Jeremy Durham gave thousands in campaign funds to pro gambler

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMReal estate transactions involving Jeremy Durham have attorneys puzzled | 2:47

Former State Rep. Jeremy Durham was part of real estate transactions structured in a way that raised eyebrows among real estate attorneys and former prosecutors. Karen Kraft / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMWitnesses testify before grand jury against Jeremy Durham | 2:14

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed witnesses to testify before a grand jury as investigators pursue possible charges of bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud against former state lawmaker Jeremy Durham. Dave Boucher, Joel Ebert, Karen Kraft / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMJeremy Durham campaign finance investigation | 1:25

On Wednesday, the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance unanimously approved plans to expand its search into Jeremy Durham's campaign finances. Joel Ebert / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMJeremy Durham hits Florida fan, gets tossed out of UT game | 0:50

Jeremy Durham hits Florida fan, gets tossed out of UT game

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMRep. Jeremy Durham leaves expulsion hearing | 0:38

Rep. Jeremy Durham leaves the hearing on Sept. 13. Dave Boucher

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMTennessean's Dave Boucher, Joel Ebert on Jeremy Durham expulsion | 2:37

Embattled Rep. Jeremy Durham, accused of sexual misconduct toward at least 22 women and still under investigation by state and federal officials, was expelled Tuesday from the Tennessee House of Representatives during a special legislative session. Karen Kraft / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMTennessean reporters breakdown final Durham report | 2:31

Tennessean reporters Joel Ebert and Dave Boucher breakdown the final report about Rep. Jeremy Durham's misconduct during the 109th General Assembly. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMWhy is the Tennessee attorney disciplinary board investigating Jeremy Durham? | 2:02

The state agency charged with disciplining attorneys is investigating the actions of Jeremy Durham, potentially jeopardizing the recently expelled lawmaker's ability to continue to practice law. Dave Boucher and Karen Kraft / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMLegislators respond to Jeremy Durham expulsion | 0:31

The Tennessee Legislature voted 70-2 to vote out Jeremy Durham.

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMMcCormick and Casada speak about Jeremy Durham during special session | 0:52

Rep. Gerald McCormick and Rep. Glen Casada address there attempts to expel Rep. Jeremy Durham from the State House of Representatives after the first day of a special session of the legislature. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMSpeaker Harwell reacts to Durham report | 2:56

Speaker of the House of Representatives Beth Harwell reacts to the findings of the ad hoc committee report on Jeremy Durham's misconduct during the 109th General Assembly. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMRep. Jeremy Durham makes statement on AG report | 1:57

State Rep. Jeremy Durham reads a statement reacting to the State Attorney General's report of his misconduct during the 109th General Assembly. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMReaction to Jeremy Durham report | 1:01

Attorney General Herbert Slatery III and Tenn. Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini react to decision of House of Rep. ad hoc committee decision to not expel Rep. Jeremy Durham for misconduct. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMGov. Bill Haslam talks about Jeremy Durham | 1:33

The governor gives his thoughts about the recent controversy. Samuel M. Simpkins

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMTennessean editors speak about Jeremy Durham report | 3:38

Duane Gang and David Plazas of The Tennessean discuss today's findings that Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, engaged in inappropriate conduct with women, including sex with a 20-year-old college student working politics.

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VIDEOS: INVESTIGATION INTO JEREMY DURHAMJeremy Durham final report | 2:22

Legislative attorney Doug Grimes reads the final report to be submitted to the Speaker of the House's office on State Rep. Jeremy Durham misconduct during the 109th General Assembly. George Walker IV / The Tennessean

16 of 16

  • Real estate transactions involving Jeremy Durham have attorneys puzzled
  • Witnesses testify before grand jury against Jeremy Durham
  • Jeremy Durham campaign finance investigation
  • Jeremy Durham hits Florida fan, gets tossed out of UT game
  • Rep. Jeremy Durham leaves expulsion hearing
  • Tennessean's Dave Boucher, Joel Ebert on Jeremy Durham expulsion
  • Tennessean reporters breakdown final Durham report
  • Why is the Tennessee attorney disciplinary board investigating Jeremy Durham?
  • Legislators respond to Jeremy Durham expulsion
  • McCormick and Casada speak about Jeremy Durham during special session
  • Speaker Harwell reacts to Durham report
  • Rep. Jeremy Durham makes statement on AG report
  • Reaction to Jeremy Durham report
  • Gov. Bill Haslam talks about Jeremy Durham
  • Tennessean editors speak about Jeremy Durham report
  • Jeremy Durham final report

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Jeremy Durham, expelled from the Tennessee General Assembly last year, gave more than $20,000 in campaign money to a professional gambler with a criminal record, sources tell The Tennessean.(Photo: George Walker IV / File / The Tennessean)Buy Photo

Recently expelled lawmaker Jeremy Durham gave more than $20,000 in campaign money to a professional gambler who has a criminal record, according to multiple sources.

Durham’s financial transactions with David Whitis are expected to be among the findings released Wednesday from the state’s campaign finance and ethics investigation into Durham. It is illegal to use campaign funds for personal purposes.

Durham and Whitis, 41, are friends, sources say. Durham, an attorney, represented Whitis, who also lives in Williamson County, in at least two criminal proceedings. Whitis is the husband of Angela Hoover, a Williamson County attorney who is active in local Republican politics. Hoover and her father, former Williamson County General Sessions Judge Lonnie Hoover, both gave Durham campaign contributions.

Whitis has not returned recent requests for comment from The Tennessean. Durham’s attorney Peter Strianse did not respond to questions Monday afternoon about Durham giving Whitis campaign money.

The Tennessean has investigated Whitis’ connections to Durham for months, after learning that the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance was for possible campaign finance problems.

As news broke of the attorney general’s , Whitis started talking about a business connection he had with Durham, said a source who has spoken with Whitis on a frequent basis.

“He expected to be subpoenaed,” the source said, adding that Whitis was concerned his name would surface in the course of the investigations into Durham, which made him especially nervous.

The source, who requested anonymity because of fear of reprisals, provided The Tennessean with evidence that showed Whitis was concerned.

In August, the registry said there was a between Durham’s bank account and his campaign finance reports. The Tennessean detailed how Durham was also investigated for in a company owned by Andy Miller, a prominent GOP donor.

The registry memo from August includes a reference to an unsigned “promissory note” between Durham and “individual B” in the amount of $23,800.

“Documentation provided shows three (3) checks totaling $29,800 (October and November 2015) were written from Rep. Durham’s campaign account to individual B,” the memo states.

In September, Tennessee Registry of Election Finance Executive Director Drew Rawlins said he could not “confirm or deny” if Durham gave campaign funds to Whitis or others. He declined to answer if Whitis is “individual B.”

Durham is also the into possible charges of bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, according to a copy of a subpoena obtained by The Tennessean in December, when two witnesses said they appeared before a grand jury. The federal inquiry is ongoing, as is an investigation by the state entity that regulates attorneys.

Poker, the Yankees and arrests

In recent years, Whitis’ name surfaced in the news involving two extraordinary events: a local gambler winning a World Series of Poker tournament and the death of a New York Yankees pitcher who crashed his plane into a building.

In 2003, Whitis said he was a close friend of Chris Moneymaker, a Tennessee native who shocked the poker world when he won the Main Event in the World Series of Poker on his first attempt.

“What he’s done is phenomenal,” Whitis told The Tennessean on the eve of Moneymaker’s victory. “He’s already knocked out three world champions. I’ve got a small stake on him myself.”

A Moneymaker representative did not return a recent phone call seeking comment.

Whitis also described himself as a friend of Cory Lidle, the former Yankees’ pitcher who died in 2006 when his plane crashed en route to see Whitis in Nashville.

“I‘m still stunned,” Whitis told The Tennessean at the time. “I‘m having an incredibly hard time dealing with this.”

The full findings of the state‘s audit are set to be released during the registry‘s regular monthly meeting Wednesday in Nashville. The meeting starts at 10:30 a.m.

Reach Dave Boucher at or at and on Twitter .Reach Joel Ebert at  or and on Twitter .

Whitis and the law 

David Whitis, a professional gambler who received thousands of dollars in campaign funds from expelled lawmaker Jeremy Durham, has been arrested at least nine times in Tennessee and once in Florida on an array of charges, according to law enforcement records obtained by The Tennessean. Many of the arrests are related to driving issues:

  • In September 1999, Whitis was arrested in Nashville and charged with assault with bodily injury. The final disposition of the case is not known, but Nashville court records show he was indicted.

  • In October 1999, he was also indicted on felony forgery charges. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the forgery was for more than $1,000 but less than $10,000. The disposition of this case is not known.

  • In February 2004, he pleaded guilty to attempting to alter his license plate. An affidavit from the case says an officer noticed the dates on his temporary license plate had been changed. According to the Metro Nashville Criminal Court Clerk website, Whitis still owes $320 in fines and fees on this case.

  • In April 2007, Whitis was arrested in Nashville and charged with patronizing prostitution after agreeing to pay an undercover informant $25 in return for oral sex.

  • In March 2009, Whitis was arrested in Williamson County and charged with driving under the influence. When he appeared in front of a judge and pleaded guilty in December, Durham was his attorney. Whitis received a $350 fine, lost his license for a year, was ordered to serve 11 months and 29 days of probation and was required to attend alcohol and safety school. Charges of driving with a revoked licenses were dismissed.

  • In September 2009, Whitis was arrested in Nashville on allegations of domestic assault after he went to a woman’s home and began yelling. When the victim, who knew Whitis, let him in the building he began to swear at her, records state. Although she tried to get him to leave, the report states Whitis grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the floor. Records show Whitis choked the victim two other times and told her he would kill her. A document dated June 2010 indicated Durham was Whitis’ attorney. Dorinda Carter, a spokeswoman for the Nashville Office of the District Attorney General, said the case was “retired,” but said no other information was immediately available.

  • In February 2011, Whitis was charged in the Daytona area of Florida with domestic violence. The case was dropped by the state, said a Volusia County Circuit Court clerk. She didn’t provide a reason, and additional information was not immediately available.

  • In 2014, Whitis was cited for driving while his license was suspended.

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