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Ethics committee votes to expel Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:43 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Efforts to remove a Tennessee state senator took a step forward after an ethics committee vote.

With a 4-1 vote, the Tennessee Senate Ethics Committee has voted to recommend State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) be expelled due to her conviction on federal fraud charges.

Next, the recommendation goes to the Senate floor for review.

Senator Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) is the sole senator who voted against the recommendation. She argued the behavior the committee was discussing happened prior to Robinson being elected to the legislature.

That coupled with the fact that 46 of her 48 charges were dropped and that anything could happen before that final conviction notice is signed.

“I feel given everything we have here, it feels premature for us to take action and that’s just based on it’s not final yet,” said Akbari.

Robinson, who is awaiting sentencing in March on two federal fraud charges, expressed concerns about not having council present.

“This is a public hearing and we are reviewing conduct that for one, isn’t decided in the court of public law and for two, I still have an open pending case,” Robinson said. “And so I don’t know if that’s the best thing to do without representation being here on my part, sir.”

Robinson’s charges stem from the mismanagement of federal funds for her nursing school, The Healthcare Institute.

The committee voted along party lines Thursday.

“It’s the citizens’ money and we are here in a place of great honor and respect as well as dignity, representing them,” said Senator John Stevens (R-Huntington). “And it’s a very serious nature of defrauding the people of their money and their goods for our own benefit.”

Meanwhile, groups like the Memphis chapter of the NAACP and the Shelby County Democratic Caucus signed a letter in support of Robinson.

All committee members and senators have been instructed by the committee chair not to talk about this vote.

As for what’s next, the lieutenant governor and chief clerk will determine a date and notify Robinson. It will be made public.

Robinson will then face a vote on the Senate floor.

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