State Rep. Jim Cobb charged with assault

photo Tennessee state representative Jim Cobb

LAWMAKER INDICTMENTS• Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, was charged in March with domestic assault on his wife, which he denies.• Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, was arrested last October on charges of DUI and carrying a gun while intoxicated in his vehicle.Hawk and Todd were chairmen of House committees when they were arrested; both have stepped down since their charges.Neither case has been resolved.Source: Times Free Press archives

State Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, called his arrest Tuesday on an assault charge "politically motivated" and predicted it would be "washed away" in court.

Cobb was arrested in connection with an incident that happened on election day in August.

He turned himself in at the Rhea County Sheriff's Department in Dayton, Tenn., just after lunchtime. He said the charge arises from a dirty political race for the House seat he narrowly lost on Aug. 2.

"That's the whole personality of this race that we just ran," Cobb said. "Lies and mistruths? It was filled with that."

Cobb is scheduled to appear for a hearing Friday in Rhea County Circuit Court. The crime is a class A misdemeanor.

Mike Taylor, 12th Judicial District attorney general, said he could not discuss details in the investigation, but said the charge was related to an incident at Frazier Elementary School where a voting poll was set up on election day.

The alleged victim and a sheriff's deputy testified Monday before the grand jury, he said.

The indictment issued Monday by the grand jury states that Cobb assaulted Wanda Sue Goins, causing her to "fear imminent bodily injury" in the incident.

Messages left on Goins' phone Tuesday were not returned. According to a Rhea County Sheriff's Department report, Goins was sitting in her wheelchair at Frazier Elementary, campaigning for Cobb's opponent, Ron Travis, on Aug. 2 when Cobb pulled up in his pickup truck, got out and "attempted to knock down Ron Travis' sign."

Cobb reportedly walked back toward his truck, turned around and "started fussing at her, pointing his finger at her about supporting Ron Travis," the report states.

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Cobb then "raised his hand up toward her and it scared her because she thought Jim was going to hit her," the report states.

Cobb denied allegations there was an assault.

"There was no contact," he said. "There were never even any harsh words [to] come out of my mouth to that lady."

Goins also told the deputy Cobb had harassed her on the phone about her political loyalties, the report states.

On Tuesday, Cobb said he was the last to know about the coming criminal charge, and his political opponents celebrated his arrest.

"It was like a bunch of buzzards out there," Cobb said of activities around the jail while he was being booked. "All the people who were against me were out there driving their vehicles around in circles just laughing and having a big time. But, you know, what goes around comes around."

In September 2008, allegations of wiretapping against Cobb prompted an investigation in Nashville. He wound up not being charged for secretly placing a voice-activated tape recorder under an assistant's desk, although noting the actions "technically" violate a state wiretapping statute.

The prosecutor said his decision not to prosecute was because of poor sound quality on the recording and other factors.

"I do not believe the matter is worthy of criminal prosecution," the prosecutor wrote in a letter to then-House Speaker Kent Williams.

Cobb characterized the incident as "a joke" and said no invasion of privacy was intended, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives.