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UPDATE: Tennessee's largest newspaper says House Speaker may not be a legal resident of his district
On Wednesday morning, the Tennessean, the state's largest newspaper, published a lengthy article examining the implications of Popular Information's reporting about House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R). This month, Popular Information broke the news that Sexton secretly bought a $600,000 home in Nashville in September 2021, even though he represents Crossville, a community two hours away. Popular Information also established that Sexton downsized his four-bedroom Crossville home to a much small condo and enrolled his child in a Nashville area school.
The Tennessean confirmed all of this reporting. And it also sought out a legal expert with more than 40 years of experience, attorney David Raybin, to weigh in on the implications of these revelations. Raybin said, considering all the facts, he was not certain that Sexton was still a legal resident of Crossville. “I’m not going to render an opinion” about whether Sexton now legally resides in Nashville, Raybin said. “But I will say it’s a close question.”
The story also notes that "[c]andidates who are not qualified voters in their district could face legal challenges before an election" or "immediately after an election." Raybin's analysis aligns with what another experienced Tennessee attorney, John Spragens, told Popular Information. "Residency for voting purposes involves several factors, but someone could easily conclude that Sexton is living in Nashville," Spragens said.
All of this has put Sexton on the defensive. He told the Crossville Chronicle, the paper of record in the community he represents, that "[w]hen session ends, we’re back almost as quickly as it’s over." He is trying to leave the impression that he is only away from Crossville during the legislative session, which is false. The legislative session in Tennessee only lasts four months — from mid-January to the end of April.
As Popular Information reported on April 10, Sexton does spend some weekdays in the summer in Crossville, but his child is enrolled in school in the Nashville area. He owns a luxury home in the Nashville area, and Tennessee investigative journalist Phil Williams reported that Sexton said, "he has to be in Nashville so often that it's easier to have his family here."