Disgraced Former Speaker’s N Word-Using Chief: “Send KKK Bust To Museum”

On August 2nd, speaker Glen Casada became former Speaker Glen Casada. Cameron Sexton will be stepping in to fill his very small shoes during a special session August 23rd.

The disgraced now-former Tennessee speaker’s downfall can be traced back to his refusal to meet with activists who insisted the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest – the KKK’s first Grand Wizard – be removed from the capitol. This week, Casada’s also disgraced former chief of staff Cade Cothren, who was outed for using the N Word and calling black people “idiots”, among other things, joined them in their call to move the bust, saying in a Twitter conversation it should be “sent to a museum”.

The list of Casada’s transgressions is long – we did our best to list them in video form HERE – but the beginning of his downfall can be traced back to one very specific issue: The bust of the KKK’s first Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest, which sits prominently in Tennessee’s state Capitol, and Casada’s refusal to meet with the activists who have long been calling for its removal.

Casada’s predecessor Speaker Beth Harwell Met with the activists, many of which are students. Casada would not. Instead, he gave them the runaround, dodging them in the halls of the Capitol and having his chief of staff Cothren lie directly to their faces about misspelled emails.

Eventually the frustration of activists Justin Jones and Jeneisha Harris boiled over and resulted in Jones throwing a paper cup of iced (not hot) tea (not coffee) at Casada as he fled into a private elevator.

The assault & disorderly conduct charges filed against Justin Jones and Jeneisha Harris respectively in the aftermath are still pending. (The next hearing is August 15th at 9AM in courtroom 4D)

Another issue still outstanding is that of Casada’s former Chief of staff Cade Cothren, who resigned amid numerous scandals of his own, and whether or not he falsified the date on an email date to make it look like Jones contacted Casada in violation of a court order, which would have landed Jones in jail.

Casada and Cothren claim the date discrepancy can be chalked up to an issue with the legislature’s SPAM filters delaying the email, and special prosecutor on the case Craig Northcott – the D.A. in Coffee County, who himself is under fire for open Islamophobia, homophobia, and a refusal to respect the authority of the Supreme Court – appears to be taking their word for it. Despite calls by Jones, and even Cothren himself, for Northcott to bring in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for an independent investigation about the possibly fraudulent emails, Northcott has refused.

The possible framing of a civil rights activist aside, Cothren resigned due to numerous other scandals – many of which Casada was complicit in – including lewd, sexist texts and behavior, an admission that he was doing cocaine at his desk during work hours, and racism. Lots of racism. 

Cothren used the “N Word” to describe quarterback Jameis Winston. He said “black people are idiots.” The list goes on.

A lot has happened since the beginning of Casada and Cothren’s downfall, and so many Phil Williams stories later it’s hard to remember how it all started… but it can all be traced back to one thing: That bust of the KKK’s first Grand Wizard in the legislature.

Casada has not expressed a willingness to move the bust, instead saying that adding “historical context” would be more appropriate (without specifying what that means).

Govenor Lee says a “conversation needs to be had” about the bust, again without providing specifics, and just recently agreed to take action to stop celebrating July 13th as “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day” after nationwide backlash – including from Republican Senator Ted Cruz – in the wake of his signing a proclamation to reaffirm it.

While Casada and Lee remain noncommittal, Casada’s “N Word”-using Former Chief of staff Cade Cothren has now changed his tune, conceding in a conversation on Twitter with Nashville native @AliceRolli1 that the bust should indeed be moved:

The comment comes as part of what appears to be an effort by Cothren to repair his image, an effort that has mainly consisted of joining Twitter and sending Taylor Swift memes to his critics while using Taylor Swift lyrics to challenge them to a fight in his Twitter bio.

“Sure, send it to the museum” is clearly a flippant, dismissive way to come around to a position on a serious topic concerning a statue much of Tennessee’s African-American population considers to be a painful reminder of a dark past. That being said, it’s also a clear departure from the official position his disgraced boss Casada’s office held when the then-speaker was dodging Jones & Harris in the halls, turning a deaf ear to protestors who were imploring Tennessee leadership to listen to Tennessee’s black citizens and move the symbol of hate.

