GOP politician accuses Randy McNally of “grooming” young gay man

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally Photo: Screenshot/Action News 5

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally’s (R) list of critics just got longer.

A week after he was caught liking, commenting, and leaving fire emoji on a young man’s thirst pics on Instagram, one GOP lawmaker accused him of “grooming” and called on him to resign.

McNally is a 79-year-old great-grandfather married to a woman and a part of Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) administration that has signed multiple extreme anti-LGBTQ+ bills into law in the past several years. And last week he commented on a close-up picture of the butt of a young man named “Franklyn” on Instagram.

“Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine!” he wrote, adding three heart and three fire emoji.

One detail that came out during the ensuing media firestorm was that McNally had apparently been friends with Franklyn for years, DMing him and commenting on his pictures.

McNally deleted his Instagram account and his office said, “Trying to imply something sinister or inappropriate about a great-grandfather’s use of social media says more about the mind of the left-wing operative making the implications than it does about Randy McNally.”

Well, it’s not just “left-wing operatives” who think his social media activity is inappropriate, it’s also state Rep. Todd Warner (R), who is accusing McNally of grooming Franklyn.

“Not only have Tennessee Republicans now become the laughingstock of the nation, the bottom line is this: Randy McNally is a predator,” Warner said in a statement. Warner says that McNally “began sexually grooming his victim when he was a 17-year-old minor” by “relentlessly” commenting on his social media posts, sending him private messages, and calling him.

Warner even says that McNally offered Franklyn a job he’s unqualified for in his office and accuses McNally of similar relationships with others, though no one else is named in the statement.

“These are not the actions of a ‘grandfather’ working to ‘encourage’ Tennesseans,” Warner wrote. “These are the actions of a perverted 80-year-old man looking to fulfill his closeted sexual desires. These are the actions of man [sic] using his authority to manipulate others for sexual gratification. These are the actions of a hypocritical man caught red-handed in a scheme to take advantage of at least one underage young man.”

Warner called for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into McNally for “possible violations of Tennessee criminal law related to the sexual exploitation of a minor” and for McNally to resign.

“I serve at the pleasure of the members of the Senate and my caucus,” McNally said in a statement, resisting calls to resign. “As long as I have their confidence, I am committed to the important work of this state.”

McNally apologized earlier this week for his social media activity and said that he would be “pausing” it as he learns more about netiquette.

“I apologize for any embarrassment my postings have caused my family, friends, and colleagues. For this reason, I will be pausing my social media activity in order to reflect and receive more guidance on the use of social media,” he said.

He also insisted last week that he’s not anti-LGBTQ+, despite his support of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“I’m not anti-gay,” McNally said. “Well, we pass bills that kind of limit certain things, and I think there are safeguards in there.”

Warner himself has been a vocal opponent of LGBTQ+ equality while in the Tennessee legislature, according to them. He sponsored several bills banning gender-affirming medical care for trans youth and a bill classifying drag shows as adult performances. His office was raided by the FBI in 2021 as part of an investigation into money laundering.

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