A Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives has pleaded guilty to perjury in Sullivan County.
Nichole E. Williams, 34, appeared in Sullivan County Criminal Court on Friday afternoon and was ordered to complete 11 months and 29 days of supervised probation, according District Attorney General Barry Staubus. She must also pay a $50 fine for the misdemeanor perjury charge.
The charge stems from a statement made Feb. 13, 2020, according to information filed by Staubus. Williams committed perjury by providing a “false residential address” on an official state of Tennessee candidate nomination petition for the office of U.S. House of Representatives for the First District.
Williams, who seeks to replace retiring Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, said Friday in a statement on Facebook that the charge “sounds much worse than it is.”
“I’m just a regular person,” she said. “I didn’t know when I picked my petition up that I was going to have to fill it out at the office. I had just recently moved across town and hadn’t updated my driver’s license.”
Williams lives in Kingsport.
“After going over a huge packet of information, I didn’t even pay attention when I wrote my old address on it,” Williams said. “I lived there for 6 years.”
The candidate said that before finding out that she had broken the law, she updated her license and picked up a new petition.
“I did not file the petition with my old address on it,” she said. “Ironically, the second petition that I picked up was handed to me blank, and I filled it out in my car.”
Williams said she now realizes the importance of reading documents before signing them.
“I was just really excited and nervous, and I made a mistake,” Williams said.
The candidate said she takes full responsibility for her actions and admits her guilt. She also says she was treated “very fairly” by Staubus. She said he did not let politics get in the way of how he handled the matter.
Williams said she has worked hard campaigning over the last 10 months and will continue to do so.
“I am not going to let them stop me,” Williams said, referring to people against her campaign. “I won’t let them stop us!!! So, I will pay my $50 fine, and do my community service so ‘they’ can drag my name through the dirt over a technicality. And I’ll do it with a smile on my face, and I’ll do it for you!”
A misdemeanor conviction does not disqualify an individual from being a candidate for public office, Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher said.
Williams faces 15 other Republican hopefuls looking to replace Roe. A sample ballot from the Sullivan County Election Commission lists Jay Adkins, Phil Arlinghaus, Richard Baker, Chance L. Cansler, John Clark, Rusty Crowe, Steve Darden, Chad Fleenor, Robert D. Franklin, Josh Gapp, Diana Harshbarger, David B. Hawk, Timothy Hill, Chuck Miller and Carter M. Quillen. Three Democrats — Chris Rowe, Larry J. Smith, Blair Walsingham — are also on the ballot. The primary is set for Aug. 6.