Nashville DA will not enforce trans bathroom signage bill in Tennessee

Nashville’s top prosecutor will stand against the state legislature and refuse to enforce what he calls “hate” under a new Tennessee law on bathroom access for transgender people. 

Gov. Bill Lee last week signed a bill making Tennessee the first state to require businesses and government facilities open to the public to post a sign if they let transgender people use multiperson bathrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms associated with their gender identity.

Opponents of the law call the bill discriminatory. LGBTQ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign said the signs would be “offensive and humiliating.”

“I believe every person is welcome and valued in Nashville. Enforcement of transphobic or homophobic laws is contrary to those values,” District Attorney General Glenn Funk said in a statement Monday. “My office will not promote hate.”

The required sign outside the public bathroom or other facility would say: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”

RELATED: ‘Looking to erase us’: Tennessee parents, advocates criticize Gov. Lee for anti-LGBTQ bills

MORE: ‘Why do they hate us so much?’: Frustration grows among transgender Tennesseans as bills targeting youth advance

It remains unclear how anyone would enforce the law. The bill does not include details on mandatory fines or penalties. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the law carries criminal penalties. 

RELATED: Tennessee bill mandating bathroom signs called ‘humiliating’ for transgender people

Nashville Mayor John Cooper also decried the bill, questioning last week the economic impact of the state taking a strong anti-trans stance. 

“This law is part of an anti-LGBT political platform of hate and division. One of the risks for Nashville is that the hostility inherent to these signs can be the equivalent of hanging up another sign — a ‘do not come here’ sign,” Cooper said in a statement. “We are an inclusive city, and that won’t change. But, unfortunately, we will be made vulnerable economically by this unwelcoming legislation.”

Lee, who in the past has had “concerns about business mandates,” demurred on Monday afternoon when asked whether Funk’s statement was appropriate.

“His decision will be his own,” Lee told reporters. “I signed the law and it’ll be his decision how he wants to respond to it.”

This is not the first time Funk has taken a stance against a conservative push from the state legislature. 

Last fall, he sided with reproductive rights advocates and abortion providers when they sued the state over a slate of strict anti-abortion laws passed last summer by Republicans. 

Funk and other local prosecutors were named as defendants because of their roles prosecuting criminal cases. Multiple court cases over the laws continue in federal court. 

“With regard to reproductive issues, the criminal law must not be used by the State to exercise control over a woman’s body,” Funk, a Democrat, wrote in a September filing, saying he “will not enforce” the law if it goes

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No charges for Tennessee officer

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A police officer who fatally shot 17-year-old Anthony J. Thompson Jr. in a chaotic confrontation inside a high school bathroom on April 12 will not face charges.

Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen said she will not charge officer Jonathon Clabough, who fired the shot that killed Thompson. Clabough also shot officer Adam Willson in the struggle.

“This is a self-defense case,” Allen said at a two-hour news conference. “At the end of the day, we have found the shooting by Officer Clabough was justified.”

Prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump announced Monday he is representing Thompson’s family.

“Once again, when a Black person is killed, in this case a Black child, the police quickly shape a narrative to justify the death,” said Crump in a statement issued on Twitter. 

In the days after the shooting, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released two differing accounts of what occurred, including an incorrect assertion that Thompson fired a shot that struck an officer. 

“The world was told that Anthony shot an officer and that’s why police fatally shot him,” Crump said.

April 21: North Carolina deputy fatally shot Black man while serving warrant, sheriff says

Allen showed bodycam video footage Wednesday following growing calls for the video to be released. After Allen announced her decision not to press charges, protestors gathered outside the Knoxville Police Department and the high school. 

The videos show a short but chaotic confrontation between the teen and Knoxville police officers inside the bathroom. In the end, Thompson is face-down on the floor and Willson is being pulled out the door. 

Allen said police went into the school’s bathroom to find Thompson after his girlfriend’s mother accused Thompson of beating her daughter at school. Thompson and his best friend were inside, each in separate stalls, though it’s not clear whether police knew that when they entered the bathroom.

Body camera footage revealed four officers wound up inside the bathroom: Clabough, officer Brian Baldwin, school resource officer Adam Willson and Lt. Stanley Cash. They surrounded Thompson, who was wearing a backpack, and began pulling him out of the stall.

Allen said Clabough saw a gun in the front pocket of Thompson’s hoodie “with Anthony Thompson’s hand” on the butt.