Cothren is clearly trying to make himself employable in the state of Tennessee again so his motives can’t be viewed as entirely altruistic, but if a Republican speaker’s chief of staff who once said “black People are idiots” and called Jameis Winston the N Word is now willing to publicly call for the bust to be sent to a museum… well, these days in Tennessee, that certainly counts as progress.

Holler at Governor Lee and soon-to-be Speaker Sexton if you agree it’s time to “send the bust to the museum”.

Trae Crowder Takes Down D.A. Northcott

“Sorry LGBT people, your marriages are invalid – so sayeth CRAIG.”

Watch the great Trae Crowder take down “broke-brained” Islamophobic, homophobic D.A. Northcott’s refusal to recognize the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in his 1st episode of #DoWhatNow?

Election Eve Shenanigans

Metro Nashville has certainly had elections with more drama and mud-slinging than the one scheduled for tomorrow, but as is always the case, disputes between candidates and their camps always rise to fever pitch the week of the election. The Holler is doing our part to call attention to some of the more egregious acts with our Election Eve Shenanigans Spotlight.

Mayor’s Race

Depending on who you favor, it’s either worse than John Cooper – widely considered to be the biggest challenger to incumbent David Briley – has self-funded his campaign with about $1.5 of his own money, some of which has been earned from private development, or that Briley has taken hundreds of thousands in contributions from members of Nashville’s development community.

While controversial, neither rises to scandal. However, activist Eric Patton charges Cooper has violated campaign finance law by accepting contributions for a run-off he isn’t assured of making yet.

Cooper’s pre-general election financial disclosure, filed with the Davidson County Election Commission, shows he’s taken the maximum donation amount – $1,600 – from his treasurer, Mary Falls, and from his oldest brother, William Cooper. But he’s also taken the maximum amount from both Falls and William Cooper and earmarked it for the runoff election, which is slated for Sept. 12.

Patton filed an ethics complaint with the office of District Attorney Glen Funk Tuesday and said today he’s waiting on a response from the DA.

Screen shot of Eric Patton’s twitter post showing hand-written ethics complaint filed against the John Cooper for Mayor campaign.

 

Screen shot of Eric Patton’s twitter alleging ethical violations by Cooper.

 

 

 

 

Davidson County Administrator of Elections Joan Nixon confirmed in a phone call with the Holler that candidates are prohibited from accepting contributions for the runoff until after the August 1 general election.

In 2015, four mayoral candidates —  Megan Barry, Charles Robert Bone, Bill Freeman and Jeremy Kane — similarly took too much too soon and were ordered by Nixon to refund it.

And in Metro Council Races . . .

Thus far, no punches have been thrown, as there were in 2015 when candidates Nick Leonardo (now a judge) and the late Loniel Green became physical at on Election Day 2015 at Cathedral of Praise, D1’s largest precinct. But the usual negative mail pieces and Facebook posts abound. Here are a couple:

District 13

District 13 features a three-way race between front-runner Russ Bradford, Andrew Dixon and Dan Meredith.

Davette Blalock, a two-term Metro Council member and 2016 Trump backer, supports Dixon, as does former council member Roy Dale. Dale is an engineer and developer who attracts controversy: In 2018, he served as a consulting engineer in the proposed move of a grease and waste water treatment to in North Nashville. Earlier in his career, while running for Council at Large in 2003 (against David Briley and current At Large candidate Adam Dread) Dale took an anti-gay approach and sent mailers disparaging Briley for supporting anti-discrimination measures to protect gay and lesbian Metro employees.

“David Briley and Adam Dread voted to give ‘special rights’ to the gay and lesbian community. If you want Nashville to be more like California, say ‘hello San Fran Nashville’ and vote for David Briley and Adam Dread,” read Dale’s mail piece.

