- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee attorney general’s office has requested that Rep. Jeremy Durham turn over all state electronic devices and personal email accounts as part of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations, the Republican lawmaker said Tuesday.

Durham, who has denied any wrongdoing, told the Williamson Herald on Tuesday (https://bit.ly/1PPBLMn) that he considers the scope of the investigation “unreasonable,” and that he will seek Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s recusal. Parts of Williamson County are in his district.

Durham, who did not immediately return an email message from The Associated Press on Tuesday evening, said he has turned over his legislative iPad and that Slatery’s office has already made a copy of his hard drive at the General Assembly.

But Durham is seeking legal advice before deciding whether to comply with Slatery’s request for all personal email accounts since January 2013.

“The scope of the request is extremely unreasonable - especially considering no complaint was ever filed,” Durham told the paper. “I’m concerned about the privacy of my constituents, friends in the community, fellow lawmakers, legal clients and my title company clients.” 

Durham last month stepped down as majority whip and then withdrew from the House Republican caucus. He then went on a two-week hiatus from the General Assembly to seek medical and pastoral counseling.

A special House panel appointed by Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, named Slatery’s office to head an investigation into Durham’s behavior.

Harwell, who has called on Durham to step down, has not ruled out ouster proceedings against the lawmaker after The Tennessean newspaper reported that he sent post-midnight text messages asking two women working at the Legislature to send him pictures.

The newspaper did not publish the text messages or identify the women.

“I haven’t seen text messages, and I will not comment on a text message that I have not seen,” Durham told the Williamson Herald.

Durham told the paper he will ask Slatery to recuse himself and for the attorney general’s office to be removed from the investigation.

“I am wondering whether the panel appointed by Harwell has the same legality as the constitutional majority of 50 House members,” he said.

Durham’s colleagues also questioned previous behavior that included writing a letter on House stationery on behalf of a former pastor who pleaded guilty to child porn possession and statutory rape of a 16-year-old parishioner.

Prosecutors in 2014 sought fraud charges against Durham on allegations of altering medical prescriptions, but a grand jury declined to indict the lawmaker.

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