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Justin Jones is Bad at His Job

Justin Jones is Bad at His Job

Aside from garnering national attention, what has Jones done for his constituents in District 52?

“A Tennessee legislative staffer has been placed on leave after Democratic state Rep. Justin Jones says the staffer yelled at him in a hallway,” reads the first line of an AP article. The incident occurred after the legislative aide apparently confronted Jones over his taking money in exchange for pictures, an accusation we originally saw posted, then deleted by Danny D. Glover who serves as a Special Assistant at TSU and was accompanying students at the Tennessee Capitol in January.

The aide was given a disciplinary suspension until May 3rd: “On the evening of January 9, 2024, you were in an inappropriate confrontation with a Member of the House of Representatives,” states the letter the aide received from Connie Ridley, the legislature’s administrative director. 

This is the latest reported row involving Jones, who seems constitutionally incapable of avoiding conflict with those around him. On June 10th, 2020, then-activist Jones helped launch a protest after legislators shot down a bill to remove the capitol’s Nathan Bedford Forrest bust. On June 18th, Jeneisha Harris, co-founder of the National Black Action Committee, took to Facebook.

“I have to speak about this publicly because my spirit won’t let me sleep tonight if I don’t,” she wrote, before accusing Jones of witnessing and purposely ignoring two sexual assaults that took place during the weeklong demonstration. Though we have made numerous attempts to contact Harris about the incident, she has not come forward to clarify her accusation. The post is flooded with comments describing less-than-satisfactory encounters with Jones, of which we have made inquiries to no avail. That being said, Harris’ post remains available for public view.


It’s clear being elected to office didn’t do much to change Jones’s disposition. Multiple Democrats have disparaged Jones’ style of politicking. “When this all began, Justin and [Rep. Justin Pearson] wanted to be expelled, and I think all of us were working hard to try to keep them from being expelled,” Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar) told the Lookout. “All I can say is the chaos needs to stop on both sides, but it takes both sides to stop the chaos.”

Jones’ rift with the Democratic caucus is a minor concern compared to his almost nonexistent relationship with Republicans, who happen to control the state legislature. The Pamphleteer has been given multiple, first-hand accounts of Jones complaining about his lack of allies. Shaw expressed a common sentiment shared among Jones’ colleagues: “You don’t get up and trash people every time you stand up and expect to get something done.” 

During the expulsion hearings last year, Rep. Sabi "Doc" Kumar (R-Springfield) accused Jones of referring to him as a “brown face” in a committee meeting. This year, Jones was booted from the House Education Admin Committee on January 11th; the appointment was originally made by House Speaker Cameron Sexton during special session, who then pulled Jones from the committee a day after Jones called the Speaker “drunk with power” during a House floor meeting.


This session, Jones has laced his catalog of legislation with a few less controversial bills. Early in session, for instance, Jones attempted to reach across the aisle with a farm equipment bill, which would likely gain support from some of his more rural colleagues. Though Jones’ district only accounts for a fractional portion of the state’s agriculture industry, his attempt to reach out did not land him a Republican sponsor on the bill.

He also put forward a conservation bill to protect sandhill cranes, which fell flat among certain conservationists: “In TN, there's a regulated season for sandhill cranes where around 2,500 tags are issued. 2 per hunter,” columnist Kenn Cody posted on X. “They are protected, and the licensing fees from hunters are the reason that refuges like the one you are at in this video even exist. Astounding ignorance on wildlife law.”

At the end of the day, most of Jones’ bills, such as his reparations bill, are more performative than they are practical by design. For someone known to suck the air out of the room, his failure to walk the talk continues to be the defining emblem of Jones’ political career.