Report: Feds and TBI involved in probe of voucher vote

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston) speaks with House Finance Chair Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) in the House chamber on April 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Despite the housecleaning that has taken place in the lower chamber of the General Assembly, state and federal officials are still looking into allegations that former Speaker Glen Casada offered inducements to lawmakers in exchange for supporting controversial voucher legislation, The Daily Memphian’s Sam Stockard reports.

The publication confirmed that agents with the FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have spoken to lawmakers about allegations that Casada and his staff about made promises as part of an effort to break a 49-49 vote on the bill in May. Casada kept the board open for more than 40 minutes to try to make the case to various lawmakers, including on the balcony outside the House chamber.

Casada has denied any wrongdoing, calling allegations of inducements “unequivocally false.”

State Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) said the move to keep the board open  set a bad precedent for close votes.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens because it was certainly improper and one of the things Glen did that unraveled his speakership,” Coley said.

Democratic Rep. G.A. Hardaway of Memphis, the chairman of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, is preparing a letter to TBI Director David Rausch requesting an investigation into potential “public corruption,” in connection with the voucher vote.

One area of widespread speculation is whether Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston), who recently became a full colonel in the Tennessee National Guard, was offered a promotion to general if he switched his vote to favor the voucher bill.

Windle has confirmed a conversation took place in which Casada suggested he could be made a general if he supported the bill. But he remained in the ‘no’ column.

“I voted no on the bill as a matter of principle, and that vote decision did not change. The people of Fentress, Jackson, Morgan and Overton counties are fiercely independent, and their vote is not for sale,” Windle said in a statement after the allegations were first made public. “After the vote, as a former prosecutor, I sought the guidance of Tennessee ethics authorities and followed their recommendations.”

9 Responses to Report: Feds and TBI involved in probe of voucher vote

  • Lenny says:

    Casada can’t promote National Guard members. They need to be interviewing Bill Lee.

  • David Collins says:

    I’m surprised he didn’t say, “fake news”.

    • MARLE says:

      You need a mighty flock of sheeple for the Fake News proclamation to work effectively. We’ll see if the usual suspects on this site give it a try….baa, baa.

  • Jason Wallflower says:

    Do I think Bill Lee personally made promises? No.

    Do I think Bill Lee’s staff may have been involved in these discussions? You betcha.

    • Lenny says:

      I don’t think he’s smart enough to cover his tracks. Jimmy Haslam and Chris Christie were able to keep the convictions at the staff below them. Lee is a little more, let’s say, unsophisticated.

    • James White says:

      Jason could be right.

    • Joe says:

      According to the TV reporting on this incident, one of Lee’s staff was on the balcony when the offer was made, and then handed Windle a phone with Lee on the other end of the call.
      So, do I believe that Lee personally made promises? YES!

  • BJ Erwin says:

    Of course they made offers and deals. Casada cannot offer promotions, but he can pass on the offer from the governor’s office, or influence the governor’s office. The problem is that instead of admitting wrong occurred, several members of the governor’s party are claiming that Casada is the target of “fake news” because he is a Trump martyr.

  • Donna Locke says:

    Remember when Naifeh used to . . .

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