Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

bill lee headshot web.jpg

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has asked embattled state Rep. David Byrd not to run for re-election, News4 has learned.

State Rep. David Byrd

State Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro (Photo: Tennessee General Assembly)

Senior administrative officials confirmed the Lee had asked Byrd, R-Waynesboro, not to run for re-election next year.

Byrd has been the subject of a series of News4 Investigates stories about his alleged relationships with three former girls basketball players while he was their coach at Wayne County High School.

In a cell phone video posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Anna Grabowski started talking to Lee as he was entering an event in Decatur, TN.

Gov. Lee Cellphone Video Byrd

After small talk, Grabowski asked Lee “Will you get the child molester out of the legislature right away, David Byrd? Get him out of there?”

“That’s gonna happen soon,” Lee replied before entering the Boys and Girls Club.

"I thought he was answering me about David Byrd. And I was glad to hear it," Grabowski told News4 Investigates.

In the video, Grabowski told Lee that Byrd should be removed immediately along with embattled House Speaker Glen Casada, just before she was moved away from speaking to the governor by a member of his staff.

The staff member could be heard on video telling Grabowski "I'm sorry ma'am" as the governor was escorted inside.

"I'm a citizen of this county, sir, you don't need to knock me out of the way. Nobody can talk to them unless they agree, is that the deal?" said Grabowski.

Lee's team guarded him more heavily as he left the event, Grabowski recorded another video of her shouting to him to "Get Casada out now!" Lee was escorted to a vehicle and did not acknowledge her.

She did tweet after her encounter that it was 'good to know' that Byrd would be gone soon but did not understand why Casada was allowed to stay an extra two months. She blamed Lee's team from allowing her to ask that question to him.

A senior communications aide to Lee reached out to News4 Wednesday morning, noting the video did not show the entire interaction, and therefore could be taken out of context. 

Laine Arnold, Lee's spokeswoman, then released a statement reading, "As the governor entered a crowded event, questions were shouted at him that he understood to be about Speaker Casada and he responded accordingly. His position on Rep. Byrd continues to be that it is past time for the representative to respond to allegations.”

News4 Investigates asked Grabowski if it was possible that the Governor didn't understand her.

"No, it wasn't at all in question. Because I said nothing other than are you going to get the child molestor David Byrd out," Grabowski said.

Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, has said she had planned to sign a resolution to expel Byrd from the state legislature that could be heard at next month’s special session to choose a new House Speaker after Casada steps down.

Johnson said she would sign the resolution on Thursday.

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