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Rep. Campfield calls Sen. Harper comment 'a little over the top'

Tennessee State Capitol
Tennessee State Capitol
Mark T. Engler

State Rep. Stacey Campfield described criticism directed at him during a legislative oversight meeting by Sen. Thelma Harper as "a little over the top."

Harper was unhappy with Campfield for limiting lawmakers’ questioning during a State and Local Government subcommittee examination of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Campfield, who chairs the panel, was about to wrap up the meeting when the Nashville Democrat alerted him that she had a matter she wanted to take up with ABC Executive Director Danielle Elks.

As Harper was about to speak, Campfield, R-Knoxville, interjected that he’d “give (her) the same thing, ten minutes” that he’d previously said was the limit for other lawmakers sitting in on the hearing who weren’t regular committee members.

“Well, you can give all you want, that’s fine with me,” Harper responded. “But just realize that your constituents sent you here to serve and mine did too, so all these limitations and things…you’re treating us like less than elected officials, and you want to put nooses around our necks to keep us from talking.”

Later, Campfield told that Harper’s reproach caught him off guard.

“A little over the top, don’t you think?” said Campfield. “I was like, ‘OK, you’re not even on the committee.’ But I just let her go off on her little rant.”

“Other people have told me she’s done that kind of stuff before,” he added.

Harper said later she was offended "that they try to limit the questions that you can ask, and the time for the responses."

She offered no apologies. “I said what I had to say, and that was appropriate for the way he conducted the meeting. I gave him my expressions.”

Harper's question for ABC dealt with a federal lawsuit over direct-to-consumer wine sales in Tennessee. Her questions and the responses by commission director Elks took just under five minutes.


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