Dale’s anti-gay rhetoric is notable: Bradford is openly gay. And Dale and Blalock have formed a PAC that has apparently spent money on nothing but mail pieces to support Dixon

Mailer sent by Good Government PAC.

In fact, ‘Good Government PAC’ wasn’t registered with Metro Nashville as of Tuesday, July 30 but is federally registered to

Dale’s office address. One would think two people with a combined four terms on council would know the dangers of supporting a local candidate with an illegal PAC, but apparently not.

Unlike Dale and Blalock, Meredith doesn’t make voters guess at his motives. Scoop Nashville wrote in April about Meredith’s tweets saying that calling black women apes is funny; that the business world would be better without women; and referring to gay men as ‘prissy homosexuals.’

So no surprise Meredith attacked Bradford on Facebook today, using an unflattering picture of Bradford presumably in costume with the phrase: ‘Why send a boy to do a man’s job?’

Meredith was promptly roasted on his own page for his derogatory portrayal of Bradford.

District 35

Incumbent Dave Rosenberg faces Michelle Foreman, a member of the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee. Foreman makes a number of charges against Roseberg, including belittling him for moving to Nashville, as many others have, from other cities, voting to make Nashville a sanctuary city and critically tweeting about Trump. We at the Holler can’t vote for Rosenberg but on the basis of Foreman’s charges, he sounds good to us.

Michelle Foreman nastygram.

 

 

Pulitzer Prize Winner Maraniss Talks Trump and What Makes an American with the Holler

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling writer

The New York Times best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss says the Trump era holds many similarities with Senator Joe McCarthy’s 1950s Red-baiting period.

Maraniss, recently in Nashville on tour for his latest book, A Good American Family, discussed the comparison over coffee with The Tennessee Holler.

“There are obvious parallels (between Trump and McCarthy,)” said Maraniss, noting he started the book prior to Donald Trump’s 2016 election as president. “There’s the same use of fear as a political weapon and the demonization of outsiders as a tool.”

A Good American Family is a biography of sorts, with the focal point being the work of House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in Detroit in 1952. One of the men called to testify on charges of being a Communist: Elliott Maraniss, David’s father.

Maraniss, only two years old at the time of the hearings, had no memory of the hearings but knew the experience shadowed the family’s history. The day Elliott Maraniss was issued a subpoena, he was fired from his job at the now-defunct Detroit Times. Thus began a  five-year odyssey for the family, as Elliott moved about the Midwest, losing one job after another as part of a blacklist, before settling at the Capital Times in Madison, Wisc.

For Maraniss, the conundrum at the heart of the book is what it means to be American. How was his father, despite commanding an all-black company for the U.S. Army in World War II, considered ‘Un-American’? Or his uncle, Robert Adair Cummins, who fought against fascists in the Spanish Revolution, and also a HUAC target?

Both were active in the Michigan Communist Party of the 1930s and ’40s, but America was founded on the basis of free speech, a point Elliot made in the three-page statement he prepared for his HUAC testimony, a statement he wasn’t allowed to give and that Maraniss only found in the National Archives in 2015.

While McCarthy exploited Cold War-era fears about the USSR and the rise of Communism, Trump uses an older tactic to manipulate fear for his own gain.

“Race is at the center of American politics and always has been,” he says. “It’s always been easily manipulated and Trump very easily exploits that.”

“The concept of America and who is American . . . Who decides that? Native Americans weren’t American enough, blacks weren’t American enough,” said Maraniss.

(Meanwhile, Congressman George Stephens Wood, the chairman of HUAC — someone who, presumably, WAS American enough — was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his home state of Georgia and had been present at the lynching of Jewish businessman Leo Frank in 1915.)

As president, Trump is far worse than McCarthy, says Maraniss.

“There’s a huge difference between then and now: Trump has a lot more platforms and as president, a greater ability to disrupt the government.”

