david byrd

Byrd removed from subcommittee chairmanship following anti-voucher vote

Embattled Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) attends a House Education Committee meeting in Nashville on March 28, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Embattled state Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) has been removed as chairman of House education subcommittee a day after voting against Gov. Bill Lee’s school voucher proposal.

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) announced the move Thursday, The Tennessean reports.

“Following discussions with members of the House and after careful consideration, I have formally asked Representative Byrd to step down from his position as chairman of the House Education Administration Subcommittee,” Casada said a statement.

Byrd’s chairmanship has been the subject of regular protests at the legislative office complex over allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage basketball players when he was their high school coach in the 1980s. Byrd was overwhelmingly re-elected in November despite revelations that he apologized to one of the women in a recorded phone call.

“Representative Byrd agrees that this is the best path forward in ensuring the House of Representatives can focus on the issues that truly matter to all Tennesseans. This decision is based on input from members and to continue the orderly operations of the House,”  Casada said in the statement.

Byrd has long been a target of school choice proponents for his steadfast opposition to voucher legislation. This year’s voucher bill cleared the House Education Committee on Wednesday on a 14-9 vote. Byrd was among four Republicans who voted against the measure.

Casada supported Byrd during his re-election campaign, and had defended appointing him to his subcommittee chairmanship until Thursday.

UPDATE: Casada’s chief of staff, Cade Cothren, told reporters it would be an “absolute lie” to suggest Byrd’s removal as chairman was linked to his voucher vote.

GOP colleagues split over Byrd chairmanship

A Tennessean survey of House Republicans has found the caucus is split over whether Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro) should remain chairman of an education subcommittee given allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage basketball players when he was their high school coach in the 1980s.

Byrd has not specifically denied the allegations made by a woman who recorded a phone call with the lawmaker in which he apologized for unspecified past transgressions.

House Republican leadership tried to keep members from answering questions from the newspaper’s reporters, urging them to direct questions to caucus spokespeople. Eleven members declined to answer questions, while others spoke on condition of anonymity.

Read the full report here.

Casada’s office orders removal of women protesting Rep. Byrd

House Speaker Glen Casada’s office ordered troopers to remove six women holding signs protesting Rep. David Byrd’s chairmanship from a committee meeting.

The Associated Press reports the women sitting in the audience held signs at face-level reading “Enough is enough,” “Take a stand,” and “Protect constituents.” Three women have accused Bryd of sexual misconduct when they were teenage basketball players and he was their their 28-year-old high school basketball coach.

One of the women, Christi Rice, has since recorded a call to Byrd in which the lawmaker apologizes for unspecified transgressions. He has denied anything happened with other students.

“I wish I had a do-over because I promise you I would have corrected that and that would’ve never happened,” Byrd said in the recorded call. “But I hope you believe me when I say that it’s one of those things that I think about it all the time, and I always ask forgiveness for it and I hope you forgive me.”

Casada’s predecessor, Beth Harwell, had demanded Byrd’s resignation after the allegations were first aired by WSMV-TV last year. But Casada has deemed the allegations to be “fake news” and appointed Byrd chairman of an education subcommittee after he was overwhelmingly re-elected in November.

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Lee says he didn’t authorize mailer for Rep. David Byrd

Republican gubernatorial candidate appears in a state GOP mailer supporting controversial Rep. David Byrd of Waynesboro. Only problem is that Lee says he didn’t authorize it.

Lee was asked about the mailer in Williamson County on Tuesday, and said he did not know whether the photo was taken before or after sexual misconduct allegations were made public about Byrd. Two women said Byrd touched them inappropriately when he was their 28-year-old basketball coach, and a third said he tried to.

“I haven’t seen that picture, so I don’t know, and we didn’t authorize the use of that,” Lee said.

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) called for Byrd’s resignation, but he is seeking re-election this year.

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Casada’s PAC running ad defending Rep. Byrd as victim of ‘fake news’

State Rep. Glen Casada is running digital ads in support of Rep. David Byrd’s re-election campaign, likening him to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and President Donald Trump and saying the lawmaker is the victim of “lies & fake news” spread by liberals.

Stand with Coach DAVID BYRD for State House!

What does Representative DAVID BYRD have in common with President Trump & Judge Brett Kavanaugh? They’re all being attacked by unhinged liberals & FAKE NEWS with false accusations because they’re fighting for our conservative agenda! Don't buy their desperate lies…

Posted by Keep Tennessee Republican on Thursday, September 27, 2018

Three women alleged in March report by WSMV-TV that Byrd (R-Waynesboro) had inappropriately touched and kissed them as teenagers while he was their 28-year-old high school basketball coach. One of the women secretly recorded a telephone call to Byrd in which he apologized and told her how “hard it has been for me” to live with his actions with the woman who was a 15-year-old student at the time.

House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) promptly called for Byrd’s resignation. Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) soon followed suit. Byrd issued a statement after the story broke, stating that he has done nothing wrong over his two terms as a state representative and expressing disappointment that Harwell “so quickly turned her back on me.”

Byrd’s image wasn’t helped by revelations that he served as a character witness in 2013 for a family friend who as a 23-year-old teacher pleaded guilty to statutory rape of a 16-year-old student. WSMV reported that Byrd, then the principal of Wayne County High School, told the court that he believed the defendant had learned his lesson and that he would “hire him in a minute” if he were able to teach again.

The AP reports that a national political action committee aimed at preventing politicians accused of sexual misconduct from being re-elected is now targeting Byrd.