Cade Cothren announced Monday he will resign as chief of staff for Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada.
“Effective immediately, my Chief of Staff, Cade Cothren has resigned from his position. As this story continued to evolve in recent days, I had additional conversations with Mr. Cothren, and he made this decision to resign. I thank Mr. Cothren for his service to our General Assembly and to the state of Tennessee,” Casada said in a statement released late Monday afternoon.
This, after new reports emerged alleging Cothren snorted cocaine at work and, in conversations with Casada, degraded women.
As reported, the Nashville-based News Channel 5 alleged late last week that Cothren forged an email to frame left-wing activist Justin Jones. The station also alleged Cothren sent racist text messages.
On Monday evening, The Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said Cothren’s exit was perhaps inevitable.
“As more texts and other information continued to pour forth it became increasingly apparent that Speaker Casada could not save his Chief of Staff from his own undeniablly poor decisions and inexcusable behavior, particularly in view of recent precedent regarding accusations against other legislators with little or no actual evidence,” Gill said.
“It appears that the actual misconduct is limited to Cothren — with the Speaker engaging in vulgar private locker room banter that is certainly embarrassing and hard to explain or justify in the harsh spotlight of public exposure. With Cothren’s exit, and if no proof of actual misconduct by Casada emerges, then the Speaker likely retains his position. But the best spin in the world can’t make this whole sordid episode look like a bright spot for the Legislature.”
Earlier in the day, and before Cothren resigned, he and Casada put out a joint press release. In it Casada said Cothren approached him three years ago and admitted he had “personal issues” and needed help.
“Knowing these issues were impacting his ability to fulfill his job duties, Mr. Cothren sought counseling and forgiveness, and has been doing an outstanding job ever since,” the press release quoted Casada as saying.
“Politics has become a game of ‘gotcha’ with no thought of forgiveness and starting anew. I choose to believe that we all deserve a shot at redemption. I gave Mr. Cothren this chance to prove himself, and that’s exactly what he’s done.”
In his portion of the press release earlier in the day, Cothren admitted to sending some of the texts News Channel 5 released to the public.
“While I’m not proud of who I was in the past; I am proud that, with God’s grace and a strong support system, I’ve been able to achieve so much in the years since. Like so many young, egotistical men aspiring to a career in politics that came before me, moving up the career ladder was met with unrelenting stress, peer pressure, and unrealistic expectations,” Cothren wrote.
“I know that this is not an excuse. Nonetheless, I unfortunately turned to maladaptive coping mechanisms. However, I thank God for these experiences because they’ve allowed me a unique opportunity to witness to the young men who will come after me that actions have consequences.”
Cothren then asked for “grace, acceptance, and forgiveness” as he continues to overcome his past.
Members of Casada’s office declined The Star’s request to ask follow-up questions.
Republican House Majority Leader William Lamberth said in an emailed statement the allegations against Cothren “shocked and disappointed” him.
“These allegations are grave and serious; I do not condone these actions, and they will not be tolerated,” Lamberth said.
Republican Caucus Chairman Cameron Sexton, meanwhile, said Cothren “made the best decision.”
“I appreciate Cade putting Tennessee’s interests first,” Sexton said.