NASHVILLE -- Embattled state Rep. Curry Todd stepped aside from his chairmanship of the powerful State and Local Government Committee today -- at least temporarily -- after a nearly weeklong controversy following his arrest on DUI and possessing a handgun while intoxicated.
"Today, I told Speaker [Beth] Harwell that I would step aside as chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee until this matter is resolved and she has accepted it," Todd said in a statement. "The committee's work is an important aspect of the General Assembly and I do not want my actions to distract from that."
Harwell, R-Nashville, said Monday in a phone interview that Todd "has resigned until the [legal] matter's resolved. That's where it is. It may never be resolved."
She said she didn't get a chance to speak with Todd until Monday afternoon when the decision for him to step down was reached.
She declined to speculate on what would happen if Todd is convicted on the charges.
"Well, we'll wait. We'll cross that [later]," she said. "I'm not going to pass judgment until the court of law does."
Earlier Monday, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, called for Todd to step down as chairman of the committee.
"Our actions have consequences, and I believe that Rep. Todd should resign his chairmanship of State and Local Government and concentrate on other things right now," McCormick told the Times Free Press.
Todd, R-Collierville, was arrested by Nashville police last Tuesday night, saying the lawmaker was stopped for traveling 60 mph in a 40 mph zone. He failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a breath/alcohol test.
A loaded .38-caliber gun also was found in a holster that was "stuffed" between the driver's seat and the vehicle's center console, according to an affidavit.
Last week, Todd resigned his chairmanship of a Republican firearms task force. The lawmaker, who championed a controversial bill that allowed permit holders to bring their weapons into restaurants and bars selling alcohol for on-premises consumption, last week issued a statement saying he was "deeply sorry."
McCormick said the firearms task force will continue and is looking at expansion of Tennessee's handgun-carry permit laws.
"I just decided to keep it going," said McCormick. "I still say it's not going to be a top legislative priority by any means."
House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, who is the panel's vice chair, voiced interest in taking over as chairman.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550.