Senate Institutional Review Board recommends expulsion of Senator Katrina Robinson prior to Senate voting

Katrina Robinson speaks at a press conference after being convicted of wire fraud in Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

Katrina Robinson speaks at a press conference after being convicted of wire fraud in Memphis, Tennessee on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

The Senate Ethics Board ruled on Thursday that Senator Katrina Robinson of D-Memphis violated the Senate’s Code of Ethics and recommended her expulsion for being convicted of federal fraud.

Robinson will face a full Senate vote based on the Commission’s recommendations.

Senators are waiting for the March verdict of two federal fraud charges related to mismanagement of federal funds related to nursing school leaders. Robinson’s criminal trial focused on cases that occurred before he was elected to the state legislature in 2018.

Following the Commission’s vote, Robinson said he was “surprised” at Thursday’s process.

Robinson demanded a postponement so that her lawyer could join her, and the Senator constantly claimed that her federal proceedings were not over despite her conviction. A federal judge blew up charges against Robinson from 20 to 5 during the trial and earlier this month. Robinson was acquitted in two of the four accusations that the jury convicted last fall.

Her decision is scheduled for March.

“We haven’t completed legal proceedings yet, and we’ve seen how the proceedings proceeded,” Robinson said. “I think in itself guarantees that this body is patient with the process. What is in a hurry? You have to ask what is in a hurry.”

Related: Senator Katrina Robinson of Tennessee convicted of federal fraud trial

Robinson said her lawyer was “considering” a motion for retrial in a federal proceeding for “new developments,” but no motion was filed.

Randy McNally, Deputy Governor R-Oakridge, suggested that Robinson should voluntarily resign according to the Commission’s findings.

“The Senate Institutional Review Board held a fair and cautious hearing on complaints against Senator Robinson,” McNally said in a statement. “They considered not only her explicit legal status, but also the ethical and moral failure to accuse her.

“The Commission found that the accusation against her violated the Senate’s Code of Ethics and demanded expulsion,” McNally said. “Dismissing Senator under these circumstances is a very serious and historically unprecedented step. This is not something we downplay. Senator Robinson reflects the Commission’s findings. And continue to choose to voluntarily resign for the best interests of the Senate. “

Delay requested

Robinson first requested a postponement of the inquiry earlier this week after being informed that the Commission had found a possible reason to hold the inquiry on Friday.

The Tennessee Legislature’s Black Caucus, NAACP Memphis Branch, and Shelby County Democratic Legislative Caucus submitted a letter to the Institutional Review Board on Wednesday calling for a postponement of the hearing until a “final” court ruling in Robinson’s federal proceedings. rice field.

Related: Tennessee Senator Katrina Robinson was acquitted on two charges of wire fraud. Two left

The Commission voted in line with the party’s policy to deny Robinson’s request on Thursday, and Senator Laumesh Akbari of D-Memphis voted to postpone the hearing. Senator John Stevens, R-Hunting Don; Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin. Senator Steve Southerland, R-Morristown; and Senator Ferrel Heile of R-Gallatin voted to discover that Robinson was in breach of Senate ethics.

After a brief adjournment to review the Commission’s proceedings, the Commission voted again in line with party policy to recommend expulsion of Robinson if the Senate admitted that he had committed an ethical violation. Did.

“The trial is on the Senate floor, and the agency is here just to make systemic recommendations,” Stevens said. “You have the opportunity to give advice to the floor. That’s appropriate.”

However, Robinson questioned the impartiality of the Institutional Review Board.

Robinson told reporters, “Can we expect a fair hearing to be held in front of a committee of four Republicans and one Democrat? Four men and one female. White. Four men and one black female. ” “Previously, there should have been as many or as many Democrats as Republicans on the Institutional Review Board,” he said.

It is unclear when the Senate can consider the Commission’s recommendations.

“Given the seriousness of this, we strongly recommend that a colleague prepare and give enough time to make sure her lawyer is here,” Akbari told the committee. I asked Robinson to give enough notice before giving enough notice. Senate. “We really want this to be the fairest process possible.”

Robinson proceedings

Robinson was acquitted of two indictments after being convicted of four indictments last fall, but a federal judge in January dismissed the motion for a new trial.

In September 2021, a federal jury convicted Robinson of four charges of wire fraud in connection with nursing school leadership and the management of funds from federal grants. Robinson was initially charged with over $ 600,000 in mismanagement of federal funds for scholarships and faced 48 charges.

When the case was brought to trial in September 2021, the charges were reduced to 20 counts, 15 of which were dismissed by Judge Lippmann. Robinson was convicted of four charges related to less than $ 3,500, and prosecutors said Robinson used it to pay for the wedding.

Earlier this month, Lippmann acquitted Robinson on two of these charges, and found insufficient evidence to prove that prosecutors had deliberately tampered with Healthcare Institute records.

Mr Akbari said Thursday that he felt the Commission’s actions were premature before the final ruling, given that the prosecution’s 48 proceedings had dropped to two.

Akbari said judging the actions of lawmakers before the election without a final criminal case could also be a “slippery slope.”

“There are two more left. Something could happen before the final conviction notice is signed,” Akbari said. “Therefore, I still don’t think it’s right for us to move forward.”

Due to the second federal fraud, Robinson agreed to launch a pre-trial detour program.

Robinson is not the only Senator of Shelby County facing legal issues. Senator Brian Kelsey of R-Germantown will continue to attend the General Assembly while preparing for a federal trial on alleged election funding breaches in a plot to enrich the failure of parliamentary bids in 2016. ..

Kelsey, who denied the misconduct, was scheduled to meet with the jury in January, but last month demanded a postponement of the trial, which is now scheduled for January 2023.

Contact Melissa Brown at [email protected]

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This article was originally published in the Memphis Commercial Appeal: Commission recommends expulsion of Senator Katrina Robinson from Memphis