NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Just a day after Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates, one Tennessee House Republican is pushing the matter with GOP leaders in the state.
Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) sent an email comparing some of his colleagues to “medical Nazis” for their support of vaccine mandates.
Griffey, who has a history of bucking GOP legislative leaders, isn’t shying away from the controversy.
“I’m a country lawyer from West Tennessee, sometimes you know you throw these hyperbolic bombs to kind of get people stirred up,” he said in response to calling his Democratic colleagues ‘Nazis.’
The email was sent to House members, some senators, and Governor Bill Lee. Griffey writes he’s frustrated that the legislature has, “A number of ‘medical Nazis’ in the TN House and Senate that think it’s ok for some Tennesseans, (those with financial power via their business ownership or employment of other Tennesseans), to discriminate against fellow (powerless) Tennesseans by requiring vaccines by threatening them with the loss of their job and/or ability to conduct business.”
“I’m frustrated that more of the membership in the GOP haven’t stood up for the rights of citizens during the COVID pandemic,” Griffey said.
Griffey, who took part in an anti-mask and vaccine mandate rally at the Tennessee State Capitol in September also included COVID misinformation in the letter. He wrote countries have found success using the drug Ivermectin and other therapies to battle covid. Ivermectin is not an FDA-approved drug to fight COVID.
“I feel like there’s such a push for the vaccines that alternative therapies are being pushed to the side, monoclonal antibodies, those are effective,” Griffey said.
Representative Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville) said using that kind of rhetoric and comparison to brutal dictators is inappropriate.
“[It’s] extremely divisive and it’s dangerous,” the Democratic House Caucus leader said.
He added politics are getting in the way of public health.
“Many of the people that are spitting and spouting this rhetoric have had the vaccine, they’ve had COVID, they’ve had these issues and they’ve taken the appropriate measures to make sure they don’t get sick again, but they’re pandering to their base or their potential base in order to move their political ambitions,” Dixie said.
However, Griffey says that’s not the case, adding it’s about “medical freedom.”
“It’s incumbent upon government to try to protect the rights of individuals and they shouldn’t have to be forced to choose from being able to work or not work if they don’t want to take this vaccine or not and again if you want to take the vaccine, take it,” said Griffey.
This comes as pressure is intensifying for GOP lawmakers to call themselves into a special session to ban COVID requirements.
“If you want to talk about medical Nazis I think they have to look in the mirror when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. They’re the biggest offenders that are out there,” Dixie said.
Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton did not respond to a request for comment.