A Republican member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, who voted last month to expel all three Democratic lawmakers for protesting against gun violence, belatedly resigned Thursday—three weeks after a secret ethics subcommittee found that he’d sexually harassed at least one legislative intern.
Rep. Scotty Campbell, who serves as vice chair of the House Republican Caucus, resigned six hours after being confronted about his harassment by News Channel 5 Nashville. Prior to that, there had been no public repercussions for Campbell. Republicans had not removed him from his leadership positions, his committee assignments, or his seat in the House.
In an email given to the news station by a family member, the victim, whose identity is protected, described the harassment she suffered while working under Campbell as an intern.
She recounted Campbell seeing her and another 19-year-old intern entering her apartment near the state’s Capitol Hill, and said Campbell later “made comments about how… he was in his apartment imagining that we were performing sexual acts on one another and how it drove him crazy knowing that was happening so close to him.”
“I uncomfortably explained that that was not happening,” she continued, “and he insisted that he knew it was and asked me to tell him about it I explained that she is my friend, and he proceeded to describe how sexually attractive he finds her.”
Campbell insisted that these allegations are “not true.”
“I had consensual, adult conversations with two adults off property,” Campbell said when he was confronted on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “I think conversations are consensual once that is verbally agreed to. If I choose to talk to any intern in the future, it will be recorded.”
But the victim’s email detailed numerous other instances of alleged harassment, including Campbell telling her about how he wished “he had someone with whom he could just cuddle,” as “he is very, very lonely.”
She recalled an instance on March 15 in which Campbell asked her about her sexual history and offered to give her cannabis edibles to see her tattoos and piercings. He then begged her for several hugs and grabbed her around her neck, she said.
“I recoiled and said I felt sick and immediately left,” her email said. “That was the last night I ever spoke with or saw him. I blocked his number after that.”
Campbell once again claimed Thursday that those conversations were consensual.
“Private conversations are supposed to be private,” he said.
The four-member ethics subcommittee that was established in response to the intern’s complaints doubted Campbell’s assertions that these conversations were consensual. The panel found that Campbell had, indeed, violated the workplace discrimination and harassment policy, according to a memo from March 29 sent to House Speaker Cameron Sexton.
“Discrimination and harassment in any form will not be tolerated,” it said.
But until he resigned on Thursday, Campbell never faced any consequences for violating the policy. Members of ethics subcommittees aren’t even allowed to discuss their dealings in public.
Campbell represented House District 3 in northeastern Tennessee, serving in the state House from 2010 to 2012, then being re-elected in 2020 and 2022.