Dem. state senator from TN expelled from chamber in wake of fraud conviction

Katrina Robinson, a Democrat member of the state Senate in Tennessee, was expelled from the legislative body one Wednesday in the wake of her conviction on fraud charges last fall, as the New York Post reports.

Robinson is currently facing sentencing following her conviction last fall in a case involving allegations that she misappropriated over $600,000 in federal funds intended for a health care school she operated and used those resources to help pay for wedding and other types of personal expenses, according to Memphis Fox affiliate WHBQ.

Though the now-former state lawmaker was acquitted on 15 out of the 20 charges brought by federal prosecutors, a did convict her on four of five remaining counts, and while two of those were ultimately dropped by a judge, she is now awaiting her sentencing date.

Citing her conviction, the Tennessee Senate’s Ethics Committee recommended her expulsion from the legislature, and by a vote of 27-5, that is precisely what occurred.

Randy McNally, speaker of the Senate, issued a statement Wednesday lamenting the outcome, though explaining, “While the expulsion of a Senator for the first time in history was not something any of us wished to see, it was a necessary action. The integrity of the Senate is of paramount importance.

Republican state Sen. John Stevens also agreed with the result, saying, “They determined she violated a criminal statutes. How can be demand that citizens respect the integrity and reputation of the Senate if we disrespect them by ignoring their determinations.”

Robinson herself declared the expulsion process “one of the most discriminatory, misogynistic, racist, and partisan hearings against a prominent state Senator in Tennessee,” and while her lawyers had sought a delay in the vote until after her final court hearing in the matter at issue, a vote on whether that would happen resulted in a tie, which caused it to fail.

State Rep. Antonio Parker, head of the Black Caucus in the legislature declared Robinson’s expulsion “deeply disheartening” and called the result “a jolting reminder that we operate in the most powerful building in the land where the rules for citizens, the governor, the courts and members are made by the ruling parties.”

Having served in the state Senate since 2018 representing parts of Memphis and surrounding suburbs, Robinson now has the distinction of being the first lawmaker in Tennessee to face expulsion since 1866, as the Post noted, a dishonor she will have to bear for rest of her days.