With two Democrats ready to challenge his reelection this year, state Rep. Rob Briley tried to begin his political rehabilitation today, standing before the state House to apologize for his wild drunken escapades, and his colleagues responded with a rousing ovation, hugs and pats on the back.
Here are excerpts from the Nashville Democrat’s remarks to the House:
“While it is somewhat difficult for me to stand here today I welcome the opportunity to do so. I have made some notes … but mostly I just want to speak from the heart. … Last year I did some things that I’m not proud of. And I think most of you all know what I’m talking about. In fact my behavior at times was nothing short of irresponsible and reckless.
“Fortunately, I’ve been able to grow and change from that experience in a way that I believe God sees fit for me today. I’m not going to get into the details of what happened last year. That has been reported frequently enough by my friends in the media. And there’s no need to revisit those facts today. There is one fact that I do want to mention this morning. I’m an alcoholic. I’m neither proud of that fact or ashamed of it. It’s just a fact and I’ve had to deal with that disease my entire adult life. Many of you have gotten to see the face of alcoholism that lives inside me at many times and I’m not proud of that either. Sometimes I wish I could blame all my problems and my behaviors on alcoholism but I should not, could not and I will not do that. I committed those acts, that was my behavior and I’ve taken responsibility for it. I can’t blame it on my alcoholism. …
“In short, members of the House, there’s I no fancy way for me to say this to you. I’m sorry and I thank you. … I’m sorry that I have embarrassed you in any way. Mostly however, I’m sorry for the damage and harm that I have caused this great institution. Today I stand before you and humbly ask for your forgiveness. I also want to say thank you for the thoughts and prayers that everytone has shown me over the past couple of months. I’m living proof that prayer works. …
“There is nothing I can say here in this well that will make amends for the things that I’ve done. That can only be done by my actions, my actions in the days and weeks to come as I try to regain your confidence.”
When Briley finished, House members cheered and embraced him, then rose one after the other in support, spouting Bible verses and folksy wisdom. A sampling:
Rep. Kent Williams, Republican from Elizabethton: “A lot of times as politicians we are so quick to criticize basically for political reasons. I would remind all of our members before we criticize anyone in any situation, let us go back to the scripture that says he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
Rep. Gary Moore, Democrat from Nashville: “Rob Briley, I do forgive you for what I don’t know. I don’t think you’ve done anything to any of us … Everyone of us in this room have our own little demons that we deal with. Some of us are alcoholics, some of us are thieves, some of us are adulterers. The truth of the matter is … we are made up of society.”
Rep. Charles Curtiss, Democrat from Sparta: “ All things work for the good of those who love the Lord. No matter how terrible it is, God can make something good come of it.”
House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, Democrat from Covington: “Rob mentioned the video that he’s not proud of. I happen to know that Rob’s right arm was severely broken before any of that took place. If you saw that from my eyes, I knew why he was grimacing. It was because of the intense pain he was in and then they cuffed him and put his arm behind him and with that broken arm I can tell you I knew how much that was hurting. Everything you saw was not exactly as you saw it on that video. We love you Rob."