NASHVILLE — The Tennessee House today by a 75-10 vote OK’d a resolution authorizing six members of two House panels to examine files of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into allegations against District Attorney General Steve Bebb of Cleveland.
The House Judiciary Committee and then the House Calendar and Rules Committee earlier this morning approved House Resolution 60, which directs the TBI officials to turn over all files, records, back-up materials, notes, interview transcripts and other exhibits.
Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, said lawmakers’ intention is to begin reviewing the files as soon as today if practicable. Lawmakers are scrambling to conclude their annual legislative session this afternoon.
Senators previously approved a similar resolution.
The effort to review the TBI’s investigation comes after Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper on March 25 released his long-awaited report on Bebb and alleged misconduct in the 10th Judicial District, which includes Bradley, Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties.
Relying on the TBI investigation, which looked into issues raised in a Times Free Press series last summer, Cooper criticized Bebb’s office for poor judgment, mismanagement and deficient record keeping.
But Cooper said he found no prosecutable evidence against Bebb on allegations of prosecutorial and financial misconduct, speaking untruthfully under oath and other questions.
Lawmakers say that because of the public nature of the allegations and Cooper’s report, they feel obligated to look at the TBI investigation themselves.
The plan is for selected members of the Criminal Justice Committee and Civil Justice Committee to examine the material. House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, would appoint six members from both committees, three Republicans and three Democrats.
During the Criminal Justice Committee hearing, Chairman Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, a former Bradley County sheriff’s lieutenant, recused himself. He cited his previous work both as an investigator while Bebb was district attorney and court officer.t, recused himself. He cited his previous work both as an investigator while Bebb was district attorney and court officer.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...