mike carter

Carter raises concerns about Casada becoming ‘shadow speaker’

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

Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) is raising concerns that Glen Casada is trying to influence the outcome of the race to succeed him so he can act as the “shadow speaker” even after he’s no longer in charge of the chamber.

According to a report from Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Casada targeted Carter in an email to Republican colleagues for “using his position on the House Ethics Committee as a platform to run for Speaker, much in the same way he wrongfully accused me of trying to predetermine an outcome from the committee to remain as speaker.”

Carter issued a statement to the paper saying the email from Casada confirmed his concerns that the speaker’s efforts to remain in power until Aug. 2 “would be destructive” to the House.

Casada “is intent on using his position and his substantial PAC funding to punish those who dared to challenge him and to use his position to pick his successor so that he will, in effect, be the shadow speaker,” Carter said in the statement.

Casada’s email attacking Carter drew a rebuke from Rep. David Hawk.

“So, is this what our Republican House Caucus can expect from you over the next two months, as you intend to hang on as speaker?!” Hawk wrote to colleagues.

“Do you and your remaining supporters in the House continually intend to attack those of us who have rightfully called for your resignation? You, trying to assign blame to others for your downfall is wrong on multiple levels. Stop!”

Read Rep. Mike Carter’s letter seeking the speakership

Rep. Mike Carter takes the oath of office in Nashville on Jan 8, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) has sent a letter to Republican colleagues to declare his bid for the speakership. He pledges not to change any committee chairmanships, though he calls for an overhaul of the chamber’s rules to promote integrity. Carter says he would return most political functions to the House Republican Caucus chairman.

Carter is the second member to declare his candidacy after Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough).

Read the full letter below.

Members,

Today I am writing to request your support to serve as your Speaker. I am not asking you to serve me. I am asking for the high honor to serve you and the state of Tennessee.

I state this now, no Chairmanship, no Vice-Chairmanship, nor any other title or position currently held shall be removed. To allow that would give our opponents an opportunity to claim that any removal of a title is reflective of some conduct unbecoming of that representative. Considering what we have been through and realizing that conservative leadership is essential to the progress of Tennessee, we must balance every appearance against the effect on the reelection of our members.

I will form a PAC for the benefit of the members and work diligently to restore confidence with our contributors. I will assist the Caucus Chairman whenever he feels the office of Speakership is helpful for raising money.

We must reestablish the past tradition of the Caucus Chairman being the primary political figure. In my view the Speaker shall promote a culture to restore the trust of the citizens of Tennessee while encouraging great legislation we can be proud of and run on.

A Speaker’s leadership advisory team shall be established consisting of those who do not hold Chairman or Vice-Chairmanship positions of leadership so that the opinions of all shall direct the House. With the atmosphere we’re facing we must not only live in a glass bubble we must, with the consent of the Caucus, develop new rules and procedures to prove that integrity and trust has returned to the House of Representatives. Tennessee: First in integrity.

We must undertake a complete review of all policies, procedures and rules for committees and officers.

We will continue to lead as an equal branch of government cooperating with all but cowering to none. The House controls the purse, a duty and responsibility which we will take seriously and devote appropriate assets to lead the budget process.

You will be able to walk the halls and talk in your office without fear of eavesdropping.

Members will not be intimidated, and under no circumstance shall a member be threatened with a primary opponent because of any vote taken. They should at all times vote their conscience and district.

The bylaws of the House of Representatives Republican Caucus state, ”the speaker shall conduct his or herself with the highest ethical and moral standards representing the citizens of Tennessee and the Republican Caucus.” If we are to restore public trust, a clean break is imperative. The people of Tennessee both demand and deserve it.

Respectfully submitted,

/Mike Carter/

Mike Carter

State Representative

District 29

 

Casada denounces Carter criticism as a ‘disgrace’

House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) attends a House Education Committee meeting in Nashville on March 27, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House Speaker Glen Casada is condemning criticism from fellow Republican Rep. Mike Carter as “a deliberate attempt to mislead and an absolute disgrace.”

Carter this week issued a lengthy statement denouncing what he called efforts by the speaker to “rig and predetermine” the findings of an advisory opinion by the House Ethics Committee to cast him in the best possible light before a GOP caucus meeting to determine whether he still has the support of his colleagues amid a text messaging scandal.

Carter forwarded the statement to the full caucus on Friday, and Casada responded with the following email:

From: Glen Casada
Date: May 17, 2019 at 5:51:16 PM EDT
Subject: RE: Statement

[Excerpt from Carter email:] “I could argue that the text messages are disqualifying. I could argue that knowing and failing to report felony criminal conduct is his presence is disqualifying. I could argue that spending $7 million to operate his office more that Speaker Beth Harwell is disqualifying but respectfully I state that attempting to pre-determine an opinion from the Ethics Committee is the final straw for me.”

Members,
The above paragraph was lifted from a letter just submitted to each and every one of you from Representative Mike Carter. I copy and paste it so you can read it and understand this as another example of absolute fiction being perpetuated as fact.

I readily admit to each of you that I sent inappropriate text messages three years ago that made inappropriate jokes about women. If you believe the handful of texts that I sent disqualify me as Speaker, then I must accept that and move on.

I have not or would never fail to report any felony conduct. This District Attorney is in the midst of concluded his investigation into emails sent by my office and I remain confident that my staff and I will be cleared of any wrongdoing very soon.

I have not spent $7 million more than Speaker Harwell on operating expenses. The Governor included $4 million for the House and $2 million for the Senate in his proposed budget because there has not been an increase in the legislative budget in quite some time. After conferring with the Senate, the amount was reduced to roughly $3 million for the House and $1.5 for the Senate. My plan is to use this money for across the board salary increases for staff. If any member would like for me to do otherwise I am happy to discuss it further.

