Gov. Bill Lee offers thoughts on GOP caucus meeting on Casada

Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) is sworn in a as speaker of the House on Jan. 9., 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee spoke to reporters on Monday morning about his thoughts going into the special House Republican Caucus meeting on whether members still have confidence in the leadership of Speaker Glen Casada. Lee has said he would have fired Casada if he worked in the executive branch or for his private company, but that the decision over the speaker’s fate lies with members of the House.

Q: What’s your take on Casada developments?

Lee: There’s a vote today that will be important and we’ll learn a lot about that. The legislature, it’s their decision, it’s their vote. So we’ll be watching and see what happens.

Q: What’s your hope?

Lee: My hope is that they exercise their ability to the leader, and they’ll do so to back Casada with a vote of confidence or no confidence. That’s a process that’s important. The speaker himself has said that’s important.

Q: No matter what happens, you have the ability to call for a special session. Are you willing to make that call?

Lee: that’s premature. This meeting, and what happens in this meeting, will be important. And we’ll see what happens before we start any conversations beyond that.

Q: If they do pass no confidence, will you consider a special session?

Lee: It’s something to consider, but we’ll have to wait and what they do vote on first.

Q: Have you had contact with Casada since the scandal broke.

Lee: I haven’t. I haven’t spoken with him.

Q: Rep. Carter accused him of trying to rig the Ethics Committee report. Does that push you toward saying maybe he should step down.

Lee: I don’t know what took place in those Ethics Committee meetings. Like everything that has happened in the last few weeks, we just have to watch and see how the legislature weighs what’s happened, and their decision because of it.

Q: Would that be a reason to call a special session.

I think the legislature will determine, they will signal if they want a special session to consider that sort of thing. But again, it’s premature.

Q: If you were a House member how would you vote?

Lee: That’s a hypothetical question, I will leave that up to the House of Representatives.

Q: You’ve been careful with your words the last couple of weeks –

Lee: — There’s a reason I’m being very careful. Because there’s a separation between the executive branch to the legislative branch. It’s very important and there’s a reason for that. This is a decision the House of Representatives and that branch of government needs to make. So I’m intentional in recognizing that separation of government. IT’s important that it’s set up that way and it’s important that we carry it out that way.

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