Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada is moving to handle the continued fallout over revelations that include allegedly inappropriate text messages involving him and former chief of staff Cade Cothren. Casada said he directed the Speaker’s office to cooperate with a District Attorney General’s Conference investigation of an email from activist Justin Jones.
Even as the pressure is ramping up for his resignation, Rep. Casada (R-TN-63) issued an action plan on Friday:
As we move into the weekend, I wanted to share a quick update on the immediate steps we are taking to follow up on the Action Plan released earlier this week to address recent issues and concerns.
Today I submitted a letter to the Chairman of the House Ethics Committee requesting that they issue an advisory opinion concerning my actions taken relative to the resignation of my former Chief of Staff. I welcome feedback from this bipartisan committee.
I have learned that a special prosecutor has been appointed by the District Attorney Generals’ Conference to begin investigating the email from Mr. Justin Jones that was forwarded by my former Chief of Staff to the local District Attorney. My desire is for this independent review to be completed as quickly and thoroughly as possible and for all of the facts to come out. To that end, I have instructed the Speaker’s office and the joint Legislative Information Services staff to fully and immediately comply with all requests for information related to that email made by the special prosecutor.
Finally, I support the call by some of my Republican members for an upcoming GOP Caucus meeting to continue to hear and address lingering concerns. I am confident the more my colleagues have actual facts before them the better.
We will continue to update you as we implement our Action Plan to bring clarity and transparency to this process, to reestablish trust where it has been broken, and to return to the people’s business.
In a series of tweets Friday, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally weighed in on the issue and concluded, “I believe it would be in the best interest of the legislature and the state of Tennessee for Speaker Casada to vacate his office at this time. (3/3)”.
It has been my goal over the past few days to allow the House of Representatives to address the issues they are facing without distraction. I am very aware that any comments from the other chamber can be counterproductive to their ongoing process. (1/3)
— Randy McNally (@ltgovmcnally) May 10, 2019
Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday said that if Casada was serving in his administration or his company, at this point, he would ask him to resign, WMC Action News 5 said. On Friday, the governor said that decision is up to the House.
The Tennessee Star reported Wednesday on an emergency conference call between Casada and members of the Republican House Caucus:
An emergency conference call hosted by House Speaker Glen Casada to address concerns among the 73 Republican caucus members over recent news stories involving Casada, his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren and claims that the legislative culture needs to be changed revealed fault lines in the caucus, according to several Members who were on the call. The call was conducted at 1 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, May 8.
“The call lasted about 45 minutes and Glen spoke about the issues that have arisen since late last week before opening it up for Members to ask questions or share their thoughts,” one Republican legislator confidentially told The Tennessee Star. “About a dozen of the legislators spoke up, some in support of Glen and a handful of others expressing their view that he should step down as Speaker. At this point, barring some new and significant revelation of misbehavior by Glen, I think the Caucus will continue to stand with him.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Photo “Glen Casada” by Glen Casada. Background Photo “Tennessee House Floor” by Tennessee Secretary of State.