A day after denying knowledge of sexual harassment complaints against him within the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Rutherford County mayoral candidate Joe Carr went on the offensive.
Carr, a former three-term Republican state House member from Lascassas, posted copies on Facebook Wednesday of the state's harassment investigation of him, saying, "Liberal big government bureaucrats just don't sleep, do they?"
In the lengthy Facebook post, first reported by the Tennessee Journal, Carr says he has no scandals to hide and contends he can't be put on the defensive, before going through the accusations against him and dismissing each one from his time as an assistant commissioner in Gov. Bill Lee's administration.
Carr, who unsuccessfully ran a tea party candidacy against former U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in 2014 before becoming a perennial candidate in other political races, announced his candidacy Tuesday for the Rutherford County mayoral seat where he is likely to face Mayor Bill Ketron in 2022.
Dealing with urban sprawl, apartment construction, school crowding and limited space in Middle Point Landfill are his main running points. But questions about sexual harassment complaints started swirling long before he decided to run.
In an interview with the Tennessee Lookout, Carr said he decided to leave the Department of Environment and Conservation mainly because of the long, difficult drive to downtown Nashville from his home in rural eastern Rutherford County. He said he had no intention of staying with the Lee administration for more than two years and he left on good terms.
Yet asked Tuesday if harassment complaints affected his decision to leave, he said, "What harassment complaint?" Pressed further about whether a harassment complaint was filed against him, Carr said, "I would like to see it if they did."
By Wednesday morning, though, Carr posted lengthy explanations about complaints investigated by TDEC. In one case, he told a woman she had a pretty smile, which made her feel uncomfortable. In another instance in which human resources found no evidence to support, he told a woman she was cute and was dismissive about the #MeToo movement. In other cases, he told yet another woman she had a "cute pink nose" after commenting she had a sunburn and called another woman a "professional escort" because she was doing a good job of giving him a tour.
Carr's commentary is accompanied by state documents detailing the anonymous complaints about his comments toward women, in addition to unwanted hugs. Some of them are confirmed and some unconfirmed by investigators.
He dismisses claims he said he had a "crush" on a woman, saying instead he had a "crush" on her work habits. Carr says there was also no evidence he hugged anyone inappropriately or that he made "retaliatory threats" against people who "blew the whistle" about his comments.
"But of course, that didn't stop some liberal bureaucrats from trying to create drama because a conservative like myself was serving in the administration," Carr's Facebook post said.
Another complaint dealt with what Carr calls "locker room talk," not inappropriate claims about women, "just stupid male anatomy jokes." Two alleged incidents could not be proven, he says. In another instance, a man in the restroom was not offended when Carr says he "made a joke about the water in the urinal being cold/deep."
"I wasn't aware that the fella from the other complaints was apparently in the bathroom spying on us and reporting back," Carr wrote on Facebook.
Read more at TennesseeLookout.com.
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