“He thinks, ‘I’m about to die,'” Allen said of the officer’s mindset.

Suddenly, Thompson’s gun fired. Baldwin immediately dropped away from Clabough’s view. Clabough mistakenly believed Baldwin had been shot so he fired, striking Thompson in the chest.

Allen said Clabough fired a second shot because he believed Thompson was about to shoot Cash. That shot, she said, struck Willson in the back of his thigh. Cash then climbed on top of Thompson, who was facedown on the floor and bleeding to death.

Allen said only 11 seconds elapsed between the time Clabough first saw the gun and when he shot

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Tennessee bathroom law sponsor now says it has penalties | National News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The sponsor of Tennessee’s new law requiring businesses and government facilities to post signs if they let transgender people use the bathrooms of their choice now says owners and officials who refuse could face up to six months in jail — a penalty that went unmentioned during legislative hearings and debate.

The question of who would do the enforcing remains murky as well.

Republican Rep. Tim Rudd, who sponsored the bathroom sign bill, said a class B misdemeanor could apply to those who won’t post the signs within 30 days of being warned they’re breaking the law. That seems to contradict what Rudd told fellow lawmakers in March. He said then that the bill version that would become law “does not provide any fines or penalties at this point.”

He has since argued that he was telling the truth because while the bill itself was silent about any penalty, it was inserted into a chapter of existing building code law that already penalizes a number of violations. This law broadly defines such violations as a class B misdemeanor for non-compliance with such things as smoke alarm requirements and air conditioning regulations. Such crimes are punishable by the jail time and a $500 maximum fine. The Chattanooga Times Free Press first reported on the criminal penalties.

The Tennessee law, approved with nearly all Republicans in both chambers in favor and almost all Democrats opposed, was signed by Gov. Bill Lee on May 17. It’s one of five new state laws this year that have drawn backlash from LGBTQ advocates, including the Human Rights Campaign, which decried the sign mandate as discriminatory and “offensive and humiliating.” The American Civil Liberties Union is recruiting businesses as possible plaintiffs in a likely lawsuit. The requirement begins July 1.

This week, Rudd said he did intend for the law to carry the criminal penalty and only “answered the question he was asked” during the committee meeting in March. When the AP asked him earlier this month about enforcement and penalties, Rudd did not mention the criminal penalties, saying district attorneys could ask a judge to force compliance and judges could seek “whatever judicial remedies the court deems appropriate” if a business won’t post the signs, or people could file civil lawsuits.

In the March committee meeting, Rudd also said there would be “no state department overseeing this right now because there is no fine” and said it would be possible “someone could press charges, then it would be up to a sheriff and a DA to investigate.”

“So all the questions I got — ‘does your bill provide any penalties?’ — well, no, it’s already in code. I wasn’t asked that question,” Rudd told The Associated Press.

Democratic Rep. Bill Beck, who asked Rudd about what penalties would exist, said he misled his fellow lawmakers.

“It was a misleading statement to the entire, full State Committee, some 20 representatives,” Beck, who opposed the bill, told the AP. “Very discouraging to pass

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Tennessee to mandate bathroom signs about transgender use | National News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee will become the first state in the United States to require businesses and government facilities open to the public to post a sign if they let transgender people use multiperson bathrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms associated with their gender identity.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Monday that represents a first-of-its-kind law, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group that decried the bill as discriminatory and said the required signs are “offensive and humiliating.” The law will go into effect July 1.

Lee, who is up for reelection next year, had previously been mum on whether he would sign the bill. Instead, he told reporters earlier this month that he always had “concerns about business mandates” but was still reviewing the bill.

Lee’s approval came just a few days after he signed legislation that puts public schools and their districts at risk of losing civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multiperson bathrooms or locker rooms that do not reflect their sex at birth. It was the first bill restricting bathroom use by transgender people signed in any state in about five years, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Lee also signed a different proposal this year that bars transgender athletes from playing girls public high school or middle school sports.

Republican statehouses have been awash in culture war legislation across the country this year, particularly focusing on the LGBT community. Tennessee has been the front lines on that fight, with civil rights advocates pointing out that only Texas has filed more anti-LGBT bills in the country.

Yet, to date, there has been no big, tangible repercussion where bills have passed targeting transgender people, unlike the swift backlash from the business community to North Carolina’s 2016 “bathroom bill.” In Tennessee, the bills are becoming law despite letters of opposition from prominent business interests.

