D.A.’s Office: Jones Email Situation Up to Coffee County Now, No Further Casada Investigations (Yet)

We had been trying to get some questions answered about the situation surrounding Justin Jones, a civil rights activist who nearly had his bond revoked for sending an email to Speaker Casada’s office after a no-contact order, which we now know he did not do, and it seems the date on the email in question may have been altered.

The case has been passed off to a special prosecutor because District Attorney Glenn Funk’s office has determined it has a conflict of interest. After a number of unanswered emails we found our way to Steve Hayslip, who handles communications for Funk’s office. He spoke with us today. Below is that conversation in full.

HOLLER: With the Justin Jones investigation, one of the questions that seems to be outstanding is the scope of the Special Prosecutor’s investigation… are they looking into Justin? Or are they looking into the email discrepancy?

HAYSLIP: That would be completely up to the Coffee County D.A. Once the District Attorneys General Conference selected them – and however that process was done I’m not sure, but it’s basically an umbrella group that oversees all the judicial districts in the state of Tennessee… when we have a conflict of interest, or when any of the 31 districts have a conflict of interest, they would appeal to the conference, the overall umbrella organization, and say “Hey look we can’t handle this case, we have some sort of reason why we can’t move forward with our prosecution, we request that you select another jurisdiction to take that over.” We basically asked for them to select another jurisdiction. They selected Coffee County. So Coffee County will now handle the entire scope of the Jones investigation. It’ll be up to them to decide how far they want to go in looking at the emails, if that’s part of their choosing, and even the charges defendant Jones is facing right now. I hate to pass the buck, but it’s completely up to them.

HOLLER: Can I ask why it was decided there was a conflict of interest?

HAYSLIP: Given the fact that we had received the email that became controversial, and we could not verify its authenticity – given the fact that we received it, and we were going to be acting upon it, and luckily we didn’t because we couldn’t verify the authenticity of it… so when we couldn’t verify the authenticity, that’s when we pulled that motion to revoke his bond. We’re not going to say someone violated their bond when we have a shred of uncertainty about the validity of that email. And that’s exactly how we felt. When our Assistant District Attorney saw those two differing dates he said “Wait a minute, hold on. We Gotta pull the car over to the side of the road.” We’re not gonna move forward. We’re certainly not going to deny someone their liberty based on information we cannot prove to be true. And if there’s any uncertainty we’re not going to move forward. So that’s why we struck the motion to revoke the bond… at that point we’re just waiting on I.T. to give us the reasoning why there were differing dates. As time kept going, it was the end of the legislative session, we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt to let us know, ok we’re waiting to find out why there are 2 different dates on this email. As time drew closer and the legislative session was coming to an end, District Attorney Funk realized we can’t prosecute this case because we were the recipient of this email that’s in question. These dates that were in question. We can’t be both a potential witness to something that may have happened – if that date was not authentic, we’ve become a witness to that, and at the same time we’re turning around and trying to prosecute based on that information? That’s  why we realized we needed to pass this on to the District Attorneys General Conference, have them choose another jurisdiction to take this over. 

HOLLER: When you passed it on, was there any recommendation made as to anything concerning the case?

HAYSLIP: Absolutely not. Nope, absolutely not. Other than the fact that we’ve received an email that we cannot verify the authenticity.

HOLLER: So you did say that? You made them aware of what was happening?

HAYSLIP: Yes.

HOLLER: Is there any other investigation happening through your office surrounding anything involving Glen Casada?

HAYSLIP: Not to my knowledge. At this point I don’t think there is right now. And I don’t know if there will be in the future. I don’t think anyone has requested it. As far as I know everything is all tied to the email, and that’s in the hands of Coffee County. How far they want to dive into that is completely up to them.

HOLLER: One of the reports in the last few days was about Speaker Casada paying a staffer to handle political duties – something like a $50,000 staffer that doesn’t have to show up to work that was drafting attacks on Rep. Byrd’s accusers. Is that the D.A. office’s purview? Megan Barry got in trouble for even less than that financially dollar-wise. Is that something the District Attorney’s office would look into?

HAYSLIP: I think if it was brought to our attention we’d have to review it and find out whether or not that falls within our scope. We’d look at it and if it’s not in our scope we’d send it to the proper authority.

