Nearly two weeks after the Tennessee State Capitol was roiled with reports of misconduct by House Speaker Glen Casada and his then-Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, Casada’s office has issued his most detailed response to the allegations to date. The Statement, first made available to Members of the House Republican Caucus, attempts to distinguish between claims that Casada says are true and those that are false.
Cothren himself answered many of the same allegations earlier this week in an exclusive interview with The Tennessee Star. The Star has also detailed the misreporting of various “facts” by certain media outlets over the past week.
In the statement, Casada points out: “In recent days, we have seen numerous false and misleading allegations and reports in the media and online related to actions taken by Speaker Glen Casada and this office. We think the public deserves to know the facts. As part of our action plan to bring greater clarity and transparency to the coverage of these issues, we have prepared this summary of some of the most outrageous and unsubstantiated charges and allegations.”
Casada acknowledges that “there were a small number of inappropriate text threads privately shared between then Tennessee House Caucus Chairman Casada, the House GOP press secretary Cade Cothren, and a disgruntled former employee in 2016.” He goes on to point out that he “has taken full responsibility for his inappropriate texting in 2016, and he has publicly and repeatedly apologized for his mistake.”
The statement goes on to completely repudiate several false reports, including claims that as Speaker, Casada was aware of or condoned several other outrageous and inappropriate text messages shared by Cade Cothren with at least one other former Casada staffer.
Casada also specifically denies any truth to the claims that he or his office were involved in altering or manipulating an email from Justin Jones in order to “frame” him.
The statement specifically notes that: “Confusion arose from Mr. Jones email being temporarily delayed by the legislature’s email security system and spam filters. Once this delay in delivery was discovered and identified by the Office of Legislative Information Services, this news was promptly shared by the former chief of staff with the Office of the District Attorney to prevent any negative action against Mr. Jones. We also provided this information to WTVF after their original story aired.”
The statement issued by the Speaker’s office also denies that any secret listening devices have been installed in legislative offices. It further notes that any monitoring of legislative committee rooms was by utilizing the exact same technology available to the Clerk of the House, the Speaker of the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate, and the audio/visual team of the Tennessee General Assembly.
Finally, the statement addressed the claims that “white noise” devices had been installed for “nefarious” purposes. “These claims are completely false. A white noise system, similar to those used by other state government agencies, the court system, and also in the private sector, was installed simply to cut down on the level of noise bleeding through multiple offices in the Speaker’s suite and was installed to minimize distraction, increase productivity, and to provide an appropriate level of office and staff privacy.”
Read the full release: