Update: 11:02 a.m. with statement by Kent Williams
The following statement was released by Speaker of the House Kent Williams regarding his expulsion from the Tennessee Republican Party.
Robin Smith has determined that I am not a Robin Smith Republican---that is a Republican in her mold.
I have hoped for some time that my party would work to build a bigger tent, a more inclusive tent. My hopes may have been in vain. The tent Robin Smith wants is a small tent. A narrow-minded tent. A tent with no room for alternative ideas.
No matter what type tent she wants for the State Republican Party it is clearly not the tent of the Carter County Republican Party. I remain a Carter County Republican with the same principles that brought me to the General Assembly in the 2006 elections.
I own a small business and as reported in the Tennessean on this past Sunday I have a 100% voting record with the National Federation of Independent Businesses. I am a supporter of Second Amendment Rights to bear arms. I am a supporter of SJR 127, the anti-abortion constitutional amendment. I do not want Government involved in all aspects of our citizens' lives.
I believe all members of the General Assembly should be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. I believe all legislation should receive a fair hearing. I believe we have a lot of capable and smart people in the House from both parties. In this time of crisis we need to utilize all of this talent and harness everyone who has the desire and ability to be a leader.
Apparently, these are not the traits of a Robin Smith Republican. She has made her decision. So be it.
Now let us move past this distraction and get to the real work at hand. This is a challenging time in our history. The people of Tennessee expect and deserve our very best as we move forward to address the major challenges before us.
Balancing the budget while still funding those items that are essential to keeping our state progressing will be a difficult task, but it is one that the General Assembly is up to if we join hands and work toward the common goal of what is best for the people of our state. We have a lot of work to do. We have to put our distractions behind us, join hands and work together.
Let's move forward.
As originally posted:
Tennessee Republican Party chair Robin Smith has sent an e-mail to her state executive committee this morning that informed them of her decision on the fate of Speaker of the House Kent Williams. The verdict was, as expected, Williams is no longer a "bona fide" Republican.
Almost three weeks ago, Williams shocked his now former party by joining Democrats in the Tennessee House of Representatives in voting to install him as Speaker of the House ahead of the GOP nominee, State Rep. Jason Mumpower.
This morning, Williams was asked by NashvillePost.com about being removed from the GOP roster, to which he stated that he had not been informed of Smith's decision and "right now I am concentrating on legislative work and getting ready for session tonight, there is much work that needs to be done here." Williams then said that he would issue a statement on the matter later today.
The move by Smith to strip Williams of his "bona fide" status as a Republican means that he can no longer run for office as a member of the Republican Party. It also means that Williams will no longer be identified as a Republican in press reports.
Here is a copy of the letter sent by Smith to the State Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party.
Members of the State Executive Committee:
As you know, I have announced that I will be making the results of my deliberations on the Williams matter public today.
It is my first duty as Chairman to keep you informed of the activities of the TRP and wanted you to know the result I will announce before it is made public.
I have reviewed documentation presented by members of the Legislature, members of this Committee and Mr. Williams' comments, both public and private, in the course of coming to this decision. It has been my intention to move deliberately to gain an idea of the course Mr. Williams intends to take. With you, I have watched his actions.
We have watched during the last 28 days to see if Kent Williams would assign the 13 Committee Chairmanships to the Republican Majority. He did not.
We watched to see how Rep. Williams would assign office space and staff to the Republican Majority. He has crammed 49 of his colleagues in 46 offices.
We have watched Rep. Williams maintain the same wage practices with Democrat staff earning more than the Republican staff, even as democrat staffers are assigned to fewer representatives.
We have learned that Mr. Williams has met with Governor Bredesen as the "Republican Representative" on the critical issue of the budget. Mr. Williams has withheld all of this information from the Republican Caucus encumbering their policy statements and decisions.
We have been repeatedly informed that Rep. Williams refuses to caucus with the Republicans.
We requested that members of the Caucus provide the TRP with specific examples of assistance that Rep. Williams has given to our candidates, caucus or party. None could.
So it is with regret that I inform you of my decision to remove Kent Williams' status as a bona fide Republican. In the end, I must do what I believe to be right in this matter and not just what might be the politically or strategically expedient response. The principles we value must be placed above mere political calculation.
With this decision, we send a message that Tennessee Republicans expect better. Our party is not the tool to achieve personal power. The grassroots members who work so hard will not have their dedication sold to the highest bidder. Ours will be the Party of principle standing on integrity and honor.
It is now time to move forward. My staff and I are already out recruiting candidates, raising money and preparing for 2010. Next year we will elect a Republican governor and strengthen our majority in the legislature. I am honored to have you along on our journey.
Robin T. Smith
Tennessee Republican Party
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- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS