Challenge to Gordon Dismissed

Posted February 9, 2005 at 4:38pm

The House Administration Committee dismissed a formal complaint contesting Tennessee Rep. Bart Gordon’s (D) election on Wednesday, rejecting the claim as baseless.

Both House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and the panel’s ranking member, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.), described the complaint filed by Bell Buckle, Tenn., resident J. Patrick Lyons (I) as “completely frivolous.”

Lyons finished third in November’s election for the 6th district.

“This is the same contest, the same constituent, the same candidate, making the same erroneous complaints that were dismissed by this committee two years ago,” Millender-McDonald said, referring to a nearly identical complaint Lyons filed following the 2002 general election that the panel dismissed in 2003. Lyons campaigned as an independent and finished third in that race as well.

In a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon, Lyons discussed his most recent complaint and explained that he believes a majority of lawmakers have violated constitutional laws.

“America does not have a legal Congress,” said the 61-year-old Lyons.

According to his complaint, the Constitution prohibits lawmakers from seeking re-election without first resigning from their seats.

Additionally, in his complaint against Gordon, Lyons asserted that the Democratic lawmaker is in violation of the separation of powers clause because as a member of the Tennessee bar, he is an active judicial officer.

“You cannot take an oath as an attorney and then be a Member of Congress simultaneously,” Lyons said.

But Lyons, who said he had yet to be notified of the panel’s decision Wednesday morning, acknowledged the dismissal did not come as a surprise. “I expected it,” he said.

Lyons said he filed the election complaint as a preliminary step in his pursuit of a federal lawsuit against the committee. He filed a similar lawsuit in the 2002 cycle; however, that case failed in federal court.

A Gordon spokesman declined to comment on the dismissal, other than to note that Lyons’ assertions constitute “a way out in left field complaint.”

Lyons garnered 3,869 votes in 2004, behind Gordon, who won with more than 167,000 votes and Republican Nick Demas, who took nearly 88,000 votes. Independent Norman Saliba finished fourth in the race with 1,802 votes, according to the Tennessee secretary of state’s office.