Tennesseans across the state gather to protest the Trump administration’s inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants at the border, especially children.
Video from Beto O’Rourke’s rally here in Tennessee this week. Beto was impressive, and the energy was great. We appreciate his optimistic message about immigration, and we also appreciate that he came to see us and spent time in the community.
We hope all the other presidential candidates will do the same.
Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin) has thrown his hat in the ring to replace Glen Casada as the next speaker, so let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to remember a few of his greatest hits.
First, there’s the time Reedy used the derogatory term “wetback” multiple times in a committee meeting about a sanctuary cities bill.
Then there’s the time Reedy posted incredulously (and Islamophobically) about “Muslim Day On The Hill”:
And then there’s this – an ad from Reedy’s challenger in 2016, Andy Porch, in which Reedy fails to answer 2 basic civil questions: What is America’s economic system? (capitalism!) and how many Supreme Court Justices are there? (9!)
Watch the VIDEO:
Needless to say, Reedy isn’t ready.
With Speaker Glen Casada finally agreeing to exit the speakership stage left (do us all a favor and keep going off the stage entirely, Glen!)…
…House Republicans are starting to jockey for position to be his replacement.
Rep. Hawk, who is not running, says it has already gotten ugly.
Rep. David Hawk, who is not running for speaker, emails his colleagues that they are acting like “a group of siblings fighting over their dead parents’ estate before the bodies have even been buried.” #tnleg pic.twitter.com/cihvhHsqTR
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) May 22, 2019
The Tennessean has a list of 9 people who may throw their hats in the ring, so we figured we’d give our own Holler-iffic take on who these people are and why you should or should not be rooting for them to become the 3rd most powerful person in Tennessee.
“BORING” BILL DUNN
Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) will preside over the House until a new speaker is chosen, and would like to fill the position permanently.
“I think I can bring a level of boredom to the position,” Dunn told the Tennessean.
He also said he’s “far right but fair” in a TV interview this week.
Dunn played a key part in passing Governor Lee’s public school-harming vouchers bill, but while some seem to be swayed by political favors – which the FBI may be looking into – even Dunn’s opponents seem to agree he’s a true believer on that front.
Of the 9 speaker candidates, Dunn was the only one who didn’t vote in favor of the “Heartbeat Bill”, which would outlaw abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected and force a woman/girl to carry her rapist’s child to term.
Dunn also switched and became a supporter of London Lamar’s bill to give pregnant Hope Scholarship recipients longer leave before going back to school after giving birth.
Also – very importantly – Dunn has already said he believes the women who have been fighting to get Rep. Byrd – who has apologized on tape to 1 of 3 women who say he molested them in high school – removed from office, and says there should be an investigation into the matter.
NEW: Channel 5’s Report on Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn Meeting With and BELIEVING the Women of @stopbyrd @GlenCasada lied about meeting with them and promoted Rep. Byrd, who apologized ON TAPE to 1 of 3 women who say he molested them in high school.pic.twitter.com/3Hu2OYfr4E
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 23, 2019
It’s a shame that it took Casada’s downfall for Dunn to step up and say that, but better late than never. All candidates for speaker should be willing to say and do at least that much.
WILLIAM “COMPUTER GLITCH” LAMBERTH
Casada’s Right Hand Man, Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) has been a Casada loyalist throughout the Casada saga, even jumping into the middle of the situation surrounding the date discrepancy and possible framing of civil rights activist Justin Jones.
Lamberth was quick to adopt Casada’s “computer glitch” excuse, and had no hesitation about defending the now-shamed speaker.
Should be easy to prove then, no?
Lamberth also won’t say using the N Word is a fireable offense.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 3, 2019
Lamberth has been a defender of private prisons (without ever acknowledging that they donate to his campaigns), opposes de-criminalizing medical marijuana, and has been a loyal vote for all of Casada’s priorities throughout the session, including the “Heartbeat Bill”, Lee’s vouchers, the anti-LGBT slate of hate, the voter registration criminalization bill and more.
ROBIN “THE VIDEOTAPER” SMITH
Often found videotaping those who videotape her, the freshman Smith (R-Hixson) is well connected, having previously been chair of the Tennessee Republican Party.
Smith is a staunch Casada loyalist through and through. When the House Caucus voted overwhelmingly that it had “no confidence” in Speaker Casada after his complicity with racism, sexism, drug use at the office, lying, possible fraud, misuse of taxpayer funds, etc… there were still 25 votes in favor of Casada.
