rick staples

Questions mount about Rep. Rick Staples’ campaign spending

On the heels of news last week that Democratic Rep. Rick Staples has been evicted from his Knoxville home, questions are being raised about thousands of dollars the lawmaker spent out of his campaign account.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel and Cari Gervin’s Dog and Pony Show blog, Staples spent $1,200 at a local restaurant just before his wedding last year, and on a rental car, hotel stays, and air travel coinciding with his honeymoon.

Staples’ treasurer, Wes Knott, told the Knox News, he resigned before the lawmaker’s most recent campaign finance report was made, saying: “I just didn’t feel comfortable being treasurer anymore.”

The Tennessee Registry of Campaign Finance has sent a letter to Staples asking him to clarify several expenditures.

Five days after returning from his honeymoon, Staples was evicted from his home for failing to pay $8,875 in rent. Gervin writes on her blog that Staples’ former home was at 1970 Locarno Drive, a property owned by Lawrence Thompson. Staples’ campaign disclosures say he gave what he deemed to be “donations” of $350 and $950 to a Larry Thompson of 1968 Locarno Drive.

Staples said his eviction was related to a dispute over “fungus” in the home. He told the Knox News he is currently living outside of House District 15 because of trouble finding a home accessible by his disabled son.

“This process has taken much longer than I anticipated and, while frustrating, has made me more aware and sensitive of the needs of my constituents with disabilities in all aspects of accessing public services and private establishments,” Staples told the paper.

As for legal action taken by his former landlord, Staples calls that a politically-motivated “character assassination.”

Staples resigned from his leadership position within the House Democratic Caucus last year after he was found to have violated the General Assembly’s sexual harassment policy.

Report: Democratic Rep. Staples faces sexual misconduct investigation

Democratic state Rep. Rick Staples of Knoxville is the subject of an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, according to The Tennesseans’ Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison.

A woman making the allegations tells the newspaper the lawmaker touched her inappropriately on a recent visit to the state Capitol complex. She says Staples made comments about her appearance before grabbing her and held on to her waist while standing behind her.

The woman reported the details of the encounter to House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville, but says she had to follow up with his office before receiving a reply. Stewart and Staples declined to comment to the Tennessean.

Staples could face disciplinary action including removal from the House Ethics Committee, to which he was appointed by House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) in January.

The woman bringing the allegations involved in state Democratic politics and says Staples had previously made inappropriate comments.

“My first day doing anything in politics, one of the very first things I heard was not to be alone in a room with Rick,” she told the newspaper.

Read the full report here.