SPEAKER CASADA, A TIMELINE: 2012-2019

Timeline of Some of Tennessee Speaker of The House of Representatives Glen Casada’s Actions and Statements

FROM 2012-2019

Compiled by Tina Cahalan Jones

 

2003 

 Casada elected to TN House of Representative

2009

 Casada a plaintiff in failed “birther” lawsuit against President Obama

2012

 Josh Smith, owner of the Standard Club (popular with lawmakers) starts a PAC

2013

 Jeremy Durham involved in prescription drug fraud probe in Williamson Co; Glenn Funk involved as defense counsel
 Lawmakers were using $3k donations from the Standard PAC to pay their $3k dues to the Standard

2014

 February 2014Casada backed legislation cutting off welfare recipients who test positive for drugs, saying “If taxpayers are going to support you there are certain criteria you need to adhere to.”
 February 2014 in a text conversation Casada Chief Of Staff Cade Cothren discussed an intern’s attractive appearance. “I’m gonna keep hitting on her just to see what happens.
 Durham had sex in his legislative office w/20-year-old college student
 Grand Jury could not come to a “true bill” decision on Durham and did not indict re drug charges
 Dec 2014 Durham narrowly elected House whip – specifically thanked Casada “for his vocal support: Casada “This is a perfect role for Representative Durham

2015 

 Cothren, while working as spokesman for House Republican Caucus – which Casada chaired – sends text saying “black people are idiots.” (CASADA: “If I received that, I don’t remember. If I had seen it, you would have seen another text coming from me saying ‘this has to stop’ because I know me. I know I would have responded that way if I had seen that text.”)
 Cothren texted: “just did a gram of cocaine in my office.” At 10:38 a.m. on a work day
 April 2015 Cothren via text solicited oral sex and nude photos from an intern. He also asked her whether she was wearing underwear and attempted to pivot the topic of a conversation to orgasms.
 May 2015 Durham engaged in illegal campaign finance transactions
 Summer 2015 Casada becomes aware of sexual harassment allegations against Durham but takes no action
 December 2015 Casada says he didn’t think the two allegations [drugs and sexual harassment] “should or do disqualify him [Durham] from leadership”; said he considered the drug abuse allegations were “case closed”; Cade Cothren involved in messaging

2016 

 About Jan 5, Casada and other GOP leadership staffer told of new sexual harassment allegations against Durham
 Jan 12 Republican Caucus met to decide whether to strip Durham of leadership position – debate got hung up in procedural wrangling and vote to proceed on discussion failed
 Jan 13 Republicans introduced a bill placing responsibility for legal fees on plaintiffs who lose sexual harassment claims against state and local gov’t employees – House Bill 1679
 Jan 24 Tennessean investigation found Durham acted inappropriately towards 22 women puts the pressure on Durham to resign
 Jan 24th Durham resigned from leadership position as House Majority Whip, Casada stood by him until the very end when he finally joined calls for his resignation saying “it was the mature thing to do” but not calling for ouster from House
 Jan 27 Durham left the Caucus voluntarily / Casada: “If the rumors about Durham are true then he needs to focus on his family and receiving the help that he needs.” – but no call for resignation from the legislature, as Speaker Harwell and other members of the GOP were doing
 Jan 28 Casada: “Have we not all heard rumors? . . .Not one of them had proof or evidence. . . “Says he informed the victims of the legislative sexual harassment policy . . . / confirmed he had heard of rumors for months – but evidently did nothing
 March 2 HB 1679 shift in economic burden to some victims of sexual harassment passed House, Casada and Durham voted “yes”; effective June 1
 Early April state attorney general issued a report midway through his investigation about Durham calling him a “continuing risk” to women; then speaker Harwell, the Governor, and other GOP leaders again called for his resignation from the legislature / Casada did not join them
 April 21 Despite not joining calls for Durham’s resignation, Casada did sign onto a letter calling for the firing of a high-ranking GOP official b/c his wife was working as a consultant challenging GOP incumbents
 May 2016 Cothren sent text message to Casada, but he did not respond- “I have many miles and many girls to go before I sleep”
 May 2016 despite Durham no longer being in the caucus and being under severe scrutiny Casada attended a fundraiser for him in Franklin
 Casada said because Durham has denied the allegations he is willing to support him, “If there is direct evidence refuting his words to me, that would change everything.”
 Campaign Finance Allegations. June 2016 Allegations re Durham campaign finance problems come to light – Casada says “if true” Durham should resign but distinguishes between them and the sexual harassment allegations saying, “This [the campaign finance allegations] is empirical, this is measurable, it’s is his own words indicting him where the harassment charges were he said this and she said this” 
 Casada admits he didn’t lose faith in Durham until the allegations turned financial: “When you invest a lot in somebody you hope against hope that maybe it was incorrect and I knew it wasn’t. At that point I knew it was over.”
 His financials showed that Durham paid Michael Lofti’s consulting firm $51,000 (while he was Andy Holt’s Legislative Aide – $9k was later refunded) and paid Andy Holt $500 for “office supplies”
 July 2016 House committee re Durham’s sexual harassment – recommended leaving it up to the voters
 July 2016 Attorney General report about Durham – recommended expulsion – Casada: “[Durham] lied to me” – continued to prior knowledge of Durham’s behavior, called Durham’s behavior “an isolated incident”
 July 2016 Cothren texted a picture of a female friend pole dancing to Casada. / Casada responded, “Nice pics.” / Cothren: “Hands to yourself :)”/ Casada: “Can I just touch?” / Cothren: “Lol okay maybe just once.”/ Casada: “Lol.”
 Late July 2016 – Casada tries to tie a vote on expelling Durham to a vote on expelling a Democratic lawmaker who was facing charges for tax evasion
 August – Cothren texted Casada about a sexual encounter he had with a woman, “Just so y’all know, I did f—k (woman) in the bathroom at party fowl . . . Will send pictures later,” / Casada’s responded: “Only gone for 60 seconds,” adding, “R u a minute man???;) / Cothren – “Yes, I take after you. Like father like son,” / Casada – “Lolol! If I’m happy, then all is good!!!!!” 
 August 4 Primary Election held – Durham lost to Sam Whitson
 Aug 16 Lofti fired for political activity
 Beth Harwell said his political consulting was “in conflict with his service in the legislature.”
 During that year (by September), Cothren promoted to press secretary for the Tennessee House Republican Caucus.
 September Federal Election officials investigating Durham
 September 13 Durham expelled
 Sometime in the year 2016 (as all the above was happening)
 Casada re: Cothren ”Those girls aren’t safe!!! Shepard? He’s the wolf!!!” 
 Text exchange between Casada and Cothren in which Cothren responded with a “black people” meme – Casada did not rebuke him and claims he never received the text
 Cothren made sexual advances toward a female lobbyist about how he would like to sleep with older women.

