Cade Cothren

Is this what Casada meant by ‘nothing else?’

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin), right, meets with colleagues on the Senate floor on May 1, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Seeking to shore up support among the Republican caucus last week, House Speaker Glen Casada assured colleagues “there’s nothing else to come out” in the text message scandal that threatens to topple him from the chamber’s top leadership position.

But new revelations emerged on Monday, as WTVF’s Phil Williams reported that Casada and his now former chief of staff exchanged text messages about whether two young women were at the legal age of consent.

Cade Cothren, then the House GOP press secretary, sent a text to Casada in August 2016 featuring a vide of two women dancing in his apartment.

“R they 21?” wrote Casada, then the House Republican Caucus chairman.

“It only takes 18,” responded Cothren, who was named Casada’s chief of staff after his election as speaker in January.

Casada’s answer: “Lol!!! And true!”

Cothren resigned last week after WTVF and The Tennessean reported he had sent racist and lewd texts. Casada said he never saw racist texts and apologized for “locker room talk” regarding women.

In one exchange, Cothren described a woman pictured upside down next to a pole as “wife material,” and Casada responded: “Can I just touch?” Cothren answered: “Maybe just once.”

In another exchange, Cothren texted Casada about a supposed sexual encounter with a woman in the bathroom at the Party Fowl restaurant, adding he’d send pictures later.

Casada remarked his aide had only been “gone for 60 seconds,” adding, “R u a minute man?” Cothren answered that he takes after Casada.

“Like father, like son,” he wrote to the speaker.

Cothren in other text messages solicited oral sex and nude photos from an intern and made sexual advances toward a female lobbyist.

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) became the seventh Republican to call to Casada to step aside as speaker. The Tennessee black caucus also voted to call for Casada to resign as the chamber’s leader after a marathon meeting on Monday.

Casada releases ‘action plan … to prevent future missteps’

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) speaks to Republican colleagues in Nashville on April 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) has released a statement about his plans for responding to the text messaging scandal that has enveloped his office:

I take complete ownership over the text messages with inappropriate comments about women that I exchanged with my former Chief of Staff and another individual several years ago. It’s embarrassing and humbling to have it displayed in this manner. I apologize and hope that my friends, family, colleagues, and constituents find a way to forgive me for it because it is not the person I am and it hasn’t been the way I have conducted myself as Speaker.

I’d also like to take the time to express my sincere disappointment for the myriad of other messages between my former Chief of Staff and another individual that have surfaced which included racial slurs, drug use, and various other inappropriate comments. I condemn them in their entirety and I do not tolerate that type of behavior as an elected official or as a human being.

Moving forward, I have put together an action plan to be executed by members of my staff, members of the House Ethics Committee, and the joint legislative offices that seeks to provide clarity to what has transpired, as well as ensure that I am doing everything within my power to prevent future missteps. I look forward to executing this plan as I work towards establishing trust where it has been broken and ensuring that the House is more ready than ever to conduct the people’s business.

 

Here’s the “Action Plan”

  • Speaker Casada has written today to the TBI and to the District Attorney Generals’ Conference asking them to investigate, as expeditiously as possible, the email from Mr. Justin Jones that was forwarded by former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren to the District Attorney’s office. The TBI and the District Attorney will have the full cooperation of the Speaker’s office, the House of Representatives, and Legislative Information Services. Although we are confident that the email was not forged, an independent investigation is welcomed.
  • The House Ethics Committee has been asked by Speaker Casada to meet to review the termination of former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren. In addition, the committee with the assistance of Connie Ridley, Director of Legislative Administration, is being asked to review our personnel policies and to investigate the possibility of drug testing for new They will look at the implications of implementing this policy. In addition, the Ethics Committee will be consulting with members and staff on how we can improve our policies and training for members and staff regarding our policies.
  • The Speaker’s office along with Legislative Administration is reviewing our current operations for any existing violations of the legislature’s personnel policies. If any violations are found, they will be addressed
  • The Speaker’s office met with the Black Caucus, and Speaker Casada is in the process of scheduling a meeting with them to express his apologies for the racist texts sent by former Chief of Staff, Cade Cothren. The Black Caucus will be working with the Speaker’s office and other members and staff to create appropriate diversity training for members and

Lee and McNally weigh in on Casada text message scandal

Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), center, attends an economic development announcement in Nashville. At left is Gov. Bill Lee and on the far right is House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal).

Republican Gov. Bill Lee and Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) have issued statements on the text message scandal surrounding House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin).

Here’s what Lee had to say:

When we choose to enter public service, we have an obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard and cultivate an environment of professionalism and respect. We owe it to Tennesseans to ensure they know that all of us in elected office hold ourselves to that high standard. Recent revelations have shaken that faith, and we need to ensure that confidence is fully restored.

And here’s McNally:

Senate leadership and I are greatly disappointed by the inappropriate actions and attitudes revealed in recent news reports. Every person who interacts with the state legislature should be treated with the utmost respect. It is deeply troubling that some have fallen short of this standard. Tennesseans expect and deserve better from those who serve the public trust. Senate leadership is united in our commitment that members and staff continue to uphold the standard Tennesseans demand of their public officials.

Casada says support among GOP caucus remains ‘overwhelming’

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) presides over a floor session in Nashville on April 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Glen Casada says he still has “overwhelming” support among fellow Republicans in the chamber despite the resignation of of chief of staff amid allegations of racist text, drug use in his office, and soliciting sex acts with an intern and lobbyist.

“If you look at the results of what we’ve done in the House of Representatives, I think no one can dispute things have run smoother than they have in a generation, and we have had bold conservative leadership,” Casada told told WTN-FM’s Brian Wilson.

“Based on my conversations with them, they are proud to have someone in charge that’s leading them in a direction of making Tennessee the most conservative state,” he said.

The text message exchange included Cothren boasting to Casada about having sex with a woman in a Nashville restaurant they had attended together.

“I participated in locker room talk with two adult men that was not intended to go to anyone else and I was wrong,” the Franklin Republican said “In the last several years, that kind of talk has not entered or left my mouth.”

“I got caught up in the moment at that time, and participated in that text messaging the two adult men,” he said. “And that is not me today.”

Casada said the text messages were released by a “disgruntled employee” who vowed to take down Cothren and Casada after being fired.

“Cade did an excellent job. Three years ago, he came to me and said he had a problem. He said he was struggling. And he didn’t say what it was, but I knew what it was, and that he wanted a second chance to turn his life around. I gave him that and his did turn his life around,” Casada said.

“Why he is resigning is things that he did before he turned his life around,” he said. Casada denied prior knowledge of Cothren’s drug use or soliciting sex acts from other women at the Capitol complex.

Casada’s chief of staff resigns after sexual texts with intern

House Speaker Glen Casada’s Chief of Staff Cade Cothren following a whirlwind day of revelations including that he sent text messages soliciting sex acts from an intern and used cocaine in his legislative office, The Tennessean reports.

Cothren the top strategist for Casada’s campaign to nail down his election as speaker by getting involved in contested primaries for open Republican seats last year. Cothren also played a pivotal role in ensuring the razor-thin passage of Gov. Bill Lee’s school voucher bill.

“It was just a distraction,” Cothren told The Tennessean. “We’ve accomplished a lot of great things this year and I don’t want to take away from those for our caucus.”