report detailing inappropriate conduct from the Franklin Republican.
Durham has denied the conduct cited in the report.
The lawsuit includes an e-mail exhibit from the state Benefits Administration office which says:
“The question of whether former Representative Durham is entitled to lifetime coverage as a retiree was decided by Commissioner Martin after consultation with the Attorney General’s office. It is the Department’s decision that expulsion from the General Assembly does not constitute “retirement” that the law requires for lifetime coverage, so former Representative Durham is not entitled to that benefit. The Attorney General interpreted “retirement” to exclude expulsion in Attorney General Opinion 80-147.”
Another exhibit is a proclamation from Gov. Bill Haslam, calling a special session of the Legislature to deal with federal highway funding matters. The vote to expel Durham was taken during that session. The proclamation lists specific purposes for the session, not including the expulsion.