 

2017

 February 7 Rep Lovell engaged in sexual harassment
o In the wake of Durham, the House Ethics Committee and other legislators swing quickly into action – reporting him and investigating
o House GOP Caucus Chair Williams questioned Lovell and told him if the allegations were true he should resign, and he does ultimately resign
o By contrast, Majority Leader Casada “chatted with him on the House floor or at a legislative reception that evening. Casada said he did not ask Lovell to resign or even discuss the allegations. Instead they made small talk.”
 March 2017 Casada tried to amend a bill introduced by David Byrd (increasing per diem payment for Reps) in such a way that it would reverse previous policy to allow reimbursement for legislators’ hotels even if they lived nearby; protestors brought him sleeping bags; some claimed it was because he was going through a divorce and had no place to stay
 Early April 2017 – the Tennessean reported re membership in the Standard Club owned by Josh Smith, re the Standard’s PAC being used to fund activities, food, etc for lawmakers including Casada
o Since 2013, lawmakers were paying their $3k membership dues to the Standard after receiving $3k donations from the Standard’s PAC [possible impermissible gift]
o Casada commented: “I can’t speak on specifics, but I contend that’s just coincidental.”
 May 2017 – Casada objected to an honorary resolution for Kay West (music journalist) b/c she once worked as a receptionist at Penthouse – a magazine which he said “has a tendency to make women, uh, objects”
 June 2017 complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission targets Rep. Kelsey but also alleges that Casada “violated federal campaign finance laws.”
o Casada: “It is not uncommon for allies to support each other in their political endeavors.” He called the claims “absurd.”
 July 2017 Casada’s name floated for Speaker position
 Early October Casada met with the FBI regarding Durham
o Casada said the agents asked him if he knew anything about Durham receiving any favors or money in exchange for sponsoring legislation. “I said I do not know anything about that.” He was specifically questioned about any “quid pro quo.”

 

