House Government Operations Committee Chairman Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, tells Tom Humphrey he appointed Shipley to show support for him while he's under TBI investigation. "I have full confidence in Tony," Cobb said.
House Speaker Beth Harwell, meanwhile, is taking a powder (as usual). In an email, she says: "It has been my policy that the appointment of the chairs for the subcommittees is at the discretion of Chairman Cobb, and I support his decisions."
To pressure the nursing board in the last session, Shipley held up legislation to reauthorize the agency. Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, who also is under investigation, introduced a bill to curtail the board's power.
Shipley has been kooky since he arrived in Nashville three years ago. You might recall he kicked off his legislative career by threatening God's wrath against gay people. Then he tried to shred the Fourth Amendment to allow Tennessee to launch top-secret missions against all the terrorists in our midst. Press wags have dubbed him Captain Apocalypse for his tendency to rant and rave.
To Humphrey, Shipley hinted darkly about some kind of conspiracy to disappear all the officials on his side in the nursing board controversy. "It's not Shipley that's stinking," said Shipley. "It's other things that are stinking now."
When the TBI investigation made headlines in July, Gov. Bill Haslam seemed to scold Shipley and Ford. Haslam said, "I don’t like it when people use their leverage to accomplish maybe a personal agenda.”
Not only were House Republicans not chastised, they are doubling down. Shipley's appointment sends a clear message to investigators and the nursing board: Back off or we'll come after you again.