house republicans

Cothren attorney criticizes, confirms TNJ reporting on volatile meeting with GOP leaders

Cade Cothren, speaking on phone, attends a meeting with lawmakers and fellow staffers on the balcony outside the House chamber on April 29, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

An attorney for indicted former House staffer Cade Cothren has issued a statement criticizing The Tennessee Journal’s reporting about a heated chance encounter with current members of House Republican leadership. According to lawyer Cynthia Sherwood, the TNJ’s account is “riddled with inaccuracies that would take a total rewrite.” But she then goes on to confirm much of what appeared in the publication — and even expand on what occurred at the Nashville restaurant on President’s Day.

Here are the first three paragraphs of the story as it appeared in the print edition of this week’s Tennessee Journal:

House Republican leaders were caught in an uncomfortable situation when they ran into a controversial colleague and an indicted former top legislative staffer at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in Nashville recently, witnesses recounted to The Tennessee Journal this week.

House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison of Cosby heard Rep. Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill) was at the restaurant, so he walked over to the booth to say hello. Warner, who had his legislative office searched by the FBI in 2021, turned out to be dining with Cade Cothren, the former House chief of staff, and his girlfriend, Ava Korby. The latter angrily denounced Faison for his role in pushing out former Speaker Glen Casada of Franklin and because her mother, onetime legislative assistant Nadine Korby, had been fired after her computer was searched during the federal raid.

Faison noticed current House Speaker Cameron Sexton of Crossville — Casada’s successor — wandering toward the table and quickly wheeled away to walk him out the door before he could become the target of Cothren and Korby’s wrath. Just as they stepped outside, House Majority Leader William Lamberth of Portland approached the table and was subjected to a dressing down by both Korby and Coth­ren, with the latter shouting a profanity at him.

And here is what Cothren’s legal team had to say about it:

As Cade has promised from day one, he will be taking full advantage of the opportunity to prove his innocence in court, no matter who may find it uncomfortable. Unnamed sources continuing to attack Cade in the media may not find it so easy to spread their lies once they are under oath.

Recently, while enjoying dinner at a local restaurant, Cade was interrupted by Majority Leader William Lamberth and Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison, who barged their way up to Cade’s table and forced their way into his conversation uninvited.

Rather than harassing Cade, a private citizen at a restaurant, or going after a young lady in an anonymous article, I would hope Tennessee Republicans could focus on doing honest work for the citizens of our state.

Correcting the Tennessee Journal article riddled with inaccuracies would take a total rewrite, but for starters:

— Cade never left his seat, nor sought conversation. His own dinner conversation was interrupted when Republican Leadership forced their way in uninvited.

— Contrary to the events imagined in the article, Ava Korby simply reminded Chairman Faison that he knew her mother, and, in fact, trusted her mother enough to babysit his children. Ava criticized Chairman Faison for standing by while her mother was fired for no reason. Chairman Faison assured her “I love your mom” and blamed Speaker Cameron Sexton for the firing.

— Despite previous self-serving statements in the media attacking Cade’s integrity and innocence, Leader Lamberth stepped away from the table and privately told Ava, “I care about Cade, I would love to talk to him … he really hurt my feelings when he left [the legislature in 2019].”

These private comments are directly contrary to House Republican Leaders’ repeated public attacks through the media, which is why my client, Cade Cothren, did indeed tell Leader Lamberth to “go f**k himself.”

It’s unclear which parts of the missive are meant to highlight conflicts with the TNJ account. Cothren’s attorney even confirms he hurled a profanity at Lamberth. Though we hear the f-bomb also invoked the lawmaker’s mother.


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