To say that state Rep. Tony Shipley hasn't learned his lesson is an understatement. While deciding not to file criminal charges against Shipley yesterday, Davidson County DA Torry Johnson did criticize him for "particularly heavy-handed" intimidation of state regulators. Shipley succeeded in pressuring the Board of Nursing to reinstate the licenses of three nurses accused of over-prescribing pills, and Johnson made it clear he thought the lawmaker was way out of line. But Shipley's unabashed. Shamelessly, he's threatening to launch his own McCarthy-style investigation into who complained to the authorities about him in the first place. To Tennessee Report's Andrea Zelinski, the defiant Shipley says:
I'm back to business as usual and will do everything I have done before again. We'll make a decision maybe later this week whether to open an investigation into who did it and what they told the DA because a false report to the district attorney is a felony. So we're not going to have that. We're not going to stand for it. ... I think as a minimum the person who orchestrated this ought to reimburse the state for the expenses we incurred. ... This was uncalled for. In a pre-election year when we're trying to raise money and raising concerns about the ethics of legislators, it's not a healthy thing for us and I intend for it not to be a healthy thing for the person who did it if I can if I can figure out who did it.
Shipley can make good on his outrageous threat because he's the chairman of a special joint committee overseeing health-related boards. House Republican leaders named Shipley to this position even during the investigation into whether he was guilty of official misconduct because of what he did on behalf of the nurses. That appointment was a mistake, as anyone who has observed Shipley during his two terms in Nashville realizes.
For his penchant for public ranting and raving, his nickname in the political press corps is Capt. Apocalypse. He has invoked God's wrath against gay people. He wants to shred the Fourth Amendment to launch top-secret missions against all the terrorists in our midst. Now he's threatening to use his public office to frighten citizens for reporting possible public corruption.