Tennessee House Speaker Embroiled in Texting Scandal Resigns After No Confidence Vote
|thenorthstar||May 23, 2019|
Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada announced he will resign from the speakership following a vote of no confidence by the Republican caucus amid an inappropriate texting scandal. Many have called on Casada to also resign from his position in the House.
“When I return to town on June 3, I will meet with caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as speaker so that I can help facilitate a smooth transition,” Casada said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. Casada had previously rebuked calls for his resignation from members of both parties and Republican Governor Bill Lee. He also brushed off the no confidence vote from his Republican caucus. The embattled speaker claimed he would work to regain his colleagues’ trust.
Lee applauded Casada’s resignation after it was revealed that Casada and his former chief of staff had exchanged inappropriate text messages of a sexual nature about women. “Speaker Casada has made the right decision, and I look forward to working with the legislature to get back to conducting the people’s business and focusing on the issues that matter most to our state,” Lee said in a statement.
Not all Republicans were happy with Casada’s resignation. State Representative Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) said on May 21 that he wants a special legislative session to remove Casada as a member of the General Assembly, the Times Free Press reported. Carter said that Casada’s resignation “left me with more questions than answers. No date was given, and there was no statement that he would resign [from] the House as well as his speaker position.” He said that it would be difficult to work with Casada following the no-confidence vote and said it could “fractionalize the Republican Caucus.”
Carter did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for further comment on the issue. His remarks were praised by Representative Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg), who said Carter’s opinion “speaks truthfully to the situation at hand,” the Times Free Press reported. While Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) said it would be a “challenge” having Casada remain in the House and encouraged him to resign completely.
House Democrats originally called for Casada to resign, telling The North Star that Casada “participated in numerous acts that make his continued service as Speaker untenable.” In a statement, House Minority Leader Karen Camper said that Tennessee residents deserve a speaker they can trust, “whose character and moral standards are beyond reproach.”
House Minority Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart did not immediately respond to The North Star’s inquiries about whether House Democrats would join the resignation push. Casada became involved in a drug and sex scandal involving his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, on May 6. Lewd text messages from 2016 between the two men became public on May 6, prompting Cothren’s resignation. Cothren, who also confirmed he had used cocaine in the legislative office building, also reportedly sent racist text messages.
The speaker initially denied the racist and lewd text messages, but eventually acknowledged and defended them as “locker room talk.” Residents of Williamson County, part of which Casada represents, also said they want him to step down from the Tennessee legislature. Heather Cornett, a 22-year-old Williamson County resident, told the Tennessean that Casada showed hubris in remaining in elected office.
Cornett said that those who run for office are asking for the privilege of representing the best interests of the constituents. “Allowing representatives like Glen Casada to remain in office sends a message that women and people of color are not deserving of the respect, protection and representation that they are promised under the Constitution,” she said.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.