MORALLY INEPT: Byrd Lies to A Reporter, Lee Avoids Doing the Right Thing (again)

There was a sequence of events yesterday that was so ridiculous we just wanted to make sure to connect the dots for everyone.

As you all know by now, here in Tennessee we have a state representative named David Byrd who apologized on tape to one of 3 women who say he sexually abused them when he was their basketball coach in high school.
Despite hearing the tape, and hearing Byrd apologize for what he had done, Speaker Glen Casada helped Byrd get re-elected by attacking the victims as “fake news”, and then promptly made Byrd chair of an education subcommittee after he won.
Casada would later remove him, only after a group of brave women relentlessly pointed out that it was a disgusting thing to do (and only after Byrd went against Casada on a key vote to help Governor Lee privatize public schools dollars through his school voucher program).
During the ordeal, Speaker Casada lied to The Holler about meeting with the victims. Governor Lee actually did meet with one of them, and then finally, 70 days later – only after Speaker Casada went up in flames and agreed to stop being speaker – Governor Lee said he believed the victims… but stopped short of asking Byrd to resign.
That brings us to just this week, when brave Tennessean Anna Grabowski confronted Lee, asking him to get Byrd out of the legislature. Lee told her it would happen “soon”, seeming to imply Byrd would be expelled at the upcoming special session to remove speaker Casada in August.
WATCH:

Wonderful! Better late than never, right? Finally it seemed Governor Lee was going to do the right thing and get the Tennessee Republican supermajority to expel David Byrd (aka Tennessee’s Jeffrey Epstein) during the special session in August.
Not so fast.
The same day we posted that video (yesterday), Governor Lee then spoke to the Tennessean and told them he wasn’t asking Byrd to resign, and Byrd wouldn’t be expelled at the special session. Instead, Lee told them he had called David Byrd and asked him not to run again… in 18 months.
In other words, Governor Lee believes the victims, and believes David Byrd did sexually abuse those children, but he’s willing to let him stay in office for nearly TWO MORE YEARS. 
Not only that, but Lee also told channel 5 news that when Anna Grabowski asked him to get the “child molester” out of office, Lee thought she was asking him about Speaker Casada, and he says he was talking about removing him as speaker, not expelling Byrd.

This is literally impossible to believe. Anna was 1 foot from him. The exchange is clear.
On top of that, when AP reporter Kim Kruesi reached out to Rep. Byrd to ask him if Lee had in fact asked him not to run again, Byrd told her that wasn’t true.

Byrd then immediately tried to backtrack and say it was a “private conversation” he had had with Lee. But it was too late. He had already outed himself on the record to a reporter as a liar, while also essentially calling Governor Lee a liar.
So, TO RECAP: Governor Lee almost did the right thing, only to find a way to do the wrong thing, then lied about why he seemed to almost do the right thing… while Byrd lied about Governor Lee doing the wrong thing and essentially called the Governor a liar.
Got all that?
Bottom Line: The truth does not matter to these people.
Meanwhile, Byrd is still in office, as is Speaker Casada, and Governor Lee manages to show us his true colors daily, putting his moral incompetence and inability to actually do the right thing on full display.
This one should’ve been easy all along. Child sex abuse should not be a partisan issue.
Byrd must go. And he should take speaker Casada with him. Holler at Governor Lee if you agree.

VIDEO: Lee Says Byrd Will Be Gone “Soon” (But Didn’t Actually Mean It)

Here’s Governor Lee yesterday telling Anna Grabowski Rep. David Byrd will be gone “soon”.

He has since said he didn’t mean soon, he meant he asked him not to run again – meaning he believes Byrd to be guilty of the child sex abuse he’s accused of, yet is willing to let him serve out his term anyway. Wonderful!

Meanwhile Byrd told a reporter Lee did NOT ask him not to run again… before then trying to walk that back.

So. Much. Moonwalking.

So. Little. Leadership.

FLASHBACK: Speaker Candidate Rep. Jay Reedy Fails Basic Civics

Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin) has thrown his hat in the ring to replace Glen Casada as the next speaker, so let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to remember a few of his greatest hits.

