Woman claims Jim Cobb knocked down opponent's sign at poll

photo Tennessee state representative Jim Cobb
Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

An investigation is under way into a complaint against Tennessee House District 31 Rep. Jim Cobb, who is accused of getting into a disagreement with a woman at a polling place on election night.

The woman, who filed the complaint, said she confronted Cobb Thursday after he knocked down a campaign sign for Ron Travis, Cobb's opponent in the GOP primary.

Mike Taylor, district attorney in the 12th Judicial District where Rhea County is located, confirmed the incident is under investigation as a possible assault. He said he is unsure whether an assault occurred or how the sign for Travis, who defeated Cobb, was knocked over.

"My understanding was that the person who made the complaint was out at one of the polling places, holding a sign for Travis," Taylor said. "There was some kind of action that occurred, and the sign got kicked over."

Jeff Knight, spokesman for the Rhea County Sheriff's Office confirmed that a complaint has been filed against Cobb, but declined to confirm any details because of the ongoing investigation.

Officials with the Rhea County Election Commission said no formal complaint has been filed with them.

Cobb said Tuesday that the complaint is "fabricated."

"I take no offense to what she said, but it's not true," he said.

He said he and the woman spoke on election night after he brushed up against a Travis campaign sign, but "not enough to knock it down, just barely enough to make it wiggle," and the woman approached him.

This is not the first time he and the woman had spoken, Cobb said.

"A few weeks ago, she called -- because I'm the state representative -- because she had a drainage problem," Cobb said. "I took care of it. My wife went by there and asked her to put a [Cobb campaign] sign up and she said 'yes.'"

Cobb said he was later told by a county employee that the woman had taken the sign down, so he went by the her house to retrieve his sign, leaving a note on the door. The woman responded, stating she would send him $5 for the sign, he said.

But he said the woman told his wife that a group of "hoodlums" had taken the sign as well as others on her street. On election night, the woman approached him at a polling place, stating that she had removed his campaign sign from her yard.

"I said, 'Well look, lady, you told my wife that some hoodlums took that sign and they had been taking signs up and down the street, and now you're telling me that you did it,'" Cobb said. "When she knew I caught her in a lie, she started hounding on this, saying 'Harassment, harassment.'"

Contact staff writer Rachel Bunn at rbunn@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.