According to the bill signed Monday, the required sign outside the public bathroom or other facility would say: “This facility maintains a policy of allowing the use of restrooms by either biological sex, regardless of the designation on the restroom.”

However, questions remain about how the law will be enforced and what, if any, consequences will stem from ignoring it. The law doesn’t spell out fines, penalties or any other mechanism to ensure the signs are put up when required.

Republican Rep. Tim Rudd, the bill’s sponsor, said no state department will oversee compliance with the law. Instead, Rudd said, local district attorneys could seek a court order to require a facility to post the sign. If an entity refused to comply, “it would open the door for whatever judicial remedies the court deems appropriate,” Rudd said.

Additionally, it’s possible that noncompliance could lead to civil liability, Rudd said.

“Whether you’re a man or woman, don’t you want to know who might be waiting on the other side of a bathroom door when you go in?” Rudd said in a statement. “Everyone has a

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Tennessee House OKs new transgender ‘bathroom bill’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee House lawmakers on Monday passed a bill that would put public schools and districts at risk of civil lawsuits if they let transgender students or employees use multi-person bathrooms or locker rooms that don’t reflect their gender at birth.

The proposal must now pass the Senate before it can head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk, with senators expected to vote on the proposal later this week. The bill is one of several LGTBQ-related measures that the GOP-controlled General Assembly have introduced this year that critics have slammed as discriminatory. Most notably, Lee, a Republican, signed a different proposal this year that bars transgender athletes from playing girls’ public high school or middle school sports.

Under the proposed measure — which passed 65-24 on Monday — a student or employee could sue in an effort to claim monetary damages “for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” if school officials allow a transgender person into the bathroom or locker room when others are in there, or if they require staying in the same sleeping quarters as a member of the opposite sex at birth, unless that person is a family member.

The proposal also says schools must try to offer a bathroom or changing facility that is single-occupancy or that is for employees if a student or employee “desires greater privacy when using a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility designated for the person’s sex” at birth.

Opponents of the bill, including business entities, point to North Carolina’s experience with the enactment of its 2016 version of a “bathroom bill,” which was signed by former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and in part required transgender people to use public bathrooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificate.

Several large corporations and sports leagues relocated events to other states or reconsidered expanding in North Carolina due to the law, which was partially repealed in 2017.

A federal judge eventually approved a consent decree in 2019 between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and transgender plaintiffs that affirms their right to use restrooms matching their gender identity in many public buildings.

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60 females recorded on hidden camera in Tennessee gym bathroom

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —An investigation into a camera set up in a girls’ changing facility has revealed 60 victims as of Thursday afternoon, police in Tennessee said. 

The GoPro camera — which was found hidden in a girls’ changing and restroom at Premier Athletics which offers training in cheerleading, dance and gymnastics — was reviewed by police after it was found last week. Sixty females, mostly minors, were recorded on the camera, police said. Two of the victims appear to have been partially undressed.

Detectives believe someone had been intermittently staging the camera to capture video in the restroom since September.

“The placement of a camera in such a private place is a violation of trust in its most extreme form,” Franklin Police Department spokesperson Lt. Charles Warner said. “This is terribly upsetting to parents and their children, and it is just as troubling to us. The department is working diligently to safeguard sensitive images, to help victims and their families cope and to prepare a solid criminal case for the courtroom.”

Working with facility management, detectives have identified 47 of the 60 victims and are in the process of notifying their parents. Detectives are working to identify the remaining 13 victims.

The girls’ changing and restroom at the center of this investigation is located inside the Premier Athletics suite. There is no current evidence to suggest that other restrooms or private areas in the multi-tenant facility were compromised, police said. 

Franklin Police Department detectives are examining other evidence seized as part of the investigation and expect to file multiple charges.

Once a suspect is formally charged, Franklin police will identify that person, the charges, bond amount and court date.

Premier Athletics has not responded to a request for comment.

Follow Emily West on Twitter at @emwest22. 

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CCAGW PAC Endorses Five Tennessee House Candidates

Today, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee (CCAGW PAC) announced its endorsement for Reps. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Mark Green (R-Tenn.), David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) and John Rose (R-Tenn.) for re-election.

CCAGW PAC based its endorsements on the candidates’ lifetime score in CCAGW’s 2019 Congressional Ratings.

