published Friday, April 5th, 2013

Tennessee House may seek TBI file on Bebb probe

In an echo of state Senate action Wednesday, a House resolution has been filed saying that body intends to ask for the state investigative file into 10th Judicial District Attorney Steve Bebb's office.

Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, filed HR 60, which states the intent of the House Criminal Justice Committee to review results of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's four-month investigation. The Senate passed a similar resolution Wednesday.

The lawmakers' action this week follows the release last week of Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper's long-awaited report on the TBI investigation he commissioned in August.

The TBI and comptroller's office probed allegations raised in a Chattanooga Times Free Press series and elsewhere of financial and prosecutorial misconduct in Bebb's office, among other issues.

Cooper's report found that Bebb used poor judgment and mismanaged the office but stated that there were no prosecutable criminal charges against him.

Shipley, who sits on the House Criminal Justice Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that the General Assembly has oversight authority over district attorneys general.

"Therefore we have responsibility to make a fully informed decision and determine if further action by this body is warranted," Shipley said.

The chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee is Cleveland Republican Eric Watson.

In a statement through Shipley's office Thursday, Watson recused himself from the resolution and review.

"Rep. Watson is part of the law enforcement community in the affected judicial district. He has therefore removed himself from the process," according to the statement.

House lawmakers didn't vote on the resolution Thursday. It could come up next week.

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