The Republican candidate for district attorney in a Tenessee county, who called for the prosecution of librarians for making books on LGBTQ+ issues available to children, won her election last week. Now she's denying that she ever considered prosecutions, but a video reveals otherwise.
Coty Wamp won the election to be Hamilton County, Tenn.'s district attorney on August 4.
As elected officials across the country called for banning or restricting books dealing with LGBTQ+ themes and issues of racism, Wamp joined the chorus in May, advocating for the prosecution of librarians who stock books she finds objectionable.
A video from a campaign event recently resurfaced on YouTube and tells the story.
An audience member asks Wamp a lengthy question about whether it is appropriate to prosecute librarians for the "awful" things they allow to be placed in front of children. The questioner said that the right-wing group Moms for Liberty has exposed "obscenity and vulgar language" in library books.
Wamp says in the video that she connected a representative of Moms for Liberty with the local sheriff for whom she was an attorney at the time.
"I think that there is going to come a time in some of these books where it crosses a criminal line," Wamp says. "It's called contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
She equates handing out inappropriate brochures to children as they walk into school with providing them access to library resources.
However, in a statement to The Advocate, a representative for Wamp denies that she would prosecute librarians.
"Ms. Wamp has no desire or intention to prosecute school teachers or librarians," the statement reads. "She will never prosecute them for the books that exist in their schools."
The spokesperson wrote that during a conversation that Wamp had with a conservative group during her campaign, she was handed a book found in a local public elementary school that contained sexually explicit material, including information about sexual positions.
"The book does not belong to her, as is obvious if you have watched the video," the spokesperson wrote. "She is not, and never will be, an advocate for any adult giving young children sexually explicit material."
In the video, after the person off camera asks Wamp about prosecuting librarians, she first inquires about finding a woman named Pam. After Wamp begins her answer, it appears that Pam is found, and someone hands Wamp the children's book It's Perfectly Normal, with pages seemingly annotated. Wamp then holds the book up as an example of the kind of book she finds objectionable.
It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley is a book meant for children 10 years old and older. It focuses on teaching kids about sexual and emotional health. The book also features parts on puberty, pregnancy, and sexual orientation.
Later in the four-and-a-half-minute video, Wamp flips through the book and, in a disgusted tone, exclaims, "terrible, I mean, horrible. 'Cuddling, kissing, touching, and sexual intercourse.' Yeah, I don't know how that's not contributing to the delinquency of a minor," as audience members gasp and in hushed tones say "Jesus!"
As a daughter of former U.S. Representative Zach Wamp, a conservative Republican, Wamp has an extensive political background, Tennessee Lookout reports. After unsuccessfully running for their father's former seat in 2012 and 2014, her brother, Weston Wamp, won the Hamilton County mayoral election last week.
Coty Wamp has served as a former public defender, prosecutor, and assistant public defender in the 11th judicial district, and assistant district attorney in the 10th judicial district.