By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post
A state representative from Wilson County was named as chair of a committee Thursday by the man she said sexually harassed her about two years ago.
State Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Lebanon, was named chair of the House of Representatives Government Operations Committee by new Speaker of the House Kent Williams. She is the only Republican to be named chair of a committee that has more Democrats as members – seven – than Republicans with six.
Williams also named State Rep. Stratton Bone, D-Lebanon, to serve as chair of the House Agriculture Committee, a panel he has served on either as a member or an officer since he was first elected.
In a story widely reported this week, Lynn alleged in 2007 that Williams made an inappropriate comment to her that was heard by others and later inappropriately hugged her. While no official complaint was filed at the time, she did inform Republican Caucus Leader Jason Mumpower of the incident who kept a record of what was said.
“I truly know I haven’t done anything wrong,” Lynn said yesterday. “I never wanted this to be public.”
Lynn said “this incident was well known by the media two years ago. I was grateful then that out of deference to me they left the story alone.”
She said she is not filing an ethics complaint against Williams, however, another state representative, Brian Kelsey of Germantown, has filed one against the new speaker noting that Williams’ denial of the event implied that Lynn was not truthful about the incident. Kelsey, in his complaint, asks that Williams be removed as speaker while the matter is investigated and also asks that he be stripped of the position and that a recommendation be made regarding whether to expel him from his seat.“There were just so many witnesses to the event,” Lynn said, adding she could not imagine the Ethics Committee not taking up the matter.
She has said she did not know at the time that Mumpower kept a file of the incident including what she told him, the meeting that occurred between him, Lynn and Williams where he reportedly apologized, but she understood why Mumpower had to take the action that he did.
“He had to record that this incident happened. I don’t blame him for recording it,” she said.Since the story was first reported, Lynn noted “most of the calls and emails have been supportive” of her.
“It’s a no-win situation,” she said, adding that was why she wanted to keep it private.
Bone said the Ag panel is “a committee that does things to draw attention to agriculture in the state and that’s important.”Bone said Williams promised to divide committees equally between both parties and he did that, calling him “fair” in his decisions.
Staff Writer Connie Esh contributed to this article.
Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.