2018

 Feb 2018 For the first time since he was elected in 2002, Casada faced a challenger in the GOP Primary – African American woman Rae Shawn Sanchez
 Feb 2018 One of Byrd’s accusers secretly recorded a conversation with him.
o Byrd: “I wish I had a do-over, because I promise you I would have corrected that and that would’ve never happened. . . .I’ve lived with that …You don’t know how hard it has been for me.” 
 March 5 “The Tennessee House Republican Caucus recalled a resolution … after its resolution Monday after it unwittingly voted to honor” an African American female activist. “The House, following time-worn tradition, unanimously voted for and co-sponsored the resolution. . . apparently without giving the resolutions a close read. Then Monday, Majority Leader Glen Casada successful motioned to recall the resolution for a revote . . . Repeating claims Casada made [Cade] Cothren [spokesman for the House Republicans] said caucus members objected to language in the resolution supportive of Black Lives Matter . . . “and references to the activist’s opposition to the Confederate monument in Memphis. “Cothren also repeated Casada’s controversial claim that some BLM activists had called for the ‘murder’ of police officers. ‘It had nothing to do with racism whatsoever.’ 
 March 27 story breaks that 3 women accused Byrd of assault in WSMV report
o Byrd didn’t deny, said he couldn’t recall
o Speaker Harwell and other GOP leaders immediately called for his resignation 
o Casada said he would reserve his opinion until he could talk to Byrd personally; he was “disappointed by the representative’s statement”; “I just want to look him in the eye, man to man.”
 April 4 Casada statement
o Intended to “follow up” with Byrd
o Would not join call for resignation (b/c allegations were related to activities outside of the legislature)
o “The David Byrd I know is not the David Byrd being described in these allegations. However, they are serious claims and these women have a right to be heard. David Byrd also has that same right for his side of the story.” “Voters will have opportunity to decide.”
 April 18  Casada’s primary opponent disqualified at the 11th hour by the state GOP party officials
 June 5 – Casada confirms plans to get actively involved in open GOP primary contests throughout the state – clearly a ploy to garner votes for the Speaker job
o Using his CAS-PAC he planned to hire 13 staffers and offer assistance to GOP candidates; making contributions budgeted to total $208k
o Another article stated that he used 12 “team captains” – other legislators – to help him garner votes for the Speaker job
 July  Casada’s CAS-PAC sent out mailers attacking one Republican candidate in a primary race against another Republican in District 73 (Jackson-Madison Co)
o According to the person benefitting from the attack he did not condone nor solicit the mailers
o The attacked candidate believed he was targeted b/c (if elected) he was likely to vote for Casada’s opponent in Speaker race
 Sept 12 Casada announced run for Speaker
 Sept 2018 CAS PAC issued attack ads discrediting Byrd’s accusers, including a video that likened Byrd to President Donald Trump and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying the men had been attacked by “unhinged liberals.”  Michael Lofti worked on the ads; Lofti also as part of his job for CAS-PAC ran Facebook page, the Alliance for Tennessee Families, that was working to get Rep. David Byrd re-elected.
o Lotfi has pushed back, arguing that the Facebook ad’s reference to the accusers’ “lies” was generic language that was also used in other races. “The ad you referenced absolutely makes no mention of the women who accused Byrd, and never intended to.” Women involved in opposing Byrd, however, say that – in the context of his race and given the targeting of his district – the implication was clear.
 November – Casada and Byrd handily re-elected in home districts
 November 20 Casada elected Speaker
o Several freshman lawmakers who he had helped get elected backed his nomination
o Said at press conference he would not help lawmakers get re-elected if they were involved in “some kind of criminal activity.”
o Casada disputed rumors that he planned to clean house among employees at the Legislature

 

2019 

 About Jan 8- Casada’s budget for the legislature grows dramatically, including $6m for “legislative operations” plus more funds for new personnel costs
o The Legislative Administration Office has confirmed:
 that the House Speaker, Lieutenant Governor and the Senate and House Chief Clerks are now able to listen to and watch the rooms where committee meetings are occurring. 
 A white noise system was installed in the ceilings of the hallways inside and outside Casada’s office. 
 Cothren (Casada’s chief of staff) received a $130k raise – making him higher paid than the Governor’s chief of staff and most of the State’s Department Commissioners
 Potentially bundled in these personnel costs are the hiring of Michael Lofti for $48k/year – his Financial disclosures show that in 2018 his consulting firm Red Ivory Strategies was paid $123,300 from CAS-PAC
 Recall: part of his job for CAS-PAC in 2018 was running a Facebook page working to get Rep. David Byrd re-elected and discrediting his accusers; also, in August 2016, then Speaker Harwell fired Lofti from working for the House b/c she felt his political consulting was “in conflict with his service in the legislature.”
 Also possibly part of these increased costs – Rep. Faison (R ) alleges the hiring of 50% morelegislative analysts this year who were “researching what was being said” inside hallways of the legislature.
 at least two research analysts brought on this year have developed reputations among some members as hired busybodies tasked with keeping tabs on House members — particularly Republicans — and reporting information back to Cothren and Casada.
  

 

