house republican caucus

Casada loses confidence vote, 45-24

House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville speak to reporters about a no-confidence vote on House Speaker Glen Casada’s leadership. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican House Speaker Glen Casada was dealt a stunning rebuke by his caucus on Monday in a 45-22 vote to declare the members had lost confidence in his ability to lead the chamber.

Casada, who was only elected speaker in January, had hoped to weather the storm surrounding his office following revelations he had engaged in lewd text message exchanges with his former chief of staff, and that the aide had once taken cocaine in his office and propositioned interns and lobbyists.

The meeting was closed to the media. A secret ballot determined the outcome.

Casada told members he will work to regain their confidence in the coming months, meaning he doesn’t plan to step aside.

UPDATE: State Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden is now calling for Casada to resign:

The vote of no confidence by the Republican caucus sends a clear message; it is time for the Speaker to heed the advice of the majority of his fellow legislators and step down from his position of leadership and allow someone else to begin the process of restoring the trust of all Tennesseans.

UPDATE 2: House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) is calling for a special session to replace Casada:

After today’s vote, it is time for the Speaker to resign, and I hereby request Governor Lee call a special session by the end of June for the House to choose a new Speaker.

Censure vs. no confidence: What does it mean?

Speculation is running rampant in advance of Mondays special House Caucus meeting about what actions will be pursued against House Speaker Glen Casada amid the scandal embroiling his office.

Some see a censure vote as less damning for Casada than a vote of no confidence. But it’s unclear what the latter would accomplish given that there’s nothing in the House GOP bylaws that lays out the penalties if the motion is successful. On the other hand, here’s what the bylaws say about a censure:

DISCIPLINARY ACTION
A member can be censured with a recommendation of the majority of leadership and a
vote of 2/3 of the Caucus. A vote of censure can take any or all of the following actions

• a letter of reprimand to be kept on file for public viewing;

• denial of attendance at a caucus function or functions;

• denial of caucus funding;

• recommendation to the state party for disqualification;

• other actions may be brought with a vote of four-fifths of the membership.

One key thing to remember on a censure is that it would take the majority of the leadership to even bring the motion to a vote. Leadership is defined as the speaker, speaker pro tem, majority leader, caucus chair, assistant leader, whip, floor leader, vice chair, secretary and treasurer. A majority would mean six votes if all 10 leaders are in attendance.

We are hearing that Casada will be given an opportunity to address the members (attendance is expected to be in the 60s out of a total of 73 Republicans), after which he will be asked to leave the room so the members can discuss matters freely.

Today’s the day for Casada to sink or swim. Or is it?

The state House Republican Caucus meets Monday afternoon at a Nashville hotel to decided whether embattled Speaker Glen Casada still has their confidence to lead the chamber.

Casada has been furiously lobbying members not to cast him aside. One idea that’s been floated is for the caucus to vote on whether to censure the speaker rather than pass a no-confidence motion, with the former being considered less fatal to his prospects to remain speaker.

Another option is for the caucus to simply vote down the no-confidence motion.

Any outcome, however, is bound to leave the speaker in a severely weakened position.

One of Casada’s major challenges is that just about every rumor floated about him feels like it might have some credence — no matter how outlandish it sounds. That means the Franklin Republican is constantly on the defensive, trying to slap down the latest whispers.

The lastest rumor spreading around the Capitol is that Casada has allegedly promised to support a primary challenger of Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) after she declared the speaker should step aside (and also because she earlier voted against the school voucher bill). Casada aides and House Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton of Crossville say they are unaware of any such arrangement.

Meanwhile, Republican State Executive Committee member Randy Ellis of Harriman issued a statement calling on Casada resign as speaker:

The continued drama involving Speaker Casada has quickly turned into a National embarrassment it’s time for the Speaker to step aside and allow for new leadership. This ordeal has overshadowed all the hard work and accomplishments our legislature has worked so hard for during the last session.

It is time to end this prolonged drama. For the sake of our great party and the state of Tennessee, I call for Speaker Casada to step down as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

 

Here’s the letter calling for the GOP caucus meeting on Casada

Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) speaks to fellow Republicans about his bid for House speaker on Nov. 20, 2018. He was later nominated for the position by 47 of 73 members. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here is the letter calling for the secret House Republican Caucus meeting about Glen Casada’s speakership amid a text messaging scandal, as obtained by Stephen Elliott of the Nashville Scene.

