Today, House Speaker Kent Williams, at the urging of House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner, asked Blake Graves to resign his position as an employee of the Tennessee House of Representatives for using his state email account to send an inappropriate and offensive email.

“I am saddened to see another incident like this, but I welcome this swift, decisive action by Speaker Williams and Democratic Caucus Chair Turner. They have sent the unequivocal message that, going forward, this sort of offensive behavior by employees of the State of Tennessee will not be tolerated,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester said.

Blake Graves, a member of the College Republicans, worked for Rep. Karen Camper (D – Memphis) at the time of his resignation.

“Mr. Graves was by all accounts a fine employee, but unfortunately, he made a serious error in judgment that cost him his job. We hope that he learns from this and makes better choices in the future.”

Our state’s Constitution grants Tennesseans the right ‘to assemble together for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances.’ When officers of the General Assembly communicate in a manner that excludes African-Americans, Asian-Americans, the disabled, and the elderly, it creates the atmosphere where these Tennesseans do not feel welcome to participate in our government. That’s why these emails are a serious problem.”

“I only wish that Senate Republicans, led by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Sen. Diane Black, would have the same courage and presence of mind as the House leadership,” Forrester said. “As I stated Monday, there is a pervasive pattern of racist behavior condoned by Republican leadership in Tennessee, especially directed at President Barack Obama.”

“At a time when Tennessee is facing a budget deficit, Republicans are sending offensive emails about our Commander-in-Chief paid for by taxpayer dollars and joining frivolous lawsuits that question his citizenship.”

“Meanwhile, the Republicans’ idea of a solution to nearly 10% unemployment is a budget that slashes job creation, alternative energy development, mental health services, and even prenatal care. When the Tennessee people look back on this legislative session, they will be disappointed by Republican stewardship of their tax dollars.”

“Finally, I see no effort on the part of Tennessee Republican leadership to make a break with their history of racist and offensive behavior. It’s embarrassing for all Tennesseans and it has to end today.”

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