 January 10 Casada appointed Rep Byrd to chair Education subcommittee despite abuse allegations – “It is an accusation, but we cannot make actions on accusations.”
o “This happened long ago, so it’s not within the House of Representative’s purview” 
 Feb 19 Casada said, in a video, referring to Byrd accusers, that if he had been raped he would have moved. “I don’t think they’re lying. I think they’re believing something that’s not true.” Casada was asked twice in the video if he knows what exactly Byrd was apologizing for, and both times he said he does not know. 
o Casada issued a statement on Feb 20thattempting to clarify that he had meant re: the rape comment – “you should absolutely move to hold those involved fully accountable
o Also, in video Casada said re: the victims — “They came into my office and spoke, . .[I] “listened to the victims.” – which was not true.
o In response to being corrected on this point Cothren said: “Once again the media is letting a liberal political activist drive their agenda instead of sticking to the facts. Speaker Casada has talked to and met with dozens of Tennesseans who have expressed their view on this matter over the last several months.” Cothren said he was “not aware of him (Casada) meeting with these specific women.” Asked if Casada lied about meeting with Byrd’s accusers, Cothren said, “No. He was referring to the many, many people he has talked to about this.” 
 Feb 20 reporter escorted out of Casada’s office by State Troopers after seeking comment on Byrd allegations –  at Casada’s order
 Feb 21 Justin Jones, an African American activist, is lied to by Cothren regarding Jones’ attempts to get a meeting with Casada  https://youtu.be/mnJkGm6_TG8
 Feb 23 Casada’s handling of the Byrd matter comes under sharp criticism
 Feb 24 Casada wrote an opEd in The Tennessean: “Integrity and consistency matter with sexual misconduct allegations” – he falsely claimed that an “anonymous website” had been the source of a false claim by the Tennessean that he said that rape victims should “just move”
o He also accurately said (but not in the way he meant): “I’ve seen first hand how political operatives . . . will readily, happily and irresponsibly betray actual victims of sexual misconduct as a means to an end to achieve their agenda.”
 Feb 25 Jones emails Casada seeking an appointment to talk 
 Late Feb – a cup was thrown onto Casada’s elevator — activist Justin Jones was arrested for assault/released on bond – ordered to have no contact w/ Casada
 Feb 26 3 women accusing Byrd push back on Casada’s claim that he met with them to discuss allegations
 Feb 26 demonstrators removed from Byrd’s hearing room at Casada’s order
o Cothren said they were removed b/c they were “disrupting the legislative process”
o Trooper said they were directed to do so because they were making some “uncomfortable”
o Gov. Lee responds with statement that all voices should be heard
 Feb 28 Microphones of 2 lawmakers shut off when they attempted to question Casada from the floor re Byrd protestors.  
 March 3 Spokesman for House GOP threatened to end press conference b/c reporters were asking Casada questions about sexual misconduct rather than his legislative agenda
o Casada said: Your 1st Amendment rights “end at your nose.”
 March 3 Cothren forwards (altered?) email from Jones to Funk claiming it is evidence of unauthorized contact
o Same day, the DA’s office responds to Cothren questioning the date discrepancy 
 March 4 Glenn Funk filed a motion to revoke Jones’ bond
 March 5 Cothren asked to “hold off” on filing motion – too late / Casada said he “know nothing of that — nothing
 March 20 Gov. Lee meets w/one of the Byrd accusers– she thinks “he believed her”
o The next day Lee says he is “processing” and weighing his options
 House Ethics Committee members ask Casada to remove Byrd from chairmanship
 March 29 Casada asks Byrd to step down from Chairmanship b/c he had become a “distraction” – not due to allegations that had come to light a year previous
o “Following discussions with members of the House and after careful consideration, I have formally asked Representative Byrd to step down from his position as Chairman of the House Education Administration Subcommittee. Representative Byrd agrees that this is the best path forward in ensuring the House of Representatives can focus on the issues that truly matter to all Tennesseans. This decision is based on input from members and to continue the orderly operations of the House. I thank Representative Byrd for agreeing to serve in this position, and I am confident this body will be even stronger moving forward,” 
 May 2 End of session press conference – Casada claims “there’s something not right about that story, claiming it was “fake news”
 May 5 (Sunday) NewsChannel 5 informed Casada and Cothren that they had photos and videos from Cothren’s texts
 May 5 – In a secretly recorded phone call, Casada accused a former associate of being the source of racist text messages sent by Cothren. “What’s happened is there’s accusations that Cade has sent some inflammatory text messages. . . You haven’t released any personal text messages Cade would have sent you, have you? . . . It sounds like you might have…. I hate that you did that.”
