Veterans Services Commissioner Courtney Rogers, deputy Tilman Goins resign from Tennessee department

Gun Rights

Natalie Allison
| Nashville Tennessean

Courtney Rogers, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services, is now out of the job along with her top deputy.

Rogers, a military veteran and former state House member, is the third of Gov. Bill Lee’s commissioners to resign in roughly the past month, a period that has proven tumultuous for the governor’s original Cabinet.

Appointed by Lee in January 2019, the 61-year-old Rogers resigned from the position the week of Thanksgiving, according to Laine Arnold, spokesperson for the governor. Rogers’ departure had not been publicly announced by the governor’s office. Her salary was $161,904.

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Tilman Goins, who also previously served as a Republican legislator in the House and had been hired as Rogers’ deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, resigned as well. He made $129,996 annually.

Lee’s office has not announced what prompted the pair’s simultaneous resignations.

Rogers, a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and Tennessee Air National Guard, served three terms in the House representing Goodlettsville in Sumner County but did not seek reelection in 2018.

Both former lawmakers entered the legislature in 2012 after defeating Republican incumbents, and each announced in early 2018 they would not be seeking another term.

In 2012, Rogers beat former Rep. Debra Maggart while receiving the financial backing of the National Rifle Association. Goins, of Morristown, narrowly defeated former Rep. Don Miller

Rogers’ DVS commissioner web page and the department’s leadership staff page have each been removed.

Both Rogers and Goins were present at the department’s budget hearing with Lee on Nov. 12.

During a September 2016 special session, Rogers was one of two lawmakers to vote against the expulsion of former Rep. Jeremy Durham, while Goins was among roughly a dozen who declined to vote on the matter.

Earlier in that year, an attorney general’s report detailed allegations against Durham that included having inappropriate sexual conduct with at least 22 women during his time in office. The expulsion measure passed.

That same year, Rogers made a bizarre statement during a floor speech, apparently describing students’ racial demographics as meat.

Discussing a 2016 bill she co-sponsored to pull funding from the University of Tennessee’s diversity office, Rogers began to talk about her ideal version of “diversity offices that are recruiting the best, from light meat to dark meat, across the entire spectrum.”

She referred to herself as “an endangered species — a Hawaiian in Tennessee.”

Hodgen Mainda, who served as Lee’s commissioner for the Department of Commerce and Insurance, resigned in late October following a human resources investigation into allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances on an employee earlier in the year.

Danielle Barnes, who was commissioner of the Department of Human Services, resigned around the same time after finding a new job in the private sector.

Reach Natalie Allison at Follow her on Twitter at @natalie_allison.

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