1 was Casada himself. We currently know who 4 of the others are, and that group includes Smith.
Smith has been a Casada apologist right up until the end, even trying to lay down a smoke screen to help him blame it on the a-a-a-alcohol. It takes some nerve to offer up ethics bills when you won’t even vote against a guy who has no ethics whatsoever.
She even tried to steer the conversation to Democrats, telling a Chattanooga paper “My hope was we would have censured him and that we would have challenged our other partisans in the [Democratic] caucus to censure members that also engage in unbecoming behavior.”
Smith has been loyal on all the key votes, engaged in anti-Muslim saber-rattling, and Obama-bashing.
A warning about Smith From Vanity Fair, back when Smith ran for Congress (and lost):
Smith was the head of the Tennessee Republican Party during the ’08 presidential campaign and approved the distribution of some of the most underhanded and insidious anti-Obama propaganda to appear during the election. You may recall, for example, the video that the Tennessee G.O.P. released hammering Michelle Obama for her comment about being “proud of her country for the “first time” in “her adult lifetime.” (The ad prompted Barack to tell critics to “lay off” his wife.) You may also remember the Tennessee G.O.P. press release titled “Anti-Semites for Obama” that pointedly referred to the candidate as “Barack Hussein Obama.” Both smears drew national condemnation, even from Republican Party leaders. But one gets the feeling that if the Party gave into its true impulses and elected Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh its leader tomorrow, there’s a good chance Robin Smith would be at the top of their list for chief strategist… How did Smith respond when, following her announcement, a reporter brought up the heat she took for the smear tactics? She called the question “unprofessional” and railed against the “liberal media.” Were she to be elected, Smith would likely be among the most conservative members in Congress. Her Facebook and Twitter pages overflow with right-wing rhetoric. In one Facebook status update, for instance, she tells “Judeo-Christians” to “wake up” and oppose President Obama’s attempts to reach out to the Muslim world.
MATTHEW “ETHICS COMMITTEE” HILL
Speaking of Ethics, Matthew Hill is the chair of the ethics committee, which means he played a big part in trying to orchestrate the rigging of an *advisory opinion* that would have attempted to help clear Speaker Casada.
That effort was stopped in its tracks, and prompted Rep. Mike Carter, a judge, to call it the “most egregious act I have been made aware of” and call for Casada’s resignation from the House entirely.
Needless to say, it takes a special kind of person to help rig an ethics committee opinion from the chair position.
Hill is another House Republican who has defended Casada up until the end. Hill claims he voted against Casada when it came time for the “no-confidence” vote, but since the vote was silent and we’ll never know, color us skeptical.
Rep. Jeremy Faison put it best when he said there were 45 votes against Casada, but suddenly after the fact there were 68.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 22, 2019
While we’re on the subject of ethics, Hill was also recently seen on the House floor claiming the Tennessee State Employees Association supported Lee’s school vouchers, when they did not.
Rep. Matthew Hill is speaking out against things other reps have said.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 1, 2019
He has yet to apologize for offering that false information.
If that’s not enough, Hill has the support of Rep. Micah “Heartbeat Bill” Van Huss, which should send a chill down everyone’s spine and be enough to make you very afraid of Hill all by itself.
— Kimberlee Kruesi (@kkruesi) May 22, 2019
Funny how moral these reps who defended Casada to the end all suddenly became once they realized they were on the wrong side of history.
“JUDGE” MIKE CARTER
Rep. Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) is a judge who held off on speaking out against Casada until he had all the facts…
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 13, 2019
…then pulled no punches once he realized Casada was trying to rig the ethics committee to try to get away with everything. Carter then went hard at Casada, saying his concern was “it shows a heart for misrepresentation” and calling it the “most egregious act” yet.
Once Carter turned, he opened the door for others to speak out and likely played a big part in why the “no-confidence” vote went the way it did.
Carter was a loyal vote on vouchers, the heartbeat bill, the slate of hate, gun permit-weakening, the voter registration criminalization bill, etc.
From the Tennessean, regarding his bid for Speaker:
Carter vowed to keep all committee chairs in their position, form a political action committee, review all policies, procedures and rules and never intimidate members.