 May 6 Early Monday morning – Cothren confronted with past drug use and racist and sexist texts; admitted he sent “some” of the texts
o “Regarding the texts in question, I readily admit that I sent some of them,” Cothren said in a joint statement with Casada.
o Later in the day Cothren said he “couldn’t remember” if he sent them
 May 6 Casada appears on Phil Valentine radio show
o Valentine: “The text messages – You’ve seen those. Are they real?”
o Casada (despite knowing about the texts and their source) says this: “You know, I asked my chief of staff point blank: ‘Did you do this?’ He said, ‘Glen, you know me. You know my character’… Phil, I’ve worked with him for 10 years. I have never heard him make a derogatory, racist, or bigoted statement. … I am convinced in this environment that we live in, because we as conservatives are winning the intellectual battle, I’m convinced some liberal guy living with his mom and dad in their basement created this to frame my chief of staff… I can’t prove it, but it’s the only thing that makes sense. .. .  I’m convinced this is a hatchet job by liberal activists.”
 May 6 newscast, NewsChannel 5 releases second batch of lewd texts, this time implicating Casada
 May 6 about 7 pm Cothren resigned 
 May 7 Tuesday morning Casada appoints Scott Gilmer as new Chief of Staff
o Gilmer had been former Speaker Harwell’s chief of staff and Casada had kept him on in a different capacity, where he earned slightly less than Cothren
o However, Gilmer and Casada’s relationship comes with some baggage – In 2009, when he was Casada’s aide, Gilmer entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge for creating a fake political website and impersonating a Democratic lawmaker; Gilmer had been paid by Casada and another GOP lawmaker to provide consulting work around the same time the fake website was created. A restraining order was filed against Gilmer to have the website taken down. A House Ethics complaint was filed against Casada for his implications with Gilmer but that committee passed on hearing the complaint saying they “weren’t the right body”.
 May 7 Casada appeared on WWTN FM radio
o defended his lewd exchanges saying it was “locker room talk” that does not reflect his current views about women; no longer claiming texts were false
o “I’m embarrassed about that. In the last couple of years, I have come to realize … I can’t do thisand it is not appropriate behavior. So, yes, I participated in locker room talk with two adult men that was not intended to go to anyone else, and I was wrong. In the last several years, that kind of talk has not entered and left my mouth.”
o As for the racist text message sent to him, Casada said: “If I received that, I don’t remember . . .If I had seen it, you would have seen another text coming from me saying ‘this has to stop’ because I know me. I know I would have responded that way if I had seen that text.”
 May 7 – Black Caucus members call on TBI to investigate Speaker Casada’s office, Cothren involvement in Jones e-mail
o Nashville DA Glenn Funk asked the state DA’s conference to appoint a special prosecutor, and the TBI said it will be working with that agency to figure out its next move.
 May 7, late in the day, the Tennessean reported that Casada 
o Placed a white noise machine system inside and outside his legislative office,
o allowed Cothren to eavesdrop on committee rooms, and
o caused enough concern among some lawmakers to have at least three to have or plan to have their offices checked for recording devices.
 Casada responded re: the bugging “These accusations are untrue and inaccurate.” Later he said, “The notion that my office would bug someone else’s office is laughable and patently false.”
 May 8, Wednesday – Calls for resignation begin
o Phil Valentine calls for Casada’s resignation based on his lies
 “I don’t appreciate the fact that he came on my show and lied to everybody out there . . . I can’t believe that he hasn’t resigned already. I think it’s time to go, time to move on.”
o Jeremy Faison (R) from East TN forcefully calls for him to step down from speaker position
o State House, Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn, echoed Faison’s call.
o State Rep Bob Freeman (D), Rep Sam Whitson, etc
 May 8 Dems call for federal probe into eavesdropping
 May 8 House GOP Caucus Conference call
o  
o afternoon Casada apologized and released an “Action Plan”
 May 9 – Thursday – the FBI opens an investigation in the controversial voucher plan vote
o Specifically looking at whether campaign contributions were traded for votes
 May 9  afternoon Rep. Jason Zachary R said on Twitter he has formally requested that his caucus meet – wants to “discuss the direction moving forward in your House of Representatives”; said Rep. Sexton had already written the letter
o Tennessee Firearms Assoc replies to Tweet calling for Casada’s removal
 May 9 evening – Governor Lee weighs in – if Casada worked for him, he would ask him to resign
 May 10 Friday – Craig Northcutt, the DA for Coffee County, appointed special prosecutor to investigate email 
 May 10 Reports surface that Casada had hired Michael Lofti to work for him, with apparently no real duties