A Good American Family is Maraniss’ 12th book. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his coverage of President Bill Clinton and again in 2007 as part of the Washington Post team that covered the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. He has also been a Pulitzer Prize finalist another three times, a writer and editor with the Post for more than 40 years, and a visiting distinguished professor at Vanderbilt University.

Support local bookstores by purchasing A Good American Family at Parnassus Books in Green Hills or Landmark Booksellers in Franklin.

KINGSPORT’S BALLAD HEALTH PROTEST ENTERS 40TH DAY

Residents in the Sullivan County/Kingsport, TN area have just entered their 40th day of protesting a recent hospital merger that will put the health care of many at risk. The merger is a demonstration of the intersection between political and corporate corruption.

Dani Cook, a local advocate from Bristol, Tennessee, explains the situation in detail below… And watch our brief VIDEO from Day 39:

BALLAD HEALTH: 

Where Apparent Healthcare, Political, & Corporate Corruption Meet

In one of the most unusual healthcare-related actions ever taken by 2 states, State Senators, Representatives, Departments of Health, Attorneys General, and Community Business and Education Leaders joined together with two separate healthcare systems to create a medical monopoly, intentionally displacing competition and granting state and federal antitrust immunity.

The State of Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Virginia have executed a “COPA” – a Certificate of Public Advantage/Cooperative Agreement – unlike any in the history of healthcare in America.

The COPA annual review has just finished, and the TN Health Dept. couldn’t “grade” Ballad Health as laid out in the Terms of Certification. Because the Terms of Certification included a Plan of Separation requiring Wellmont Health System, Mountain States Health Alliance, and Ballad Health (the new health system) to keep 90% of their assets separate for the first 18 months after the COPA was issued, there is a unique window of opportunity to have the COPA modified or terminated!

The COPA law states:

“This COPA is subject to modification if at any time the Department (of Health) determines the likely benefits resulting from the Cooperative Agreement no longer outweigh any disadvantages attributable to any potential reduction in competition that may result from the Cooperative Agreement.

This COPA is subject to termination if the Department determines the benefits resulting from the Cooperative Agreement no longer outweigh any disadvantages attributable to a reduction in competition that may result from the Cooperative Agreement, and modification of the COPA is not obtained.”

Read the COPA Agreement HERE.

Since the COPA has been executed, there have been reductions in pay, changes in services, repurposing and deletions of services, and a severe reduction in access to quality healthcare.

The changes have caused severe staffing shortages, true emergencies being treated in triage/waiting rooms, significantly increased wait times, patients being held in the ER for days to weeks, increased transports (often not covered by insurance), over-billing, and lawsuits from the health system against patients for bills, among other negative effects.

The region is rural, and has a poverty rate of 20-30%.

The people here are suffering. Doctors and nurses are leaving. And those that cannot leave are scared to speak out for fear of retaliation from Ballad Health.

Those fears are well founded, as several employees have already been admonished, warned, and even fired for doing so.

If we are going to save our healthcare system, the time to act is now, before the assets are combined on July 31st, 2019, which is why 10 residents have signed onto a federal lawsuit requesting Declaratory and Injunctive Relief.

HOW WE GOT HERE

The original COPA legislation – The Hospital Cooperation Act of 1993 – allowed health systems that were in financial trouble to work together in order to reduce costs, remain profitable, and still provide quality healthcare.

It did not, however, allow those health care systems to merge.

In 2014, Wellmont Health System announced it was looking for a strategic partner to help keep their hospitals operating, and reduce their $411 Million debt. The concern with this prospect was that Mountain States, with their own $892 Million debt, would be forced to do the same.

Shortly thereafter, prominent local businessman and BancTenn Chair, Bill Greene, was in the hospital for cellulitis in his leg. According to several interviews Greene gave in the press, it was  this hospital stay that set off a chain of events that would change healthcare in our region.

It started with Greene’s cardiologist stopping by to check on him during the stay. Green asked the cardiologist to take a look at his chart, but he explained he could not do so because he was a Wellmont physician, and Greene was in a Mountain States Health Alliance hospital.

