Stanley resigns Senate seat, apologizes over intern affair

Stanley resigns Senate seat, apologizes over intern affair

July 29th, 2009 by Andy Sher in News

An image from a Tuesday, March 31, 2009 video from the Tennessee General Assembly feed shows intern to State Sen. Paul Stanley,McKensie Morrison. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says Morrison, was involved in a sexual relationship with state Sen. Paul Stanley, , R-Germantown. Morrison's boyfriend Joel Palmer has been charged with trying to extort $10,000 from Stanley in return for explicit photos allegedly taken of Morrison by Stanley. (AP Photo/Tennessee General Assembly video)

An image from a Tuesday, March 31, 2009...

NASHVILLE -- Reeling from the aftermath of a sex scandal involving himself and his 22-year-old legislative intern, state Sen. Paul Stanley, R-Germantown, announced Tuesday he is resigning his legislative seat effective Aug. 10.

The 47-year-old Sen. Stanley, who championed several "family values" bills, said in an interview on Memphis radio station WREC-AM that "I want to apologize for my actions and falling short."

Earlier, he submitted his resignation letter to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, and Secretary of State Tré Hargett.

"Due to recent events, I have decided to focus my full attention on my family and resign my Senate seat effective August 10, 2009," he said in the letter to Lt. Gov. Ramsey, the Senate speaker.

His resignation sets up a special election to fill his seat because his leaving takes effect more than one year before the next general election.

FILE - This Jan. 8, 2009 file photo shows Sen. Paul Stanley, R-Memphis, during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

FILE - This Jan. 8, 2009 file photo...

In a statement, the Tennessee Republican Party stated the scandal "was an unfortunate situation for all involved and hopefully something has been learned from this. Considering the circumstances, Paul determined the right thing for his family and his constituents was to resign and we support him in that decision."

Sen. Stanley's decision came as Republican leaders stepped up calls for his resignation.

The conservative senator's secret affair with legislative intern McKensie Morrison became the subject of an alleged blackmail plot by the Austin Peay State University student's boyfriend, Joel Watts. Mr. Watts last week was bound over to a Davidson County grand jury on extortion charges after he allegedly demanded $10,000 from the senator over photos and a video Sen. Stanley had taken of Ms. Morrison.

During a radio interview Tuesday, Sen. Stanley did not provide details of how he became involved with Ms. Morrison nor was he asked about allegations by the Nashville Post that he had been involved in a "number of improper relationships with women connected to the state Legislature."

The soon-to-be ex-senator did lash out at bloggers.

In this year's legislative session, Sen. Stanley unsuccessfully pushed legislation that sought to ban gay couples from adopting children in Tennessee through prohibiting any unmarried couple from adopting children.

After news of the affair, Planned Parenthood of the Greater Memphis Area executive Joan Carr called the senator a hypocrite, noting in a blog posting that, in a conversation with him in April just before the alleged blackmail attempt occured, the senator "told us that he didn't believe young people should have sex before marriage anyway, that his faith and church are important to him, and he wants to promote abstinence."

During his radio appearance Tuesday, Sen. Stanley said, "I have been criticized lately for the positions I have advocated in the past, the pro-family positions, moral positions, whatever -- whatever I stood for and advocated I still believe to be true. And just because I fell far short of what God's standard was for me and my life doesn't mean that that standard is reduced in the least bit."

Last week, under pressure from Lt. Gov. Ramsey, Sen. Stanley resigned the chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee but indicated he planned to remain in the Senate. But Shelby County Republican Party Chairman Lang Wiseman this week called for him to resign, as did Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, of Collierville.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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