 

 

VIDEO: Dems Call for Multiple Investigations Into Casada

First it was the Black Caucus calling for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into the racist texts and possible falsification of evidence coming out of Speaker Casada’s office.

Watch the VIDEO:

Now today, in response to reports of Speaker Casada spying on Democrats in the legislature through a surveillance system, Democrats have called for the U.S. Attorneys office to look into that.

Watch the VIDEO:

VIDEO: State Senate Candidate Powers Plays Dumb About Vouchers

State Senate Candidate Vote Bill Powers – running in Houston, Stewart, and Montgomery counties in a special election to replace Mark Green – gave a vague, wandering, uninformed, non-answer answer when asked about school vouchers this week:

“I haven’t seen a copy of the bill, so I can’t speak to it.”

The bill has been available for 2 months.

He went on:

“Glen Casada… I know Jack Johnson the majority leader has come out in favor of it – this is the governor’s proposal. Is it a voucher program? It’s a hybrid as far as I can tell. But having not seen it, all I can say as it relates to education, is every child deserves an education.”

He’s either ignorant, uncurious, or deceptive. None of the 3 are good qualities to have in a state senator.

Powers then went on to talk about rural broadband as a dodge, then again said he hasn’t seen the bill before dropping that he’s a 2-term city councilman, and eventually coming back to this:

“All I can say is education is important to me, and I’ll be there for the people of Houston, Stewart, and Montgomery.”

This is the kind of answer you give when you know your constituents don’t want it, but the people who are funding your campaign do.

Watch the VIDEO:


Powers was last seen agreeing the LGBT movement is “Demonic” and the “Muslim Agenda” must be pushed back against on his Facebook page, then claiming not to have said it while also not expressing support for those Tennesseans.

Will Houston, Stewart, and Montgomery counties send another anti-LGBT pro-vouchers senator to Nashville?

He faces Democrat Juanita Charles April 23rd, as well as Doyle Clark and David Cutting.

VIDEO: Rep. Jim Cooper Fires Up The Crowd At The CLC Lunch

This week Rep. Jim Cooper visited the Central Labor Council lunch in Nashville and spoke to a rapt audience about the need for unity and togetherness in the coming election, when the labor movement would be a key part of a “winning strategy” in the hopes of preserving key programs like Medicare and social security.

Cooper spoke about rampant inequality the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Gilded Age, acknowledged that the system isn’t fair, but reminded everyone that “the rich people are out there voting”.

Watch the HIGHLIGHTS:

TN STATE SENATE CANDIDATE POWERS “AGREES” LGBT MOVEMENT IS “DEMONIC”

A special election is happening in Tennessee right now in state senate district 22, a race to replace Rep. Mark Green in the state senate. The seat encompasses Stewart, Houston, and Montgomery Counties.

Juanita Charles is on the ballot as a Democrat. She’ll face Bill Powers – who won the Republican primary – in the election on April 23rd.

Powers is a self-identified “constitutional conservative” who supports president Trump, as he recently told a Facebook commenter. The commenter then went on to say that she “will not vote for anyone who is willing to make any concessions to the LGBT movement” because “it is Demonic”, and that she opposes the “Muslim agenda” because Muslims want to “change America”.

Powers says he “agrees with everything” she said.

Here’s THE POST.

It’s worth noting that Clarksville has a significant LGBT community, particularly at Austin Peay State University.

Clarksville also has a Muslim community.

If you feel a state senator should be someone who wants to represent all the people in their district, holler at the Bill Powers campaign and let him know HERE.

And more on his opponent Juanita Charles can be found HERE.

Again, April 23rd is the election.

After Mocking Casada Critic For Beastiality, Rep. Holt Calls Constituent “Mentally ill”

Last week the Jackson Sun reported that Rep. Andy Holt had tweeted a juvenile graphic mocking Republican Madison County Commissioner Jay Bush as being “Someone who would sneak into your house at night, eat all your raw hot dogs, and finger your cat” – echoing an insulting meme that had been posted on the page of Speaker Casada’s PAC (and is still there).

Holt’s post was in response to Bush saying there’s nothing “conservative” about Glen Casada needing another $7 Million to run the Tennessee House and giving his Chief of Staff a $130,000 raise in one year – which is objectively true.

After deleting the post, Holt then mocked anyone who found the whole thing distasteful.

It turns out insulting those who disagree with him was not an isolated incident for Holt.

Holt has once again insulted someone who disagrees with him, this time a constituent who had the nerve to disagree with him on a post on His Facebook page celebrating the passage of the “Heartbeat Bill” – a constitutionally suspect bill which seeks to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected (usually around 6 weeks) and makes no exceptions for rape and incest – meaning a young high school girl raped and impregnated by her coach would be forced to carry the baby to term.

(An Oregon man was just imprisoned for raping and impregnating an 11 year-old girl. Rep. Gloria Johnson had an amendment which would have protected that girl, but she, and her amendment, were ignored)

Holt’s Facebook post celebrated the passage of the bill as “great news”:

Most of the comments underneath the post were in agreement with him, but a few were not.

Caroline Ideus, a constituent of Holt’s, left a comment calling the passage of the bill “terrible”, adding:

“Decisions about a woman and her baby should be between her and her healthcare provider, not the government. The GOP is all about small government, but wants to govern everything about women’s health when most of the GOP lawmakers are men.”

Holt responded:

“Ms. Ideus, thank you for acknowledging that the abortion procedure (for which you are advocating), is actually about a mother and her BABY. You are so entrenched in political ideology that your willing to condone the life of a baby human’s life. Liberalism is truly a mental illness…

Ideus’ Twitter profile says she’s an English teacher at UT-Martin, which is in Weakley County – one of the counties Holt represents.

Holt’s “your” typo and misuse of the word “condone” aside, it seems fair to say that calling a constituent who disagrees with you “mentally ill” and making light of mental illness in general is beneath the dignity of any office.

But maybe Andy thinks the rules don’t apply to him, as he clearly didn’t when he didn’t get that permit for his hog farm. 

