Tennessee House panel named for Bebb inquiry

Tennessee House panel named for Bebb inquiry

April 20th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

Steve Bebb

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BEBB PROBE PANEL

Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport

Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah

Rep. William Lamberth, R-Cottontown

Rep. John DeBerry Jr., D-Memphis

Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis

Rep. Karen D. Camper, D-Memphis

NASHVILLE - The Tennessee House on Friday voted to join its Senate colleagues and review the TBI's four-month investigation into 10th Judicial District Attorney Steve Bebb's office.

The House voted 75-10 to name six members of two House panels to review the file. Later, Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, said a committee of House lawmakers that includes Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, will begin reviewing the files as soon as practicable.

Lawmakers adjourned their session for the year Friday, but the special House committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee can meet during the recess, lawmakers said.

The House Judiciary Committee and then the House Calendar and Rules Committee earlier Friday approved House Resolution 60, which directs the TBI officials to turn over all files, records, back-up materials, notes, interview transcripts and other exhibits.

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 Chattanooga 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, appointed 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 captain, recused himself. He cited his previous work as an investigator while Bebb was district attorney and as a court officer.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfree press.com or 615-255-0550.