Former Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh divorced last summer

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KNOXVILLE -- With the numerous public scandals and other news concerning politics and marital or sexual relationships over the years, you wouldn't think that the divorce of a state's major power couple would go unnoticed by the media for long. Yet it wasn't until this past week that Tennessee Divorce law news sources got hold of the divorce of former state House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh -- which happened back in July.

Knoxville News Sentinel political columnist Tom Humphrey broke the story in his blog on February 5. It seems Naifeh, 69, and lobbyist wife Betty Anderson ended their 13-year marriage quietly in a Tipton County court; although they did not make any formal public announcement of theDivorce law Tennessee Anderson expressed surprise at the lack of news coverage.

Naifeh, who entered Tennessee's House of Representatives in 1974 and served as its Speaker from 1991 until last month, married Anderson in 1995. The marriage was controversial because Anderson's work as a top legislative lobbyist made many people consider the union to be a conflict of interest. However, the couple insisted to the media that they went to great lengths to avoid such conflicts; Naifeh frequently took positions on issues that opposed his wife's.

Both Anderson and Naifeh claim that the divorce was amicable. "Jimmy and I have always had a great mutual respect for one another," Anderson told the News Sentinel, "and we always will. We're still friends."

Naifeh spoke to the same paper in a separate interview. "We used the same attorney, if that tells you anything," he said when asked about the friendliness of the dissolution.

Jimmy Naifeh is a Democrat who represents Tipton and Heywood Counties in Tennessee. He has been succeeded by Republican Kent Williams as Speaker of the state's House of Representatives.
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Jeff Cotrill is the staff writer of Divorce Mag and href=""> which
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