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.”

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.


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