All five candidates have exemplary lifetime ratings that have made them a lifetime “Taxpayer Hero.” Rep. Green has a lifetime rating of 99 percent, Rep. Rose has a lifetime rating of 97 percent, and Rep. Burchett has a lifetime rating of 96 percent all based on their first year in Congress. Rep. Kustoff has a lifetime rating of 93 percent. Rep. DesJarlais has a lifetime rating of 91 percent and was named a “Taxpayer Super Hero” with a perfect 100 percent rating in 2019.

“During their tenures in the House, Reps. Burchett, DesJarlais, Green, Kustoff, and Rose have been strong and reliable votes to curb government waste and reform Washington,” said CCAGW PAC Chairman Tom Schatz. “On top of their impressive voting records, they worked with their colleagues to enact and retain historic tax cuts, support deregulation, and help ignite America’s economic boom. I urge Tennesseans to re-elect them to Congress.”

CCAGW PAC is affiliated with the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, a 501(c)(4) organization. CCAGW PAC’s mission is to support political candidates who will fight to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in government and represent the best interests of taxpayers.

Paid for by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste Political Action Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201013005969/en/

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Alexandra Abrams (202) 467-5310
[email protected]

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House Democrats call for audit of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s ‘no-bid’ coronavirus spending

Tennessee House Democrats are now joining the political fight over coronavirus relief spending, following recent attacks on Nashville by Gov. Bill Lee and House Republican legislative leadership.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Tennessee State Capitol Monday, March 16, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.


© Alan Poizner / For The Tennessean
Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference in the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Tennessee State Capitol Monday, March 16, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

After Lee earlier this month denied Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s request for an $82 million portion of the state’s federal coronavirus relief funds — money that would be on top of $121 million the city already directly received from the federal government — House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, last week asked the state comptroller to review Nashville’s spending of COVID-19 stimulus dollars.

But on Tuesday, in a letter spearheaded by Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, half of the House Democratic Caucus requested from Comptroller Justin Wilson an audit of their own: looking at the Lee administration’s spending of federal coronavirus funds.

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In addition to billions of other dollars in earmarked COVID-19 stimulus funds, Tennessee received $2.3 billion in from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, which allows states and some cities broad flexibility in how the money is spent.

“Our sincere fiscal concerns stem from the Lee administration’s well-documented history of awarding no-bid contracts to vendors,” Clemmons wrote.

He cited the administration’s award of a $1.2 million annual contract with ClassWallet. Awarded before the pandemic, the agreement with the Florida-based company was reached outside of the state’s established procurement process. The state hired the company to administer Tennessee’s education savings account program.

Clemmons then referenced tens of millions of dollars in expenditures using coronavirus relief funds, including more than $8 million in a no-bid contract to North Carolina-based sock company Renfro. Tennessee hired the company to produce 5 million masks that would be distributed to citizens.

He listed other contracts for personal protective equipment that have raised eyebrows as well, including one with a furniture company owned by state Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, previously reported by NewsChannel 5.

“Fair questions about political connections and favoritism to supporters have been raised about the reasons for Gov. Lee’s highly suspect business dealings on behalf of our state,” Clemmons wrote. “Whether Governor Bill Lee is simply guilty of fiscal mismanagement and/or administrative incompetence or whether he has abused his broad emergency powers to enrich political allies and donors with no-bid state contracts are questions worthy of investigation.

“At the very least, the people of Tennessee deserve to know how, where, and why their hard-earned tax dollars were spent and to whom they were paid.”

Under Tennessee’s state of emergency, which has been in effect due to the pandemic since March, Lee by law has been authorized to make purchases without following the usual bidding process.

The governor has defended the state’s use of the emergency, no-bid procurement process, saying the state needed to make recent purchases quickly.

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Tennessee Democrats want audit of Gov. Bill Lee’s COVID-19 spending

Tennessee House Democrats are now joining the political fight over coronavirus relief spending, following recent attacks on Nashville by Gov. Bill Lee and House Republican legislative leadership.

After Lee earlier this month denied Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s request for an $82 million portion of the state’s federal coronavirus relief funds — money that would be on top of $121 million the city already directly received from the federal government — House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, last week asked the state comptroller to review Nashville’s spending of COVID-19 stimulus dollars.