If you agree that this is not how state legislators should act, holler at Rep. Andy Holt and let him know HERE.

The full exchange:

 

VIDEO: Kanew Confronts Casada About Promoting Admitted Sex Offender Rep. Byrd

In a 2018 report, 3 women publicly alleged Tennessee State Representative David Byrd (Wayne, Lewis, Hardin, Lawrence counties) had sexually molested them when he was their women’s basketball coach at Wayne County High School.

The report included a recording of Byrd apologizing for it, expressing remorse, and saying he had been praying for forgiveness for it every Sunday.

Most reacted with disgust. Even members of Byrd’s own Republican party, including now-Senator Marsha Blackburn and then-Speaker Beth Harwell. Harwell even asked Byrd to step down.

Byrd refused. He ran for office again in 2018, and won in a landslide with 78% of the vote.

Newly-elected Speaker Glen Casada then promptly promoted him to chair of an Education Subcommittee, of all things.

You truly cannot make this stuff up.

Since Casada’s decision, very little has been made of Byrd’s continued presence in the legislature. A group called “Enough is Enough” has done all they can, showing up at big events like Governor Lee’s swearing in to remind Lee and Casada they’re watching, and supporting one of the victims – Christi Rice – at the Women’s March. But fellow legislators have been silent, and the media has stopped covering the matter.

Nobody has pinned Casada down for his decision – until now.

Recently, former congressional candidate Justin Kanew went to a town hall in Franklin where Speaker Casada was appearing with other members of the Williamson County delegation, and confronted Casada about his decision not only to ignore Byrd’s transgressions, but to run attack ads against the victims and elevate Byrd to chair of an education subcommittee.

Here’s the 6 minute video:

In the video Casada makes it clear he doesn’t believe Byrd did it despite his obvious admission of guilt, and even goes so far as to say if HE had been raped he would’ve come forward long before now.

As if he can possibly know what it would be like to be a young teenage girl in Wayne County who is being sexually molested by her basketball coach.

The entire situation is appalling. If you agree, please SHARE this video on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, and holler at Casada and especially Byrd and tell them you want this admitted sex offender removed from our legislature.

INTERVIEW: TN-32 State Senate Candidate Eric Coleman

TN-32 State Senate candidate Eric Coleman talks to former TN-7 congressional candidate Justin Kanew on Facebook live. Here’s the full interview.

In the Highlights below Coleman weighs in on:

Medicaid Expansion (“Flubbed”)
The Community Oversight Board (“No one should be above the law”)
Medical Marijuana (“Absolutely”)
School Vouchers (“Fail”)

OPINION: ROWE TO REP. ROE – “You’ve let your country down.”

This column is the opinion of Chris Rowe, 2020 candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Follow Chris on Twitter here

Friday, we saw our president appear on national television and declare a state of emergency for an artificial border crisis. At the same time, he admitted that not only was it unnecessary, but that he knew it was an abuse of his power.

He asked the supreme court to support his decision anyway.

Many members of congress, regardless of their party affiliation – including our own Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander – saw this for the blatant “unconstitutional” act it was and decided not to back him.

Rep. Phil Roe on the other hand, in a move that added to a string of questionable decisions recently, has come out in support of the president’s illegal power play.

This is not a decision that should be taken lightly by Tennessee’s voters. We need to hold him accountable for his actions, particularly as a member of the party that purports itself to be in favor of the “Rule of Law.”

Therefore, Congressman Roe, I have an important issue to address: If law is to rule, then the onus falls to you to take the president to task for this action, and publicly rebuke it. We cannot simultaneously advocate for “law and order” while condoning the highest office in the land making a mockery of the same.

You’ve already supported multiple unconscionable actions by our president, including holding hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans hostage for an unnecessary wall. But declaring an unconstitutional “state of emergency” that will divert funds from actual emergencies and cost American lives should be a firm red line for anyone.

Many members of your party have already seen this for what it is, so I ask you now: can you somehow not see for yourself how damaging this is to our union? Or are you simply too afraid to stand up and fight for what’s right just because it may cost you a handful of votes?

Whichever it is, you’ve let your constituency down, you’ve let your country down, and it’s time to step up or move aside and let someone else show you how it’s done.

It’s this type of abdication of your responsibility to protect and uphold the Constitution which has directly led to my challenge for your seat, and I intend to be certain that voters remember your failure to serve them come election time.

Chris Rowe is a Democratic Candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Chris is a 6 year veteran of the Air Force, and a current graduate student at East Tennessee State University. 

Chris has decided to take money only from real people and small businesses, not from large corporations or super PACs, to ensure he remains free of any obligation to “big” anyone.

Holler at Rep. Roe HERE, and donate to Chris HERE.