First, there’s the time Reedy used the derogatory term “wetback” multiple times in a committee meeting about a sanctuary cities bill.

Then there’s the time Reedy posted incredulously (and Islamophobically) about “Muslim Day On The Hill”:

And then there’s this – an ad from Reedy’s challenger in 2016, Andy Porch, in which Reedy fails to answer 2 basic civil questions: What is America’s economic system? (capitalism!) and how many Supreme Court Justices are there? (9!)

Watch the VIDEO:

Needless to say, Reedy isn’t ready.

KANEW: “What Republicans Really Mean By Socialism”

This op-ed by Holler co-founder Justin Kanew first appeared in the Tennessean.

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WHAT REPUBLICANS MEAN BY “SOCIALISM”

The Tennessean recently published an op-ed from mega-rich Republican donor Lee Beaman saying we should be “concerned” a recent Gallup poll shows 4 in 10 Americans now “consider socialism a good thing”.

Setting aside the goings-on in Beaman’s personal life that may or may not have made publishing his musings on socialism – or anything, for that matter – the morally decent thing to do, Beaman’s article provides an opportunity to define what he and other Republicans mean when they attack everything they don’t like as “socialism”.

“Socialism is not merely free healthcare and education,” Beaman richsplains, it “causes hunger and economic instability.”

But here’s the problem – when Americans “consider socialism to be a good thing,” they’re not talking about “government-owned and operated businesses” – Venzuela-style SOCIALISM, as Beaman implies.

They’re talking about “democratic socialism” (or “democratic capitalism” as Pete Buttigieg calls it), adding elements that work in other democracies to balance the runaway greed and corporate takeover of our government – as evidenced by the outsized influence Beaman himself has over our TN legislature – to meet public needs, rather than profits for a few.

The decision is not between “CAPITALISM” and “SOCIALISM”, as they’d have you believe. There’s a spectrum. Having free public libraries is a “socialist” idea, but it doesn’t make us a socialist country. Nor does having public roads, or public schools, or a fire department, or a military, etc.

It’s about balance. The middle class is disappearing. Tennessee leads the nation in medical bankruptcies, rural hospital closures, opioid abuse, % of minimum wage jobs, and we rank near the bottom in health care access, infant mortality, mental health facilities, life expectancy, obesity, per pupil spending, poverty…. the list goes on.

This is the real state of the state – the utopia the “Greed Over People” GOP supermajority has led us to. Republicans brag about our fiscal stability ranking, but they never mention these.

Medicaid expansion would help 300,000 Tennesseans get health insurance. They call it “socialism”, yet don’t attribute the same tag to the $16 Billion farmer bailout to ease the pain Trump’s Tariffs have caused – bailout money that comes from FDR’s New Deal, which provided support for the unemployed, youth, the elderly, and included new constraints on the banking industry and efforts to re-inflate the economy after prices had fallen.

Think these same Republicans would’ve called the New Deal “Socialism”? Of course they would have.

Beaman describes “socialism” as standing in opposition to “freedom”, but what he really means is the freedom to maximize profits no matter the cost:

Regulations to protect our children from dangerous chemicals? “SOCIALISM!”

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect us from predatory lenders? “SOCIALISM!”

Medicaid expansion/Universal Care to protect our vulnerable & control costs? “SOCIALISM!”

Minimum wage increase to help those who work to support their families? “SOCIALISM!”

Paid family leave to help new parents? “SOCIALISM!”

Unions to help workers protect themselves? “SOCIALISM!”

The list goes on. It has lost its meaning.

But these ideas are not “socialism” or “communism” (Beaman conflates the two, either out of ignorance or intentionally). These are programs that work in other democracies, and they’re the path to a better America – an America that works for more than just those at the top.

We’ve entered a second Gilded Age – to Beaman’s benefit – but America wasn’t founded on unbridled greed and concentrated power and wealth, it was founded IN OPPOSITION TO THOSE THINGS.

So when Americans “consider socialism a good thing”, it’s not because they’re un-American or against freedom or hard work, it’s because we now have a rigged system where the government responds to the needs of big donors rather than those of the people.

That’s the real “insult to those who’ve given their lives to protect our freedoms”.

