DA Bebb Says Times Free Press Engaged In "Disgraceful Witch Hunt"; Hits Legislators Who Sought His Ouster

Monday, March 24, 2014

Outgoing 10th Judicial District DA Steve Bebb issued a statement Monday hitting the Chattanooga Times Free Press for "a disgraceful witch hunt" against him.

He also hit state legislators "who put personal and professional gain over honor and fulfilling their oaths of offices."

The state Board of Professional Responsibility on March 14 dismissed complaints against DA Bebb.

District Attorney Bebb, a former criminal court judge, said, "In August of 2012, the Chattanooga Times Free Press published a series of articles which were comprised primarily of rumor, hearsay and anonymous sources claiming that I, and personnel in my office, was corrupt.  These articles were picked up by other news outlets and reported throughout Tennessee.

"One of the primary sources of the Times Free Press articles was Duff Brumley, a former Cleveland Police Department officer who was fired for policy violations.  State Senator Mike Bell and State Rep. Eric Watson were also both quoted in the articles.  Mr. Brumley and Senator Bell are related by marriage, a fact that was not reported in the initial articles.  Mr. Brumley has been a vocal supporter of Rep. Watson’s run for Sheriff of Bradley County.  The General Assembly, rather than see the allegations for the smear campaign it was, began spending taxpayer dollars in an attempt to remove me from office. 

"Investigations were commenced by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the State Attorney General, and the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.  None of these agencies charged me with a crime which would have given me the opportunity to confront my accusers in open court.  Instead the Attorney General published a report criticizing me and my office.  That report was subsequently submitted to the Board of Professional Responsibility along with complaints from Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and State Senator Brian Kelsey. 

"In 2014 the Chattanooga Times Free Press published another article quoting State Rep. Mike Carter discussing the Board’s investigation.  Representative Carter made several statements which were not true and basically told the Board to find that I had acted unethically.  To their credit the Board withstood the legislative pressure and dismissed the complaints on March 14. 

"I do not know how much taxpayer dollars were spent in these investigations but every elected or appointed official that took part in this entire disgraceful witch hunt should give an accounting to the public.  After the Chattanooga Times Free Press published the articles, the Cleveland Daily Banner, which actually engages in journalism, attempted to gain access to all of the Tennessee Bureau Investigation files dealing with the allegations contained in the articles.  The Cleveland Daily Banner attempted to get an order so that the public could read for themselves what happened rather than relying on yellow journalism and they were blocked by the Attorney General’s Office.  I have answered every question asked of me and I was prepared to answer those questions under oath.  All I asked was the opportunity to confront those anonymous sources hiding behind the Times Free Press 'investigative journalism' that gave the General Assembly the pretext to try to remove me from office.

"I served as a judge for 23 years, four months and two days and my honor and integrity was never questioned.  I ran on and am serving only one term as District Attorney.  I am ending my career in public office in the next few months and I am 72 years old. I have been lied about and had those lies published in every corner of this state all to achieve the ends of career politicians who put personal and professional gain over honor and fulfilling their oaths of office.  The people of Tennessee deserve better from their legislators." 

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