The career of Jeremy Durham, a Republican who once represented Tennessee’s 65th State House district, is now on a very different track than the one it was on just a few short years ago. Once labeled a “rising star,” the former state Young Republicans Chairman and energetic activist, has essentially seen all future political aspirations evaporate in a short amount of time.
Instead of rising on to leadership, a path that once seemed available to him, Durham’s arrogance and misconduct made him just the second Tennessee legislator to be expelled from the body since the Civil War. The 70-2 vote after a mere hour of discussion sent a signal that Durham and the extensive allegations of sexual deviancy would no longer be tolerated.
Now, Durham has another notorious distinction: he is now the recipient of the largest ever fine imposed in Tennessee for a campaign finance violation.
The former legislator was found to have violated campaign finance law potentially 500 times. He was found to have used campaign funds to purchase airplane tickets for his wife, as well as custom suits, spa products, and sunglasses for himself. Additionally, he reimbursed himself for expenses paid by the state, used campaign funds to invest $100,000 in a company owned by a wealthy donor, loaned $30,000 to a professional gambler with legal troubles, and loaned $25,000 to his wife. Moreover, Durham had instances of accepting more than the legal limit, failing to keep appropriate records, not disclosing the names of some donors, and having a $191,000 discrepancy between filings and his bank account.
As we noted in the case of the disgraced former governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, it should not be a surprise that the manipulation of the campaign finance system for personal gain, and the simultaneous feeling of being above the law, would go hand in hand with inappropriate actions in other areas.
The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance has imposed a $465,000 fine on the wayward former legislator. It remains to be seen whether this is the last we will hear of Durham, but, one would hope, that any political comeback is thoroughly out of the question.
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