Image Credit: Cameron Sexton / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –
After participating in efforts to expel three Democrat representatives for disorderly conduct on the House floor recently, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville-District 25) is now under media fire for possibly violating election laws outlined in Tennessee Code.
Last week, Reporter Judd Legum of Popular Information released a series of articles questioning whether Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton actually lives in the district he represents.
These articles were followed up by short-form videos on the topic posted to Popular Information’s TikTok account.
Sexton has been accused of not actually living in Crossville as a representative for District 25, but of instead residing in Nashville full-time. If these accusations are true, Sexton could be illegally representing Crossville.
Tennessee attorney John Spragens stated, “He’s not the first speaker to do that – just the first to expel members while his own house is not in order.”
Allegations like this were bound to come up with the Tennessee legislature being heavily scrutinized because of their behavior in the aftermath of a school shooting in Nashville last month.
Legum alleges that although Sexton supported expulsion of “The Tennessee Three” for violating rules of decorum, he himself “may be in violation of the fundamental rules of the legislature” in accordance with Article II, Section 5a of the Tennessee State Constitution which states that “Each district shall be represented by a qualified voter of that district.”
This means Sexton could also be in violation of Tennessee election laws regarding determination of residency outlined in Tennessee Code § 2-2-122.
On an archive of the Tennessee General Assembly’s website which Legum calls Sexton’s “official website,” the Speaker’s home address is listed as 186 Homestead Drive, a four-bedroom home in Crossville.
According to public property and tax records, Sexton actually sold that property back in October 2020, before purchasing a far smaller two-bedroom condo in Crossville.
To The Tennessee Conservative’s knowledge, Sexton has only claimed to still live in Crossville and has not specifically claimed to currently reside on Homestead Drive. In fact, the aforementioned condo was listed as his place of residence when he filed for reelection in 2022.
While downsizing on the housing front is not anything extraordinary, this does not seem to be the reasoning for Sexton’s condo purchase.
Reportedly, Sexton and his wife Lacey secretly purchased a second home in West Nashville for close to $600,000 in September of 2021 through the establishment of an anonymous trust titled the Beccani Trust.
Cameron Sexton’s name does not seem to appear on the related documents. However, his wife’s signature appears on the property deed as an “affiant.”
Legum explains that while Lacey Sexton’s signature is not printed out on the documents, the signature matches the one she used to sign her husband’s nominating petition when he was running for reelection in 2022.
All of this despite Tennessee Code § 2-2-122 clearly stating that “there can be only one (1) residence.”
Additionally, the lender associated with the purchase of the Nashville home is the Crossville branch of One Bank of Tennessee where Sexton works in Business Development and sits on the Board of Directors.
Of course, the purchase of property in Nashville does not automatically mean Sexton and his family are taking up residence outside of his district, but here’s the kicker, the Speaker’s youngest child is currently enrolled year-round in a Nashville school.
Again, this information does not contrast well with TN Code § 2-2-122 which says, “The place where a married person’s spouse and family have their habitation is presumed to be the person’s place of residence.”
Allegations regarding misuse of taxpayer funds were also brought up with Popular Information claiming that while Sexton is living in Nashville, he is still receiving the higher per diem rate allocated to legislators living farther away from the Capitol.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that Tennessee’s 2022 per diem rate for legislators residing within 50 miles of the Capitol was $61/day and for legislators residing more than 50 miles from the Capitol it was $295/day.
Sexton has also been accused of falsely claiming dollars for mileage incurred while traveling from Crossville to Nashville and back for legislative business.
Per diem reports show that he has claimed higher mileage rates in years past but in 2023 has only collected reimbursement dollars for the 12-mile roundtrip to the Capitol from his Nashville home.
Consequently enough, this information only seems to prove that Sexton is currently living at his Nashville property.
Chief Investigative Reporter for Nashville’s Channel 5 News, Phil Williams, reported that Sexton argues, “as Speaker, he has to be in Nashville so often that it’s easier to have his family here.”
According to Williams, Sexton defended himself by citing another part of TN Code § 2-2-122 which states that “a person does not gain or lose residence solely by reason of the person’s presence or absence while employed in this service of […] this state.”
As with many political scandals, the whole ordeal seems to display a severe lack of transparency. If Sexton’s actions regarding residency and claiming a higher per diem rate are defendable and do not violate Tennessee statute, why has there been such a lack of transparency with the people he is supposed to represent?
The Tennessee Conservative did reach out to Speaker Sexton for comment on this subject matter but has yet not heard anything back.
About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Adelia at email@example.com.