Is latest Forrest bust twist about avoiding future legal action?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The case of removing a Confederate general’s bust from the State Capitol may be getting murkier, but the issue may also be about avoiding future legal action.

The House and Senate speakers said there’s a statute unforeseen by most that needs to be followed if the bust is to be removed from the second floor of the capitol to the state museum.

It comes in a letter from House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Governor Randy McNally to members and staff for the Tennessee State Building Commission.

It referenced the first legal step July 9 by the Tennessee Capitol Commission to move the bust, but the two speakers say a statute concerning capitol commission action “requires concurrence” by the state building commission.

The commission includes Governor Bill Lee, Speakers Sexton and McNally along with the Tennessee’s secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer and finance commissioner.

A potential hearing would be welcomed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Attorney Doug Jones, who is already claiming in a lawsuit that the Capitol Commission had “no jurisdiction” in the initial step to remove the Forrest bust.

“If the building commission has a hearing, and we have been in every hearing they have had on the Forrest bust, I would suspect we would participate n that hearing,” Jones told News 2.

A statement Wednesday by Doug Kufner, a spokesperson for Speaker Sexton, said in part…”The goal of the letter is to ensure the current process outlined in law is followed precisely. speaker sexton remains focused on this process so that no mistakes are made that could require additional action in the future or raise further legal questions.”

It follows a statement earlier in the week from Adam Kleinheider, Lt. Governor McNally’s spokesperson that said in part “The letter was sent to ensure the law was followed.”

When and if the Confederate bust issue goes to the state’s building commission remains a lingering question.

A spokesperson for the commission late Wednesday said it not received any correspondence from the two legislative speakers about the Forrest bust issue.

Officials of Governor Lee’s office said in a statement that “We believe the Capitol Commission followed historical precedent and are reviewing the letter from the speakers.”

This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and WKRN.com for updates.

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