On a subsequent golfing trip Greene expressed his dissatisfaction that the two systems could not access each other’s information, especially given their proximity to each other (although this is common with all competing hospitals).

Greene asked Alan Levine, the new CEO of Mountain States, what the options were to rectify the situation. Levine explained that the two health care systems would not be allowed to merge by the FTC because they would be creating a medical monopoly, and that the FTC has a 70% success rate in blocking such acquisitions/mergers.

Levine then shared the idea of a COPA – a so-far unused state mechanism that put price and competitive controls in place, and shielded health system mergers from FTC scrutiny. 

Per Greene, he and a group of self-proclaimed “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” members gathered together at his home to determine if it was “worth it” to pursue the idea. This group of 15 local business, education, and community leaders who manage approximately 65% of the region’s employees spent 4-5 hours discussing the option, and determined that it was worth it.

Over the course of the next few months the “Hole in the Wall Gang” began to hold public forums, created a website, and leveraged the local media to convince the public of two things:

1. Their hospitals were failing financially and were in such terrible shape that they were about to be sold to an outside healthcare system who would have no knowledge of or interest in the local region, and would dismantle, reduce, and close hospitals.
2. That the merger of Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance was their only chance of survival.

In addition to spreading their message to the public, the Hole in the Wall Gang needed to change the existing COPA Law, since it did not allow for the hospitals to merge. To accomplish that mission and get around the FTC’s 70% success rate blocking such mergers for antitrust reasons, The Gang would need to get new legislation introduced and passed.

Fortunately for them, one Gang member – Mountain States Health Alliance – had the Chair of the Tennessee Senate Health Committee on the payroll: Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Washington & Carter Counties).

Crowe had been a contracted employee for Mountain States for several years, and was the perfect vehicle through which these new pieces of legislation could be passed. On April 8, 2015 Senator Crowe introduced SB0994 to the Health and Welfare Committee.

Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knox County) abstained from voting due to a conflict as he also works for a healthcare system in nearby Knoxville TN.

Senator Doug Overbey (current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of TN) abstained, stating:

“What is being proposed is an attempt to provide some insulation from anti-trust scrutiny under traditional anti-trust principles under both federal and state law and in fact, I think that’s what it says what it’s trying to do in Section 2.8.”

Senator Rusty Crowe – again, a paid hospital employee/vendor of Ballad Health – declared Rule 13, which states that he has a personal interest in this law being passed but that he promises his vote is in the best interest of the people.

As laws were being drafted, sponsored and passed by the politicians, the healthcare system administrators and Hole in the Wall Gang members were busy getting letters of support together from local businesses and organizations.

On June 2015, Commissioner of Health John Dreyzehner sent a letter to FTC Staff asking for an opinion. His question: If the New Health System that results from the merger under the COPA was subsequently sold to a non-COPA healthcare system outside of the region, would that trigger an antitrust review?

Better question: Why was he asking that?

At the time, Wellmont and MSHA had not filed a letter of intent to apply for the COPA or submitted the application. So why was the TN Commissioner of Health asking a question that appeared to only be of informational benefit to two private healthcare systems?

After 6 months, and subsequent phone conversations with the TN Dept. of Health, the FTC finally responded to this request for opinion, saying that typically once a merger is allowed to happen, and the assets have been combined, it is extremely difficult to undo.

They said it’s like trying to unscramble an egg.

A few weeks later, Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System submitted their application for a COPA.

Over the next two years, there were public hearings held in the local community, but with the local news media only being fed information from the two health systems and the Hole in the Wall Gang, the public was unaware of just what’s at stake, and hardly participated. 

The local and state politicians, businessmen, and education leaders did attend those hearings, and advocated for the merger to be approved and COPA granted.

(*Important to note the participants in these public hearings because of their positions, the companies they own, and roles in the community – See “Cast of Characters” below… Also important to note the expert testimonies of FTC Staff and Bob Leibenluft, a DC antitrust attorney, formerly of the FTC Healthcare Antitrust Division)

(**It’s also interesting to note the investment Bill Greene seemed to have in this outcome. He’s a banker. Why the interest in healthcare?)

