NASHVILLE, TN — Members of the House Democratic Caucus are demanding the removal of Rep. Glen Casada as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Casada’s Chief of Staff Cade Cothren resigned yesterday after recent media reports that he used illegal drugs in the legislative building, solicited oral sex from an intern in a text message and also sent racist and sexist texts to others, including the Speaker. It is now clear that Speaker Casada participated in numerous acts that make his continued service as Speaker untenable, including:
• Casada joked with Cothren about a picture of a woman dancing on a pole, asking Cothren at one point, “Can I just touch?”, and saying “nice pics”.
• In another text, the two joked about how long a sexual encounter Cothren claimed to have with a woman lasted. Casada asked Cothren, “R u a minute man?” Cothren responded by saying, “Yes, I take after you. Like Father, like son.”
• Another exchange between the two included Cothren using a racist meme that was labeled “black people” when he was referring to a West Tennessee voting district.
Democratic Leader Karen Camper said: “Citizens of the State of Tennessee deserve to have a Speaker that they can trust; whose character and moral standards are beyond reproach. The actions of our Speaker are unbecoming and disrespectful, not only to the citizens of our state, but to the office he holds.” Caucus Chair Mike Stewart added: “Actions have consequences; Speaker Casada’s actions are obviously disqualifying and he must either resign or be removed.”
Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) made the statement below following news reports regarding the Office of the House Speaker:
“Senate leadership and I are greatly disappointed by the inappropriate actions and attitudes revealed in recent news reports. Every person who interacts with the state legislature should be treated with the utmost respect. It is deeply troubling that some have fallen short of this standard. Tennesseans expect and deserve better from those who serve the public trust. Senate leadership is united in our commitment that members and staff continue to uphold the standard Tennesseans demand of their public officials.”
The following is a statement from State Representative Bob Freeman (D-Nashville) on the status of House Speaker Glen Casada:
“As elected officials, we should be held to the highest moral and ethical standards. The facts made public over the past few days have proven to me that Speaker Casada has not held himself or his former Chief of Staff to those standards. Silence in the face of racism, bigotry and misogyny is as bad as the actions itself. For that reason, I am calling on him to resign as Speaker of the House immediately.”