JERRY “WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES” SEXTON
Pretty much all you need to know about Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) – a former Baptist preacher – is summed up in this clip right here, where he defends Rep. David Byrd’s presence as chair of an education subcommittee by saying “we all make mistakes”:
NEW VIDEO: “We all make mistakes.”
– Rep. Jerry Sexton on Rep. David Byrd, who apologized on tape for sexually molesting high school girls he coached.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) February 27, 2019
It’s worth noting though that Sexton didn’t extend such leeway to Casada, leading the effort to call on the GOP caucus to meet and vote on their support of him, and introducing the resolution stating the caucus no longer had confidence in him.
Erik Schelzig reported that Sexton argued for the state muzzleloader to be the Knight Muzzleloader because:
“I’m from Bean Station, and Bean Station was settled by the first white settlers in Tennessee, and had the first white baby born in the state of Tennessee. They were also makers of firearms and muzzleloaders. And this company is owned by descendants of the Bean family.”
SCHELZIG: First of all, having the first white baby born in the state, unless we’re a pile of open racists, isn’t an accomplishment. Second, unless we’re kicking French people out of whiteness, it’s not true. Martin Chartier lived here in Nashville up on the burial mound that used to exist just south of Jefferson Street in what would later be called “the old Shawnee trading post” in 1690. His son, Peter, was born here that year.”
Nothing good going on there. Sexton also made a stand against the 2017 Improve Act which provided funds for road improvements – obviously a socialist plot!
Sexton has been a loyal vote on vouchers, the heartbeat bill, the slate of hate, gun permit-weakening, the voter registration criminalization bill, etc.
RYAN “LET’S ARM TEACHERS” WILLIAMS
Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) carried the bill that would’ve armed Tennessee’s teachers, before eventually withdrawing it.
You can watch some of the discussion here:
From the Tennessean:
The former House Republican Caucus chairman said Wednesday he and his wife were praying about his options and a potential bid for speaker.
“Now more than ever we as a caucus need to unify around someone,” said Williams, R-Cookeville.
Williams has been a loyal vote on vouchers, the heartbeat bill, the slate of hate, gun permit-weakening, the voter registration criminalization bill, etc.
CAMERON “EVERYTHING IS SOCIALISM” SEXTON
In fairness that nickname above could apply to pretty much every TN GOP house member. We gave it to Sexton because of this diatribe about medicaid expansion being socialism posted on the TN GOP twitter account recently.
Here’s new Speaker candidate Cameron “everything is socialism” Sexton (@CSexton25) telling us medicaid expansion and those $1.4 Billion we lose every year wouldn’t actually help rural hospitals. https://t.co/47HCpRrDOD
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 22, 2019
Sexton once unbelievably said “no one has died because they didn’t have access to health care” on the house floor — a claim disputed by medical experts.
Sexton doesn’t seem to realize Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid 4 times, and like the rest of his caucus refuses to acknowledge that accepting the billions we’re rejecting each year would obviously help health care access and struggling rural hospitals in Tennessee.
From the Tennessean:
As the House Republican Caucus chairman, Sexton, R-Crossville, has avoided wading too deep into the Casada controversy, instead seeing his role as a referee for the GOP lawmakers to discuss the matter… Sexton confirmed Tuesday that several members of the caucus have encouraged him to considering running for speaker… “I’m mulling it,” he said. “But out of respect for the office, there’s been no (resignation) date given, it’s a little early to start trying to run for office or leadership position that’s no available yet.”
While Sexton has been a loyal vote on most things, it’s worth noting that he’s the only one in this group to vote against Bill Lee’s public school-harming vouchers.
CURTIS “NOT GLORIA” JOHNSON
We gave Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) that nickname because we don’t know much about him, and haven’t really heard from him this session. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe what this legislature needs right now is someone who is low profile and stays out of the limelight.
Johnson was up against Casada in the caucus speaker’s race this past fall.
From the Tennessean:
At the November caucus vote where Casada was nominated, Johnson told his colleagues he would not be a speaker who would bring division and scandal.
“If you’re looking for a speaker who’s going to use this position as a stepping stone to the next position, I’m not the one,” Johnson said at the time.
Maybe they should’ve listened to him.
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?
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.
Timeline of Some of Tennessee Speaker of The House of Representatives Glen Casada’s Actions and Statements
Compiled by Tina Cahalan Jones
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.