A Leader's Power to Sanction-Or NotIn an entry yesterday, the Leftist blogger Aunt B. rakes Tennessee House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower over the coals for not laying the hammer down on Representative Kent Williams long before now because of his alleged sexual harassment of Rep. Susan Lynn:
But Mumpower had an obligation to at least every Republican woman under his purview and, I would hope, should have felt some moral responsibility to all of the women who might have to work with Williams. His responsibility went farther than just getting Williams to back off Lynn. He had a responsibility to make sure that Williams understood as clearly as possible that such actions are inappropriate and unacceptable. And he had a responsibility to do so in such a way that, if Williams’ next target were someone less powerful, less sure of herself, less likely to be taken seriously, there was a big red warning flag attached to him that he had already pulled this kind of stuff.
I cannot disagree with B. in the least that it would have been ideal for Leader Mumpower to have taken the hard line with Williams long before Williams had a chance to be placed in the Speakership by the party opposite. It is worth noting, however, that we do not know what Mumpower said privately to Williams, and that party leadership has never trusted the man-a lack of trust that seems to have been verified over the last week.
I tend to believe that Jason Mumpower probably did let Williams have it as best he could. Perhaps B. places in Mumpower's hands more power than he had at the time. As Minority Leader, Mumpower had very little power or authority to sanction Williams. That authority lay in the hands of then-House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. If Mumpower had reported the incident to Naifeh (and for all we know, he very well may have), Naifeh would likely have brushed it off as an attempt to trash Williams-and may have actually done so. Why? Williams was one of the so-called "Republicans" in the House who backed Naifeh and Naifeh knew that Williams was a thorn in the side of GOP leadership, so Naifeh wasn't going to pursue a case against his buddy Kent Williams (the really sickening part are the "Naifeh Republicans" now trying to make excuses for Williams and laugh these allegations off).
Now, however, it is the Democratic Party, and their Caucus, who have installed Kent Williams as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives with 49 of their votes plus his own. If Jimmy Naifeh would not pursue a case against one of his interlopers in the House Republican Caucus, it would be up to Naifeh's successor to utilize the power the Speaker has to reprimand Williams and call on the House to censure him. With the new Republican Majority, that Speaker should have been Jason Mumpower.
...It is the accused, Kent Williams, thanks to the Democrats.
Many will say that these allegations coming to light now are merely a case of "sour grapes" on the part of Republicans who are angry at unorthodox and unethical Democratic political maneuvering. While I am certain that may be the case for some people, Jimmy Naifeh simply would not have dealt adequately with Williams, and as Minority Leader, Jason Mumpower could not deal correctly with him as long as Naifeh was in charge of the House.
The problem now is that Kent Williams is the Speaker of the House. If these charges are not confronted now, there is nothing to prevent Williams from harassing or abusing women at the Capitol under the cover and color of his office. That is why these allegations must be dealt with now before Williams becomes untouchable later in the sitting of the 106th General Assembly. If Williams is telling the truth-something he has already proven that he isn't very good at-a thorough investigation will bear that out. If the allegations are true, the Democratic Party and Caucus which trusted this man and put him in authority needs, as a body, to publicly apologize for being so obsessed with maintaining power that it would place a man who they failed to vet, and who might be a risk to the safety and good government of the Tennessee Legislature and all of its members.
Buyers remorse, Democrats?