America has evolved over the years, and she will continue to. By pushing back against that evolution, Beaman isn’t “standing beside her and guiding her”, he’s trying to control her and maintain power over her.

“EXPEL CASADA” PROTEST IN FRANKLIN

Williamson County residents gathered on the Public Square in Franklin on Friday to call for Speaker Casada to resign from the legislature completely, immediately.

 

Maury County Dems Heritage Dinner (HIGHLIGHTS)

Fiery speeches at the Heritage Dinner from Senate Candidate James Mackler, Rep. Mike Stewart, AJ Holmes, Chris Hale, Holler co-founder Justin Kanew, and historic Memphis Candidate Tami Sawyer!

Channel 5 On Casada-Jones “Special Prosecutor” Craig Northcott Defying SCOTUS

Channel 5’s Report on Coffee County D.A. Craig Northcott defying the Supreme Court by refusing to recognize Marriage Equality.
 
Northcott is now overseeing the Speaker Glen Casada-Justin Jones Case. CAIR & Tennessee Equality Project have both called on him to resign. He previously made deeply Islamophobic comments on Facebook.
 
We initially broke this story… holler at Northcott HERE: 931-723-5057

Casada-Jones “Special Prosecutor” Northcott Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriage, Defying Supreme Court

We previously revealed that Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott, special prosecutor on the Glen Casada-Justin Jones case, made deeply Islamophobic Facebook comments, and continues to hold those views.

The Holler has now unearthed video in which Northcott says that despite a 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, he refuses to recognize it as the law of the land, won’t prosecute same-sex domestic assaults as “domestic” cases, and even encourages county clerks not to process same-sex marriages – saying he would use his “prosecutorial discretion” to make sure they aren’t charged.

VIDEO:

One of the most explosive scandals in the scandal-tornado surrounding Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada – who has said he will be resigning his speakership possibly as soon as next week – has been the possibility that his office falsified the date on an email to frame civil rights activist Justin Jones, to show that Jones violated a no-contact order and have him thrown in jail.

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk recused himself from that case, saying that because he was the recipient of the email in question he couldn’t be impartial.

The Casada-Jones case then went to the Tennessee Attorneys General Conference, which sent it to a “special prosecutor” – Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott.

Recently The Holler revealed deeply Islamophobic Facebook comments by Northcott in which he referred to the Islamic faith as “evil” and equated it with the KKK and the Aryan Nation, while also saying there are “no constitutional rights”, only rights bestowed upon us by the “One True God”.

Our report prompted formal complaints from Muslim rights groups CAIR and AMAC calling for Northcott’s resignation.

As it turns out, Muslims may not be the only community who have reason for concern with Northcott.

We’ve just discovered the above video from March of 2018, at the Chafer Theological Seminary Pastor’s Conference, in which Northcott gives an hour-long speech about “The Local Church’s Role in Government”.

After his speech, Northcott is asked what a Christian county clerk who is against gay marriage should do when a same-sex couple shows up for a marriage license.

The questioner asks:

“Let’s say the federal government does something ridiculous like legalize gay marriage, and you’re a Christian county clerk working in a marriage license office… (joking) this is all hypothetical… and you refuse to follow the federal law, and the matter gets Brought to the district attorney. Whoever that might be. How as Christians do you think we should deal with all those situations?”

Northcott begins his answer by questioning the authority of the Supreme Court:

“5 people in black dresses rule us.”

He says that with the Obergefell V. Hodges ruling, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples, and required all 50 states to perform and recognize the marriages on the same terms and conditions as the marriages of opposite-sex couples, the Supreme Court was “legislating policy”:

“If you ever read their opinion, they don’t base it on the constitution, they don’t base it upon law, they don’t base it on anything… They start in the very first paragraph by saying ‘we think it is a better policy for homosexual marriage to be legitimized, therefore we’re gonna rule this way.”

Actually, Obergefell V. Hodges was based on both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In fact, the very first paragraph does talk about the constitution- in fact, the very first two words  of Justice Kennedy’s opinion are “The Constitution”.

