The Tennessee Republican Assembly has asked Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) to begin an ethics investigation of the business conduct of State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma), a vocal supporter of Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase proposal, over potential Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contracts for his firm.
“The Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) is calling upon you, Speaker Beth Harwell, to investigate a potential ethics violation by Rep. Barry Doss, who also serves as Chair of the Transportation Committee,” the organization said in a letter dated March 27 signed by its entire leadership team and hand delivered to members of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday.
“Chairman Doss should have recused himself from the proceedings that could potentially have a direct financial impact on his business,” the TRA said of his oversight of the Transportation Committee as it considered the gas tax increase proposal last week.
“In this role, Rep. Doss has the capability to sway the committee by means of influence or by manipulation of the rules governing the committee derived from Mason’s Manual,” the letter continued.
“In a stunning abuse of power, State Rep. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) broke a long-standing rule of the Tennessee House of Representatives to ram an amended version of Gov. Haslam’s gas tax increase through the House Transportation Committee he chairs on Tuesday,” The Tennessee Star reported last week in an article titled “Boss Doss Breaks Rules to Ram Amended Gas Tax Increase Through House Transportation Committee.”
The Tennessee Republican Assembly letter cites “The Guiding Principles of Ethical Conduct for Public Offices from BUREAU OF ETHICS AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE TENNESSEE COMMISSION, 2014 General Assembly Training, ARTICLE 3, Section 1,” which “states that public officials should avoid the appearance of conflicts.”
In closing, the leadership of the Tennessee Republican Assembly “respectfully asks for an appointment [with Speaker Harwell] to better understand what steps you will take to ensure the integrity of our legislative process is protected.”
The Tennessee Republican Assembly (TRA) is a socially, morally, and fiscally conservative group of individuals committed to strengthening the Republican party by upholding the traditional, Republican ideals that represent the American founders’ original intent,” according to the group’s website.
“The TRA was chartered under the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA), which has a 70 year history of success as a true grassroots organization,” the site adds:
The NFRA is our nation’s oldest and largest Republican volunteer organization. President Ronald Reagan said that the Republican Assembly is,”The Conscience of the Republican Party.” The NFRA is the national umbrella organization for all of the nationwide state Republican Assembly organizations.
The Star contacted both Rep. Doss and Speaker Harwell for comment, but has not yet received a response from either.
You can see the complete letter from the Tennessee Republican Assembly to Speaker Harwell here: