NASHVILLE - House Speaker Kent Williams said House Republican leaders barred him from attending the GOP Caucus meeting this afternoon, while Republican Leader Jason Mumpower later acknowledged that "it would be best if he did not attend."
The incident occurred as Republicans continue to struggle with how to deal with Rep. Williams, the one-time Republican from Elizabethton who was booted from the Tennessee Republican Party last month. Party leaders kicked him out after he and 49 Democrats elected him speaker over Rep. Mumpower in a 50-49 vote on Jan. 13.
Rep. Williams referred reporters to Rep. Mumpower, of Bristol, and House Republican Caucus Glen Casada, R-College Grove.
"I wasn't allowed in," Rep. Williams said, noting they could not have stopped him, "but I was a gentleman about it and said 'I'll come back when I'm invited.'"
Rep. Mumpower said dealing with Rep. Williams is an "issue we're working on."
"If it causes discontent within the caucus, it would be best if he did not attend," Rep. Mumpower said. "And there are more than a few members who are discontent with him."
For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.