During the course of the public hearings, several independent investigations and subsequent reports were conducted, 2 of which are of particular importance, as they were financed by the FTC and by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

(Spoiler Alert: They both said “DO NOT DO THIS” – a merger is not necessary to accomplish the efficiencies and commitments promised, and no detailed plan has been provided to prove through clear and convincing evidence that this will be an advantage to the public.)

Independent Report by Robert Town (Commonwealth of VA Hired Expert): Here

Independent Report by Kenneth Kizer (FTC Hired Expert): Here

While there is a lot of information and additional players to be mentioned in this section, including people who worked with Alan Levine at his past companies coming to work with him, one of which was fined $260 Million for fraud, a CEO coming out of retirement, and more questionable political connections, let’s keep moving…

Fast-forward to January 31st, 2018, when the COPA is issued.

Even though the State of TN and Commonwealth of Virginia knew this day was coming, and the laws passed required oversight for the granting of the COPA, no COPA Oversight had been set up at that time.

In fact, it was approximately 4 months before the external COPA Oversight Monitor, Larry Fitzgerald was hired.

During that 4 month unsupervised period, the new health system – Ballad Health – made a move to refinance their debt through hospital municipal bonds. Keep in mind, between the two health systems they had approximately $1.3 Billion in debt.

As a combined system, their overall value was $3 Billion.  The current rating on their bonds was a BBB+, so they shopped around to get the bonds refinanced, with the goal of getting a better bond rating to reduce their debt.

They located the Greeneville TN Health and Education Facilities Board, a board whose members had just been in trouble for not bothering to meet for 2 years, and had a better rating than Ballad’s bonds.

Keep in mind, Ballad Health is a nonprofit organization, and therefore a bond that refinances their debt is not allowed… unless you know a couple of politicians – in this case former TN Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, who called U.S. Representative Diane Black, who chaired the House Budget Committee and could rewrite the wording that allows the refinancing to take place. 

Still crunching the numbers… but over $100 Million of them were traded between May 10th– May 15th, and the bonds weren’t delivered until 6/6, so the question is: Who had the bonds before the rating was improved, and who bought and sold the bonds?

The CFO of Ballad Health, Lynn Krutak – who helped CEO Alan Levine get the bond to refinance the debt – is also on the Healthcare Advisory Board for PNC Bank.

PNC Capital Investments is one of the three underwriters for the bonds, along with B of A, Merrill Lynch, and US BancCorp.

Bond Series A: Click Here

Bond Series B: Click Here

Ballad Health states in the SEC paperwork that they do not have the money to repay this debt or meet the COPA commitments, and that these funds (during their Forward-Looking Statements) would be derived from merger synergies and consolidations/deletions of services.

In this paperwork they outline certain changes that were not announced to the public or TN Health Department until 6 months after they had already begun implementation.

These changes, specifically the downgrading of the Level III NICU at Holston Valley Medical Center (FULL DISCLOSURE: where my granddaughter was born in 2017 weighing 1 pound 3 ounces), are what prompted my interest, subsequent research, and activism against Ballad Health, the TN Health Department, and VA & TN politicians.

(Yes, there is a lot that happens in Virginia as well… it’s just too much to go into here.)

You may be wondering why people weren’t upset and outraged by all of these things prior to November 2018… Well, it’s pretty simple: Within days of the COPA being issued, Senator Rusty Crowe introduced SB2048 (the revised version of HB2020 first introduced by Rep. Gary Hicks) which is a law protecting the information from the public:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 68, Chapter 11, Part 13, is amended by adding the following as a new section: 68-11-1310.

