Oct. 18, 2018 -- When questioned during the second debate over his mishandling of sexual harassment claims, Phil Bredesen said, “it does not comport to the facts. The individual who performed these acts was gone the next day from the Governor's Office.”
He doubled down on that lie in an interview with the Citizen Tribune (emphasis added):
“It’s a reckless, absurd charge,” Bredesen said last Friday at Stan’s BBQ of the cover-up allegations. “[The pair involved] came back from a trip on a bus with somebody, and he basically assaulted — what was certainly called assault — a woman on the bus.”
Bredesen said he spoke with the woman in question and then Cooper the next day in 2005, when the assault happened. He decided “she was absolutely correct,” and said that Cooper “was gone within 24-hours.”
Cooper underwent treatment for “workplace harassment and misuse of alcohol” after the incident in 2005 and never returned to a government position on Bredesen’s administration.
This is a blatant lie. HERE ARE THE FACTS as reported by the Associated Press and The Tennessean from the time (emphasis added):
Bredesen claimed there was nothing to cover up, but admitted he couldn't prove it because documents had been shredded: “Bredesen, in the AP interview, said that he believed the shredding was legal. ‘There's nothing to be covered up here,’ he said. He also acknowledged, ‘I don't have any way of proving that to you.’” (The Tennessean, 5/21/05)
- Cooper was placed on leave with pay, not fired as Bredesen implies: “Mack Cooper, the governor's senior adviser for legislation and policy, was placed on administrative leave with pay Monday for up to 60 days and his salary was reduced to $82,400 a year from $101,268. During his leave, Cooper has agreed to seek counseling on workplace harassment and the misuse of alcohol.” (The Associated Press, 5/9/05)
- Bredesen considered returning Cooper to a state position: “After Cooper completes the counseling, the governor said he would consider returning him to a position in state government. But he will not return to the governor's staff or any senior management positions, and any future job would be at a lower rank and pay. (The Associated Press, 5/9/05)
- Cooper did not formally resign until 3 months after the accusation was raised: “The former lobbyist for Gov. Phil Bredesen whose workplace case led to new harassment policies for all state workers has resigned from state government.” (The Tennessean, 8/27/05)
- Cooper was hired back into Bredesen's administration in 2008: “A top lobbyist for Gov. Phil Bredesen who was demoted for workplace harassment three years ago has been rehired by a former administration colleague at the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, a state agency long accused of patronage hiring. Robert ‘Mack’ Cooper was hired Aug. 6 as a policy adviser to TRA Director Mary Freeman. He will make $87,948 annually… Cooper's hiring comes as the state is shedding 1,500 workers who have agreed to voluntary buyouts - part of a $468 million budget cut for this year caused by the weakening economy. (The Tennessean, 8/14/08)
- Bredesen never confirmed whether Cooper's harassment was of a sexual nature: "The governor and his office never explicitly spelled out what Cooper had been accused of doing, or expressly stated that the type of harassment was sexual.” (The Tennessean, 8/14/08)
"Tennesseans can see the truth spelled out: Cooper wasn’t just accused of harassment, he was accused of assault. Bredesen recognized it as such put had investigation notes shredded that would have exposed his top lobbyist's misdeeds. Rather than reporting the assault to the police, Phil Bredesen sent that aide on a paid vacation. Then, he got that same aide a position within state government. Phil Bredesen can't have it both ways." -- Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden
And now, groups supporting Phil are trying to trivialize sexual assault.
The facts don't change, but Phil Bredesen's story does. The facts don’t lie, but Phil Bredesen does.