The letter calls on Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton to “conduct the meeting in such a way as to protect the Speaker and the Caucus concerning the dissemination of the vote or comments made therein.”

THIS IS A CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION INTENDED ONLY FOR THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS. NO DISSEMINATION OF THIS COMMUNICATION ORALLY OR IN WRITING IS PERMITTED.

5/10/2019

Dear Chairman Sexton:

Pursuant to the House Republican Caucus bylaws, the undersigned members, being ten (10) or more, hereby respectfully request a Caucus meeting to be held in Nashville, Tennessee at the earliest possible date.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the sentiment of the Caucus regarding support for Speaker Glen Casada and to conduct, if duly moved by the Caucus, a secret ballot vote to establish whether Speaker Casada has the support of the Caucus to continue in his current position as Speaker of the House of Representatives. The overarching goal is that we move forward as a constructive, united Caucus for the House as a body on behalf of all Tennesseans. The meeting is called for these purposes and no other.

We request the meeting be held offsite and only Caucus members be permitted to attend. We request that you as Caucus Chair develop whatever rules you deem necessary to conduct the meeting in such a way as to protect the Speaker and the Caucus concerning the dissemination of the vote or comments made therein.

The signatures of the members below should not be construed as indicating any particular position they may take at the meeting.

Regards,

/Jerry Sexton/

Other signatories:

Rep. Mike Carter, Ooltewah

Rep. Ron Gant, Rossville

Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, Signal Mountain

Rep. Dan Howell, Cleveland

Rep. Chris Hurt, Halls

Rep. Justin Lafferty, Knoxville

Rep. John Ragan, Oak Ridge

Rep. Jay Reedy, Erin

Rep. Chris Todd, Jackson

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, Lancaster

Rep. Jason Zachary, Knoxville

Public to be barred from GOP meeting on Casada’s future

Members of the House Republican Caucus vote on a motion during a meeting to elect their nominee for speaker in Nashville on Nov. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The public was invited to attend the House Republican Caucus meeting in November in which Rep. Glen Casada was elected as the nominee for speaker.

Not so for the meeting scheduled for Monday to decide whether members still have confidence in Casada’s leadership amid a scandal involving lewd and racist text messages.

House GOP spokesman Doug Kufner said the meeting will be limited to members of the caucus. That’s at the request of those who called for the gathering, he said. Reps. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) and Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) have been identified as gathering the 10 signatures needed to hold the caucus meeting.

Some members have been told they could be required to check their mobile phones at the door for fear of details being leaked to public.

Gant: ‘We can all recognize the severity of what is happening’

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) checks his phone in the House chamber in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Rep. Ron Gant, the assistant House majority leader, is issuing a call for a caucus meeting to discuss the fallout from the text messaging scandal enveloping Glen Casada’s speakership.

“With all the vitriol playing out before our eyes; personally, I find myself thinking that if this is what public service has come to then I may want to serve the community that I love in another way,” wrote Gant.

It’s unclear whether Gant’s call for a caucus meeting differs from once sought by Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville), which the latter has described as involving a “vote of confidence” for the speaker.

Here’s the full statement from Gant (formatted for clarity):

I believe in our government and I believe in the people of our great state, but my heart has been heavy over the last couple of weeks. With all the vitriol playing out before our eyes; personally, I find myself thinking that if this is what public service has come to then I may want to serve the community that I love in another way. It’s no wonder why good people don’t want to serve in politics with all the viciousness and hatred towards one another that takes place.

I believe we all can recognize the severity of what is happening. We are all looking for direction and understanding at this time. Therefore, as the Assistant Majority Leader I’m calling for a caucus meeting within the coming days. I want to thank those who have reached out to me personally over the last few days, I value your input greatly.

After much thought and prayer; along with hearing from my district and various fellow house members, I feel it is imperative that we meet as a caucus and seek a direction as members of the Tennessee House of Representatives. I would encourage us to consider the counsel of Micah “He has shown you, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

I ask that we each pray and seek our Heavenly Father for His wisdom and direction as we move forward.