(a) The following records received by the department or the attorney general and reporter from the recipients or applicants of a certificate of public advantage for a cooperative agreement issued pursuant to this part shall not be subject to disclosure pursuant to title 10, chapter 7, part 5:

(1) Operating and capital budgets;

(2) Existing and future business plans other than any plans, and any modifications to those plans, that are required to be submitted to the state pursuant to a certificate of public advantage or application for a certificate of public advantage;

(3) Financial audit working papers as defined in § 4-3-304(7);

(4) Contracts or agreements with payors and payorpricing information;

(5) Physician recruitment plans and contracts or agreements with physicians;

(6) Contracts or agreements with vendors;

(7) Complaints, including hotline complaints and open investigations of such complaints; and Senate Health and Welfare Committee 1 Amendment No. 1 to SB2048 Crowe Signature of Sponsor AMEND Senate Bill No. 2048 House Bill No. 2020* SA0731 014499 -2-

(8) Employee personnel files, including performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, individual compensation amounts, and employment contract terms not otherwise publicly available.

In addition to these items being protected by this piece of legislation, it also stipulates that if you request this information, are denied, and then sue to obtain it, you – the citizen – are required to pay the attorney’s fees for the healthcare system/TN Dept. of Health.

So to recap: They created a medical monopoly, gave it anti-trust immunity on a state and federal level, protected non-proprietary information including complaints and changes to services,  and on top of all of that they have placed the financial burden of seeking this information directly on the citizens for whom this COPA is supposed to be an advantage.

REVIEW

There are 1.2 Million people in rural Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Northwest North Carolina, and Southeast Kentucky who are at the mercy of a medical monopoly that exists ONLY because a healthcare corporation, run by a CEO with an employment history that includes two companies that received judgments of $1.7 Billion and $260 Million in healthcare fraud, a group of local and state politicians, and a “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” of city business, education, and community leaders banded together to change state law that allowed them to merge and granted them IMMUNITY from federal and state antitrust laws.

This unprecedented use of state law borders on unconstitutional given the protections of the Sherman Antitrust Act. And if not quite unconstitutional, certainly unconscionable, unethical, and immoral considering the impact on an already impoverished, under-served community.

We do not have a healthcare crisis in this country, we have a corruption crisis in this country, and corporations, politicians, and governmental policies and practices create, perpetuate, and celebrate its existence.

That is why we need you. No one is watching them. No one is hearing us.

And despite Ballad Health’s motto “It’s Your Story, We’re Listening.”

Our cries are falling on deaf ears.

Please help.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Alan Levine, CEO Ballad Health, HMA (Health Management Associates) 2010-2013 – President & CEO of the Florida Group of Hospitals  – DOJ $260M Fraud Judgment for 2008-2012 false claims.

2017 Broward Health Whistleblower Case Referencing Alan Levine Kickbacks 2006

Columbia/HCA Fraud Judgment (Where Alan Levine first works with/becomes friends with Rick Scott) 

Alan Levine is a member of the Federalist Society (his page as a “Contributor”) and is extremely active in political campaign contributions

Bill Greene – Chairman, banquet 

Articles for Reference:

http://bjournal.com/effort-to-influence-wellmonts-merger-strategy-spreading/

https://www.heraldcourier.com/news/majority-voice-support-for-merger-ftc-opposition-continues/article_e2b48c1e-8136-5bce-91b5-d931f6a78840.html

https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Health-Care/2017/09/23/How-a-case-of-cellulitis-and-a-meeting-of-the-hole-in-the-wall-gang-led-to

https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Health-Care/2018/01/31/Ballad-Health-merger-timeline

https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Business/2017/08/24/New-ETSU-stadium-named-for-William-B-Greene-Jr

https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-tnva/william-b.-greene-jr.

Scott Niswonger – President Niswonger Foundation (Money Influence)

Brian Noland – President, East TN State University & Member of Ballad Board of Directors

David Golden – SVP Safety & Sustainability, Eastman Chemical Company

Tony Keck – Worked with Alan Levine in Louisiana & SVP at Ballad Health

Andy Hall – Ballad Health Gov’t Relations

Eric Deaton – Ballad Health Marketing

Bart Hove – Wellmont CEO – came out of retirement to help make the COPA happen. Was supposed to stay on as 2nd in command at Ballad Health but left the day the COPA was issued.

