Because the board, which polices the actions of Tennessee attorneys, does not disclose investigations or findings of sensitive matters without an order from the state Supreme Court, it was Tennessee House Of Representatives Speaker Beth Harwell’s office which confirmed last week the board had reviewed the matter of alleged abuses of power and dismissed the case.
The matter was to have gone to the state Senate Judiciary Committee; however, the issue is not shown on any of the committee’s posted agendas and requests by the Banner for a comment from the legal counsel to the committee have gone unanswered.
Bebb was not available for comment when Harwell’s office confirmed the board’s ruling; however, he released a press release on his official stationery early this morning.
The Banner contacted Bebb, who confirmed the statement was in fact his and authorized its release to the public.
When asked by the Banner how he felt about the use of anonymous sources being used to facilitate the charges against him, Bebb responded by saying, “If they had indicted me, I would have faced them in court and been able to cross-examine them. I should have been able to confront my accusers.”
The following is Bebb’s public statement in its entirety as released to the Banner:
“In August of 2012, the Chattanooga Times Free Press published a series of articles which were comprised primarily of rumor, hearsay and anonymous sources claiming that I, and personnel in my office, were corrupt. These articles were picked up by other news outlets and reported throughout Tennessee.
“One of the primary sources of the Times Free Press articles was Duff Brumley, a former Cleveland Police Department officer who was fired for police violations. State Senator Mike Bell and State Representative Eric Watson were also both quoted in the articles. Mr. Brumley and Senator Bell are related by marriage, a fact that was not reported in the initial articles.
“Mr. Brumley has been a vocal supporter of Representative Watson’s run for Sheriff of Bradley County. The General Assembly, rather than see the allegations for the smear campaign it was, began spending taxpayer dollars in an attempt to remove me from office. Investigations were commenced by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the state Attorney General, and the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.
“None of these agencies charged me with a crime, which would have given me the opportunity to confront my accuser in open court. Instead, the Attorney General published a report criticizing me and my office. That report was subsequently submitted to the Board of Professional Responsibility along with complaints from Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and State Senator Brian Kelsey.
In 2014, the Chattanooga Times Free Press published another article quoting State Representative Mike Carter discussing the Board’s investigation. Representative Carter made several statements which were not true and basically instructed the Board to find that I had acted unethically. To their credit, the Board withstood the legislative pressure and dismissed the complaints on March 14, 2014.
“I do not know how many taxpayer dollars were spent in these investigations, but every elected or appointed official that took part in this entire disgraceful witch-hunt should give an accounting to the public. After the Chattanooga Times Free Press published the articles, the Cleveland Daily Banner, which actually engages in journalism, attempted to gain access to all of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation files dealing with the allegations contained in the articles.
“The Cleveland Daily Banner attempted to obtain a court order to allow the public to read for themselves what happened, rather than relying on yellow journalism. They were blocked by the Attorney General’s Office. I have answered every question asked of me and I was prepared to answer those questions under oath. All I requested was the opportunity to confront those anonymous sources hiding behind the Times Free Press’ ‘investigative journalism’ that gave the General Assembly the pretext to try to remove me from office.
“I served as a judge for 23 years, four months and two days and my honor and integrity was never questioned. I ran on and am serving only one term as District Attorney. I am ending my career in public office in the next few months, and I am almost 73 years old. I have been lied about and have had those lies published in every corner of the state, all to achieve the ends of career politicians who put personal and professional gain over honor and fulfilling their oaths of office. The people of Tennessee deserve better from their legislators.”