NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — At least one Republican lawmaker has now called for the resignation of embattled Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), who has made national headlines for comments he made on social media.
In a letter obtained by News 2’s State Capitol Newsroom reporter Chris O’Brien, Rep. Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill) called on McNally to step down from his position and called for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into possible criminal violations.
“Not only have Tennessee Republicans now become the laughingstock of the nation, the bottom line is this: Randy McNally is a predator,” the letter stated.
At the State Capitol Thursday morning, O’Brien asked Warner why he sent the letter. Warner responded, “It’s time for him to resign. He’s had a week. I was hoping he would step down on his own and he’s chosen not to do so, but it’s time for him to resign.”
When O’Brien asked, “Why is that?” Warner said, “You can tell.”
Also in the Capitol building, O’Brien attempted to ask McNally about the letter in person, but he did not respond right away.
However, a couple of hours later, News 2 received a statement from McNally’s office stating:
“I serve at the pleasure of the members of the Senate and my caucus. As long as I have their confidence, I am committed to the important work of this state. We have several pieces of crucial legislation, as well as a budget, to pass. I remain committed to that critical work.”Lt. Gov. Randy McNally
McNally’s Instagram history started circulating on social media last week. In one incident from a 20-year-old gay man’s account, known as Franklyn, that had a least one picture of his backside, a post from McNally’s official account included heart and fire emojis and said “you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine!”
News 2 spoke with Franklyn who said they never met in person. “To me, I’m not a stranger to compliments, so I don’t really read into them because I just think that’s wrong to assume somebody’s hitting on you just because they’re nice to you.”
Franklyn said he was 17 when the messages started but McNally didn’t know his age.
He continued, “He did not say he wanted to date me or have sex or anything like that.”
Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and other Republican leaders distanced themselves from Warner’s comments Thursday after session.
“I don’t think he’s ever sat down and spoken to Lieutenant Governor in his tenure here. So I find it interesting that you would make a speculation without knowing the person, first of all,” he said. “That’s his opinion, as you can see, he signed it himself. No one else signed onto the letter. So, it is what it is.”
Democrats pointed to Warner’s ties to a federal bribery and conspiracy investigation into former Speaker of the House Glen Casada and his aide Cade Cothren.
McNally called for Casada to resign amid the 2019 investigation.
“I think you need to take a close look at the individual who issued that statement and I would urge caution on his part,” Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said. “Something along the line of throwing rocks at glass houses.”
McNally was accused of being a hypocrite as lawmakers recently passed anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“I’ve got friends that are in that community. I’m not against those individuals,” McNally said Thursday following a Senate floor session. “I try to encourage and support individuals that I know.”
In response to the controversy, McNally on Monday said he was going to be pausing his social media activities to “reflect and receive more guidance on the use of social media.”
The letter from Warner further stated, “Randy McNally began sexually grooming his victim when he was 17-year-old minor, commenting relentlessly on nude photos from his official social media account, sending private, calling the victim on multiple occasions, and even offering him a job in the Lt. Governor’s office.”
Speaker of the House, Cameron Sexton, also answered questions about the controversy.
“I’ve known him for 35 years. He is a very kind and considerate man who does offer encouragement to a lot of people. People may disagree with his comments, but they are not inappropriate, and he was doing it in a way to be kind to all people.” Sexton continued, “He’s apologized for it and to those people he offended, and I think the Senate and I think we’re moving past it at this point.”
News 2 has also reached out to the TBI, and spokesperson Josh DeVine responded with the following statement:
We are aware of Representative Warner’s remarks. As with any complaint that falls within the Bureau’s jurisdiction, we will review information available to us to determine what, if any, action may be appropriate.Josh DeVine, TBI spokesperson
Stay with News 2 on-air and online for more updates on this story.