Northcott then goes on to address the *hypothetical* situation about the Christian clerk faced with a decision about whether or not to issue a same sex marriage license. He makes it clear he doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage as a prosecutor, and advises the clerk not to “succumb” either. :

“As to the clerk, it just boils down to are you gonna do what God says? Or are you gonna do what man says? And the clerk will probably lose their job either immediately or through election if they take a stand on God’s Truth. We are not saved from the consequences of standing on the truth… that would be my advice to the clerk: Don’t succumb.

As to what a District Attorney like him would then do to the clerk, he points to “prosecutorial discretion” and the “unfettered” authority D.A.’s have as a way for him to avoid punishing Christian clerks:

“D.A.’s have what’s called prosecutorial discretion. Y’all need to know who your D.A. is – y’all give us a LOT of authority whether you know it or not… we can choose to prosecute anything, and we can choose not to prosecute anything, up to and including murder. It’s our choice, unfettered, so to deal with that you elect a good Christian man as D.A. and they’ll make sure that they at least don’t get prosecuted criminally.”

Northcott explains that the Supreme Court decision affected his profession in ways many people don’t realize, particularly concerning “domestic assault” charges, which carry heavier punishments than “simple assault” charges. Because treating assault charges between same-sex couples as “domestic assaults” would be to recognize same-sex marriage, Northcott says he does not, and accuses the Supreme Court of “social engineering”:

“So the social engineers on the Supreme Court decided that we now have homosexual marriage. I disagree with them. What do I do with domestic assaults?… The reason that there’s extra punishment on domestic assaults is to recognize and protect the sanctity of marriage. And I said there’s no marriage to protect. So I don’t prosecute them as domestics.”

He implies this isn’t the only way this view affects his work, saying “that is one of many decisions like that that you face (as a D.A.)”, and adds “you need someone who will do an evaluation on those terms in making those decisions” – which appears to mean voters should elect Christians who will similarly disobey Supreme Court rulings when they believe the rulings go against “God’s Truth”.

Northcott then finishes his answer by returning to the hypothetical clerk, saying not only would he not prosecute her, he’d embrace her:

“If your specific situation came to me I’d pat her on the back, give her a hug, and say ‘go at it.'”

The rest of Northcott’s speech about the role of the church in government makes it clear he doesn’t believe the “lie” about separation of church and state, and quite the contrary believes “government was created by God” and therefore church and state are inextricable:

He says only faithful Christians should hold public office as “ministers of God”, and that the role of the churches is to prepare those “faithful men” to hold those positions:

He also goes on to talk about the “Religious Test” which remains in the Tennessee constitution to this day, and in his eyes means that only Christians should serve in office in the state:

“The founders of the state of Tennessee recognized that only Christians could adequately understand and implement the purpose of all government offices. It’s still in our constitution.”

Article 9, section 2 of the Tennessee constitution does in fact say:

“No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

But while “No person who denies the being of God” seems to rule out only atheists, Northcott insists the clause refers to “the God of the Gospel… the only One True God”… and hopes “one of those crazy groups that hates religion” doesn’t figure it out and sue to have the clause removed.

Northcott adds:

“If there are no faithful Christians, there’s no one out there to elect and to hold these offices.”

He also tacks on a few words for the media, who he says are in the “back pockets” of “unfaithful men”:

When you get a faithful man into office and he takes principled stands, guess who’s gonna be upset? All those unfaithful men. Well guess who they’ve got in their back pocket? The media. All the most vocal enemies of Christ are in their back pocket. So what happens? The faithful man gets attacked from all sides. Everything is misconstrued, give you half the information… I don’t know if you realize this, but the media twists things and have an agenda they want to promote.”

He says if Christians step out of government, other “enemies” will fill in:

“Atheists, humanists, Muslims… If we step out, we turn it over to the Enemy.”

And adds at the end that churches should essentially tell their congregations who to vote for:

“Knowing who your political leaders are is a form of worship. If you are going to elect ministers of God, I think it’s up to the church to make sure those in their congregation are informed on that decision.”

