The Tennessee State Senate voted on Wednesday to remove Democrat Senator Katrina Robinson from office by a vote of 27-5.
Last month, Robinson was convicted of wire fraud charges. The Tennessee Star previously reported that jurors convicted Robinson on four of five counts of wire fraud. Also, federal officials accused her of using federal grant money awarded to a health care school, The Healthcare Institute (THI), which Robinson operates. She was accused of using $600,000 from the school to pay for her wedding, a political campaign event, and other personal expenses.
Memphis-based Action News 5 reported that Robinson was originally indicted on 15 counts of embezzlement and five counts of wire fraud. A judge in September of 2021 removed the embezzlement charges and in January removed two of the four convicted wire fraud charges. Due to a plea deal, one of the remaining charges was dismissed. Robinson stipulated to the crimes as part of the plea agreement.
The Associated Press reported that Robinson called her a expulsion a “procedural lynching.”
Lt. Governor Randy McNally made a statement following the Senate vote to expel Robinson:
“While the expulsion of a Senator for the first time in history was not something any of us wished to see, it was a necessary action. The integrity of the Senate is of paramount importance. Senator Robinson was given every consideration and due process. The Senate could have acted immediately following her conviction. The Senate instead allowed her time to pursue every legal motion and all have been considered by the court. The Senate also delayed action in order to allow Senator Robinson time to reflect and resign. She declined that opportunity. The Ethics Committee Report was thoughtful, informative and persuasive. Senators Haile and Stevens clearly demonstrated that Senator Robinson’s actions demanded her removal from the body. While this result was avoidable, Senator Robinson actions and her refusal to resign made it inevitable. A sad day for the Senate.”
In January, the Tennessee Senate Ethics Committee determined Robinson violated the Senate’s ethics code and voted to recommend her expulsion to the full floor.
The Tennessee Constitution gives both chambers of the General Assembly the power to remove a member of the respective body.
Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for the same offense; and shall have all other powers necessary for a branch of the Legislature of a free state.
Prior to this, the Tennessee State Senate reportedly has not voted to expel a member in at least 150 years.
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