Eight GOP County Chairs Want State Legislators to Come Back to Check Bill Lee’s Powers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Bill Lee

By Chris Butler  | an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.

GOP officials from eight Tennessee counties sent a letter to Gov. Bill Lee Monday pleading with him to repeal all restrictions on businesses and gatherings of any kind after the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the letter, they also asked Lee to end the state legislature’s current recess.

Coffee County GOP Chair Richard Brooks, one of the eight co-signers, told The Tennessee Star Monday that state legislators, once they return, will “do the work of the people.”

“Yes, [if legislators come back] they will talk about making more laws, but, also, it’s a check on the governor’s power and authority during this emergency proclamation that he’s made,” Brooks said.

“Our system of government is set up so that no one person has ultimate power and authority. So, at this point, the governor’s authority during a declared state of emergency just gives some kind of carte blanche rulership over the state. What we want is to go in the direction of ‘open the state back up, lead from the front, and let the legislators do their job being a separate body of government.’”

Lee’s staff members did not return a request for comment Monday.

Maury County GOP Chair Jason Whatley, meanwhile, said Tennessee’s rural counties deserve to have a voice in how state officials respond to COVID-19.

“We are of the opinion that the people are smart enough to make these decisions on our own and that we have missed the boat when it comes to everything about the shutdowns. We are accepting the word of the government as being the final word as if they have a lock on all knowledge,” Whatley told The Star.

“When did we as Americans exit off the ramp of liberty and believe that is just the way it is? Especially when you are talking about governmental policies that curtail or completely dismantle your basic civil liberties?”

In their letter, the eight co-signers told Lee that they believe he has done the best he could during this emergency.

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