The LGBT community doesn’t appear to be the only victims of Northcott’s “prosecutorial discretion”. In 2016 there was an incident in Coffee County in which police responded to a domestic dispute during which a woman named Cindy Lowe had been badly bruised and beaten, but Northcott appears to have used his “prosecutorial discretion” to drop the charges against Joseph Floied, seemingly because Floied is related to Adam Floied, assistant chief of the Manchester Police Department.

Here are some graphic pictures from the incident, posted by Lowe on Facebook:

And this is a Facebook post from Lowe after our previous article about Northcott’s Islamophobia:

It’s worth pointing out that in 2000, the Supreme Court of Tennessee had this to say about the role of “public prosecutors” and “prosecutorial discretion” in our judicial system, saying that it should be used “without discrimination or bias”:

Tenn. R. Sup.Ct. 8, EC 7-13.

In short, public prosecutors hold a unique office in our criminal justice system.   Contrary to the State’s contention on appeal, prosecutors are expected to be impartial in the sense that they must seek the truth and not merely obtain convictions. They are also to be impartial in the sense that charging decisions should be based upon the evidence, without discrimination or bias for or against any groups or individuals.  Yet, at the same time, they are expected to prosecute criminal offenses with zeal and vigor within the bounds of the law and professional conduct. See Berger, 295 U.S. at 88, 55 S.Ct. at 633.

As for the issue of same-sex marriage domestic violence, an American Bar report on the domestic violence “epidemic” in America tells us domestic violence is in fact a major issue in the LGBT community:

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) people experience domestic and intimate partner violence and sexual violence at rates similar to or higher than heterosexual and/or cisgender people… studies confirm that significant numbers of transgender people are subjected to intimate partner violence… Unfortunately, in a number of jurisdictions people who are abused by a partner of the same legal sex are unable to access vital legal protections.”

Northcott was recently selected by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference to be a member of the group’s legislative committee, which advises the Tennessee General Assembly regarding laws and issues concerning criminal justice and public safety. This is the second year Northcott has been asked to serve on the committee.

If you agree LGBT people should be afforded the same protections as everyone else in America, and that District Attorneys should not be disregarding Supreme Court rulings and taking the laws of the land entirely into their own hands while hiding behind “prosecutorial discretion”, Holler at District Attorney Northcutt HERE: 931-723-5057

And if you have concern about Northcott’s ability to handle his duties regarding the Jones-Casada case, or any other case, Holler at the Tennessee Attorneys General Conference to express them HERE: grjones@tndagc.org

Lastly, and importantly, if you’re in Coffee County, and you believe Northcott may have mishandled your case, email us at TheTNHoller@gmail.com – we have some people you should talk to.

 

Domestic Violence Advocate Pleads “No Contest” To Assault of Woman, Casada & Legislators Were Warned

Danny Claud Hensley, a former Dixie Youth umpire and crossing guard at Lewis County Elementary School, entered no contest pleas to two counts of assault on May 22, 2019 in Hickman County Circuit Court, according to the Lewis County Herald.

Hensley recently testified at the state legislature to help pass the Leigh Ann Act – HB1340 by Rep. Clay Doggett (R-Lawrenceburg), SB1163 by Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) – which creates a Class A misdemeanor for violating a no contact order issued to a domestic violence victim.

The bill is named for his daughter Leigh Ann Hensley, who was shot to death by a man in a domestic dispute. Hensley gave emotional testimony at the Judiciary committee, and held a picture of Leigh Ann as he spoke, saying:

“I had never taken domestic violence serious until it hit us.”

The indictment against Hensley states Grand Jurors for Lewis County presented that Hensley “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly, did cause physical contact with Coleen Kimbro, which a reasonable person would regard as extremely offensive or provocative”  (Victim’s name used with permission).

Hensley was sentenced to six months probation, and a no contact order was put in place regarding the victim and her parents.

Kimbro tells the Holler many of the legislators responsible for bringing Hensley in to testify, and for getting his bill passed, were made aware of the situation, including Speaker Glen Casada:

“Speaker of The House Glen Casada was informed about Danny Hensley being brought up on 5 counts of charges. Rep. Bruce Griffey, Senator Joey Hensley, Rep. Clay Doggett, Rep. David Byrd, Mark Hall and Chief of Police Sam Livingston all knew about Hensley being indicted and charged with 5 counts of assault, as well as the felony forgery charges, and still sponsored and endorsed not only the bill but Hensley as well. The Chief of Police, was his former employer and is his friend and Pastor.

