Democrats bash Harwell for not disclosing sexual harassment data

Democrat Chris Moth, opposing House Speaker Beth Harwell’s reelection in House District 56, contends the speaker is trying to hide something by refusing to release data on sexual harassment at the General Assembly, reports The Tennessean.

“I would have thought after the Jeremy Durham scandal, our legislature would be the most transparent organization in state government,” Moth said Tuesday morning at a press conference in Green Hills.

“I think that once again, Beth Harwell is sweeping sexual harassment under the rug and instead of serving the people of Tennessee she is serving her political and partisan interests.”

The Tennessean discovered the General Assembly was the only state agency or department to not release data related to sexual harassment. (Previous post HERE.)

…Moth said voters have told him that there are “major problems” with transparency in state government. He pointed to The Tennessean’s reporting on the legislature’s lack of sexual harassment data and another story about a one-day trip paid for by a prominent voucher advocate who took Harwell and others to tour a private school in North Carolina in September 2015.

… “In the absence of the records, we’re left to conclude that something is going terribly wrong indeed. And moreover that they’re trying to cover their tails in an election season.”

Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini, who has frequently criticized Harwell’s handling of the Durham investigation, said the lack of data on sexual harassment prevents the public from knowing what is happening to women who work at the legislature.

Holt Whitt, a spokesman for Harwell’s campaign, said Mancini and Moth were playing politics with a sensitive subject.

“The Speaker’s priority has always been ensuring victims feel comfortable reporting instances of sexual harassment,” Whitt said. “Under the new workplace harassment policy, if a violation is found a report is written and placed in the violator’s personnel file. For the first time in history, that report is subject to public inspection.”

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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