But on Tuesday, in a letter spearheaded by Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, half of the House Democratic Caucus requested from Comptroller Justin Wilson an audit of their own: looking at the Lee administration’s spending of federal coronavirus funds.

In addition to billions of other dollars in earmarked COVID-19 stimulus funds, Tennessee received $2.3 billion in from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, which allows states and some cities broad flexibility in how the money is spent.

“Our sincere fiscal concerns stem from the Lee administration’s well-documented history of awarding no-bid contracts to vendors,” Clemmons wrote.

He cited the administration’s award of a $1.2 million annual contract with ClassWallet. Awarded before the pandemic, the agreement with the Florida-based company was reached outside of the state’s established procurement process. The state hired the company to administer Tennessee’s education savings account program.

Clemmons then referenced tens of millions of dollars in expenditures using coronavirus relief funds, including more than $8 million in a no-bid contract to North Carolina-based sock company Renfro. Tennessee hired the company to produce 5 million masks that would be distributed to citizens.

He listed other contracts for personal protective equipment that have raised eyebrows as well, including one with a furniture company owned by state Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, previously reported by NewsChannel 5.

“Fair questions about political connections and favoritism to supporters have been raised about the reasons for Gov. Lee’s highly suspect business dealings on behalf of our state,” Clemmons wrote. “Whether Governor Bill Lee is simply guilty of fiscal mismanagement and/or administrative incompetence or whether he has abused his broad emergency powers to enrich political allies and donors with no-bid state contracts are questions worthy of investigation.

“At the very least, the people of Tennessee deserve to know how, where, and why their hard-earned tax dollars were spent and to whom they were paid.”

Under Tennessee’s state of emergency, which has been in effect due to the pandemic since March, Lee by law has been authorized to make purchases without following the usual bidding process.

The governor has defended the state’s use of the emergency, no-bid procurement process, saying the state needed to make recent purchases quickly.

His office did not immediately respond to a request about the Democrats’ call for an audit

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Tennessee House leadership calls for review of Nashville’s use of COVID-19 relief funds

Republican leadership in the Tennessee House has asked the state comptroller to conduct a “thorough review” of Nashville’s management of $131 million in state and federal COVID-19 relief funding.



a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone


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In response to Nashville’s lagging economic recovery and anticipating additional requests for state aid from the state’s budget next year, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, and 10 other House Republicans sent Comptroller Justin Wilson a letter Friday, asking him to review the city’s use of federal relief funds.

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“In Tennessee, we do let locals do what they need to do, but we’re not here to write a blank check and go into a partnership blind,” Sexton said in an interview with The Center Square. “So we are asking the comptroller to give us some thorough review of where their spending has been.”

Sexton called out Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s restrictive economic policies that have prevented many businesses from fully reopening after mandatory pandemic-related shutdowns.

“When he’s saying that business is what keeps this economy thriving and growing, and they need businesses to be open, it calls into question why he shut down Nashville for as long as he has, and why it’s the worst performing city in America right now, and why it’s the worst performing county in our state right now,” Sexton said.

The letter noted that of the more than 19,000 local governments in the country, only 36 municipalities were provided direct federal COVID-19 relief. Sexton said Cooper’s request for additional funding from the state earlier this month raised questions about how the city used the significant funding it already received.

“They had $121 million coming from the federal government, we gave them 10 additional million – so that’s $130 million. They said they needed another $82 million from the state. And then on top of that, they’re raising taxes about 34%, potentially,” Sexton said.

Gov. Bill Lee denied the city’s request for an additional $82 million in state funding last week.

In response to House leadership’s request, Cooper’s office said Nashville is ready for the comptroller’s review.

“We welcome the comptroller’s audit,” Chris Song, a spokesperson from Cooper’s office told The Center Square, praising the work of Metro’s COVID-19 Financial Oversight Committee.

“Nashville’s direct CARES Act allocation has been spent directly on our COVID-19 emergency response and responsibly allocated to address the greatest need in our community, helping struggling Nashvillians keep food on their tables and roofs over their families’ heads, providing our residents with job placement assistance, and supporting our small businesses during the sharpest and most sudden recession in our lifetimes,” Song said.

Cooper outlined how the city has spent the federal funds in his letter requesting additional funds from the state earlier this month. According to Cooper, the city has spent $51.3 million on mass COVID-19 testing operations in the city, labor costs and hazard pay for more than 3,000 critical infrastructure employees and personal protective equipment.

Additionally, the city spent $24

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