Can You Say Good Ole Boy?”

Kimbro says that victims “truly are seeking justice”, and that healing only begins once justice has been given to victims and their families:
“Victims are not out to destroy other people and their reputations, victims simply want to move forward and not have to live in fear.”
Her Victim Impact statement states:
“Danny Hensley was sworn to protect and serve and instead he preyed on the most vulnerable. He knew I was already a victim of rape and domestic assault and used his position as a sitting board member at the Shelter and as an officer at the Hohenwald Police Department to abuse and assault me. Danny Hensley used his positions to threaten me with his friends in power. He kept me in fear and made me feel as though there was no way a victim could ever trust an officer or ever expect any justice. In Danny Hensley’s own words, ‘no woman should live in fear’, and yet I lived in fear daily because of Danny Hensley, who portrayed himself to be a protector of women while he was abusing me.
I pray that Danny Hensley is never put in a position where he is able to harm another individual again, because the emotional damage they suffer is lifelong compared to the short sentence he will serve.”
Kimbro went on to tell The Holler:
“Victims see men in power portraying themselves as heroes while the men torment and prey on the most vulnerable and make them feel even more vulnerable and abused. Sadly, I begged for help before the bill was passed and no one cared. Now that the bill has passed they have given a predator immortality, and only victimized his victim more by refusing to act when I begged for help.”
Tennessee ranks #5 in the nation for women murdered through domestic violence. Columbia is the city where it happens most. Hensley told the Judiciary committee he had been to 154 different churches talking about the issue of domestic violence.

Hensley also entered conditional pleas of guilty to 4 counts of forgery, for which he was sentenced to pay court costs and serve two years supervised probation. Four charges of misdemeanor theft were dismissed as part of the plea negotiations.  

In April of 2018 he was released from umpire duties for Lewis County Dixie Youth Baseball and Softball by the board of directors via an official letter claiming Mr. Hensley had kept two different Lewis County Dixie Youth paychecks that belonged to at least two different umpires, forged the umpires signatures of endorsement on the back of the checks, and cashed them.

Ogles & Casada Skip Williamson County “Legislative Update”

This morning in Franklin was the monthly Williamson County “Legislative Update”, hosted by Williamson Inc.

The event was called a “Town Hall” until recently, but the name was apparently changed after former State House candidate Rebecca Purington called them out for calling it a “Town Hall” without actually taking questions.

Fair point, Rebecca.

They stopped taking questions after Ashley Massey stood up and pinned Williamson legislators to the wall about their silence about Rep. David Byrd, who has apologized on tape to 1 of 3 women who say he molested them in high school.

Byrd remains in office to this day, but how long he lasts remains to be seen since his chief protector Glen Casada will be resigning his speakership in shame in the coming days.

Casada was not at the “Legislative Update”, apparently getting some sun in Greece.

Casada’s pal Brandon Ogles also skipped the meeting, letting the organizers know at 530AM this morning that he had a sudden “rotator cuff ” injury. (mm hmmmm)

 

The only Williamson legislators to show up were Sam Whitson and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. Below are some clips of a few of the subjects they covered.

Whitson talked about the passage of the Katie Beckett Waiver, which keeps parents of disabled children from having to make impossible decision to keep their kids on insurance.

No word on why that logic shouldn’t apply to the 300,000 other Tennesseans faced with the very same decisions, who don’t have insurance because of the Republican refusal to expand Medicaid, which costs Tennessee billions of dollars each year.

After the meeting Senator Johnson answered our question about the “Heartbeat Bill”, which seeks to ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected, and makes no exceptions for rape or incest – which means a raped teenage girl would have to carry her rapist’s child to term.

The film industry has recently said they w0n’t do business in Georgia if their similar bill becomes law. When asked what Johnson would say to industries that may have the same issue with Tennessee  were Tennessee’s bill to pass, his answer:

“Go back to California.”