State House Democratic leaders are remaining supportive of Rep. Rob Briley and say they are not making recommendations on whether he should step down from the Legislature to get his life in order.
Briley (D-Nashville) had been in treatment for alcoholism but abruptly checked out of rehab last week and was found by law enforcement authorities on a casino floor in Tunica.
The 41-year-old attorney checked into rehab after being charged with two felonies, a DUI and several additional misdemeanors after two incidents in DeKalb and Wilson counties in early September.
Rep. Randy Rinks (D-Savannah), the longtime chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said he has not spoken with Briley recently and is not making any recommendation on whether Briley should continue in the Legislature.
Rinks said Briley still could be an effective member of the Legislature.
“People are willing I think to forgive,” Rinks said. “I think we’ve all been raised that way. And I think people are willing to forgive, but when you get in that situation you’ve got to just be able to prove yourself and be willing to do that.”
Days after abruptly checking out of rehab, going missing and being found in Tunica, Briley is believed to be back in Nashville, according to sources close to the lawmaker.
Calls to his cell phone have not been returned. His brother, David, will not issue further comment to the press, and neither would his attorney, Wade Davies of Knoxville.
House Majority Leader Gary Odom (D-Nashville) would not speculate on whether Briley could still be an effective member of the Legislature, saying he hopes Briley gets well.
“I don’t know how that’s going to play out, but I’m sure that it will all work out in the end,” Odom said. “And I hope the way it works out is I hope that Rob Briley gets well because he’s a good guy.”
Briley checked out of rehab shortly after a story ran in the Nashville Scene alleging that Briley had an extramarital affair with a Capitol Hill lobbyist who lobbied the House Judiciary Committee that Briley previously chaired.
Both Odom and Rinks said they hear lots of rumors but maintained they were not aware of an affair involving Briley. House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington) has also said he was not aware when he appointed Briley to chair the Judiciary Committee of any such affair.
Briley resigned as Judiciary Chairman the week after he was charged with the alleged offenses.
Briley is not scheduled to appear in court until Oct. 31 in Wilson County.