Finally, to address the most maddening allegation made to date, I have done absolutely nothing to influence any work of the Ethics Committee. Period. To suggest so is a slap in the face to any legal staffer or committee member who actually attempted to work on the advisory opinion that I requested. The Ethics Committee is split 5-5 in a bipartisan manner and I asked for the request in earnest. If anyone would like to call me, including Representative Carter, I’m happy to discuss it further.

This letter is nothing more than a deliberate attempt to mislead and an absolute disgrace from someone that should know better. At the very least, he should have had the decency to call me first.

Respectfully,
Glen

Ethics Committee member calls for Casada to resign over effort to ‘rig and predetermine’ report

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

Rep. Mike Carter of Ooltewah is the latest Republican member to call for Glen Casada to step down as speaker following a text message scandal.

Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports Carter refused to sign a draft of an advisory opinion.

“After reviewing the facts as presented I advised that the facts did not appear to be in line with the documents existing in the public realm,” Carter said in a statement.

“If the requestor is willing to rig and predetermine an outcome of the ethics committee this week he is in my opinion he is not fit to hold the trust of his office or the state of Tennessee.”

Here is the full statement from Carter:

In my prior statement I felt that no decision be made on the future of Glen Casada until all the facts were known and the investigation was completed. The facts are not fully known and my understanding is the investigation is in its infancy. However, with great reluctance and a heavy heart, I now feel moved to call for the resignation of Speaker Casada based on the facts that i now know.

On Friday May 10th I received a letter asking me to attend a meeting in Nashville wherein members of the Ethics Committee would be interviewed separately and individually prior to a regular meeting.

Upon my arrival of the 9th floor of the Cordell Hull building, Legislative Legal Services Offices, I was met by journalists and cameras together with four Democrats and myself. I waited until my name was called for my private interview.

I was given a statement of facts setting forth the Speaker’s position on many of the issues that have been raised. During my 6 years on the Ethics Committee, I have never received a request for an advisory opinion from a legislator concerning his own conduct. Nevertheless, I agreed to participate as long as the opinion rendered was based upon facts that would withstand scrutiny.

After reviewing the facts as presented I advised that the facts did not appear to be in line with the documents existing in the public realm. At the immediate conclusion of my review of the statement of facts I was handed a 2 or 3 page advisory opinion, bearing signature lines [for] all 10 [Ethics Committee] members, which based upon the facts presented, found no ethical violations.

I was stunned that facts had been produced with an exonerating advisory opinion written for which no ethics committee member had input.

I was not allowed to leave with any documents from the meeting. I inquired as to the author of the opinion and was advised legal counsel for the committee had written the opinion. I immediately advised those present that I would not be signing the advisory opinion. I did however agree to sign the advisory opinion and adopt it as my own if the Speaker would state under oath that the facts stated were true and correct. I was advised that would not happen.

I was further advised that the opinion was accurate because it was based upon the facts as presented and was limited to those facts. That the opinion had no import if the facts weren’t correct. That explanation was not sufficient to me. After considering the entire situation, I decided i would sign the advisory opinion if I could modify that opinion to clearly state that the facts upon which the opinion was rendered appear to be divergent from facts in the public record. I advised that I would sign the opinion if I was allowed to write the final paragraph and attach this letter of facts to the opinion as exhibit A.

I understood my request would be honored and that I should go and develop that language and bring it to the 1:30 [Monday] meeting with the full committee. To my knowledge I was the only Republican invited to the pre meeting and the only Republican to see the fact letter or the advisory opinion.

I left the 9th floor and went to my office on the 6th floor. On the trip to my office, 3 staff members asked if i was ok. Each commenting that my face was red and my blood pressure might be high. Considering those comments I decided to leave and go for a walk outside. Within 5 minutes I exited Cordell Hull and was less than a block [when] I received a message that the 1:30 meeting had been canceled. To my recollection no reason was given.

It was discussed that the opinion would be used as an exoneration of the Speaker’s conduct. Further that if it is to used for such purposes, it must be done with accuracy and integrity befitting the Ethics Committee.

As with some I hold forgiveness as the greatest virtue. Being the beneficiary of forgiveness many times I am eager to offer it to my fellow man. What was said or done 3 yeas ago deserves to be considered in the light of that person’s life journey at that point.

My concern with the meeting is that it shows a heart for misrepresentation and political maneuvering to save the requestor’s office even at a loss of reputation and integrity of the House Ethics Committee.

This is the most egregious act I have been made aware of. It is not an allegation of past conduct it is proof of present state of mind and present conduct. In my 6 years on the Ethics panel this is wholly without precedent. If the requestor is willing to rig and predetermine an outcome of the ethics committee this week he is in my opinion he is not fit to hold the trust of his office or the state of Tennessee.

I could argue that the text messages are disqualifying. I could argue that knowing and failing to report felony criminal conduct in his presence is disqualifying. I could argue that spending 7 million dollars to operate his office more than Speaker Beth Harwell is disqualifying but respectfully I state that attempting to pre-determine an opinion from the Ethics Committee is the final straw for me.

Respectfully I submit that no other facts are needed. If the ethics panel is not a sacred and trusted institution above rank political maneuvering and conniving then we as a body are lost. I respectfully now call for the immediate resignation of the Speaker. For the good of the people of Tennessee it is time the Republican Caucus lead, not follow, stand straight and firm, not cowering to political threats and pressures, to follow our oaths of office and to vote to remove the speaker.

Knowing this statement will bring political retribution on me and therefore the people of District 29 I make these facts known out of an understanding that my oath as a state representative requires such action and leaves no alternative.