Melody Trimble – Worked with Alan Levine at HMA and came to work with him at MSHA – also left the day the COPA was issued.

Identified Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Members (10 of 15): Bill Green, Brian Noland, David Golden, Scott Niswonger, Alan Levine, Dennis Phillips, Keith Wilson, Roy Harmon, Jerry Miller, John Tickle, Dr. Bill Hazel  (Secretary of Health & Human Resource for the Commonwealth of Virginia met with the Hole in the Wall Gang Sept. 2014.

Politicians —

Tennessee: Senator Rusty Crowe, Senator Mark Norris, Speaker Ron Ramsey, Representative Gary Hicks, Senator Diane Black, Representative Bud Hulsey, Senator Jon Lundberg, Representative David Hawk  – Also on COPA Advisory Council

Virginia: Terry Kilgore

Dani Cook is a local advocate from Bristol, Tennessee.

Casada-Jones “Special Prosecutor” Northcott Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriage, Defying Supreme Court

We previously revealed that Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott, special prosecutor on the Glen Casada-Justin Jones case, made deeply Islamophobic Facebook comments, and continues to hold those views.

The Holler has now unearthed video in which Northcott says that despite a 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, he refuses to recognize it as the law of the land, won’t prosecute same-sex domestic assaults as “domestic” cases, and even encourages county clerks not to process same-sex marriages – saying he would use his “prosecutorial discretion” to make sure they aren’t charged.

VIDEO:

One of the most explosive scandals in the scandal-tornado surrounding Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada – who has said he will be resigning his speakership possibly as soon as next week – has been the possibility that his office falsified the date on an email to frame civil rights activist Justin Jones, to show that Jones violated a no-contact order and have him thrown in jail.

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk recused himself from that case, saying that because he was the recipient of the email in question he couldn’t be impartial.

The Casada-Jones case then went to the Tennessee Attorneys General Conference, which sent it to a “special prosecutor” – Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott.

Recently The Holler revealed deeply Islamophobic Facebook comments by Northcott in which he referred to the Islamic faith as “evil” and equated it with the KKK and the Aryan Nation, while also saying there are “no constitutional rights”, only rights bestowed upon us by the “One True God”.

Our report prompted formal complaints from Muslim rights groups CAIR and AMAC calling for Northcott’s resignation.

As it turns out, Muslims may not be the only community who have reason for concern with Northcott.

We’ve just discovered the above video from March of 2018, at the Chafer Theological Seminary Pastor’s Conference, in which Northcott gives an hour-long speech about “The Local Church’s Role in Government”.

After his speech, Northcott is asked what a Christian county clerk who is against gay marriage should do when a same-sex couple shows up for a marriage license.

The questioner asks:

“Let’s say the federal government does something ridiculous like legalize gay marriage, and you’re a Christian county clerk working in a marriage license office… (joking) this is all hypothetical… and you refuse to follow the federal law, and the matter gets Brought to the district attorney. Whoever that might be. How as Christians do you think we should deal with all those situations?”

Northcott begins his answer by questioning the authority of the Supreme Court:

“5 people in black dresses rule us.”

He says that with the Obergefell V. Hodges ruling, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples, and required all 50 states to perform and recognize the marriages on the same terms and conditions as the marriages of opposite-sex couples, the Supreme Court was “legislating policy”:

“If you ever read their opinion, they don’t base it on the constitution, they don’t base it upon law, they don’t base it on anything… They start in the very first paragraph by saying ‘we think it is a better policy for homosexual marriage to be legitimized, therefore we’re gonna rule this way.”

Actually, Obergefell V. Hodges was based on both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In fact, the very first paragraph does talk about the constitution- in fact, the very first two words  of Justice Kennedy’s opinion are “The Constitution”.

Northcott then goes on to address the *hypothetical* situation about the Christian clerk faced with a decision about whether or not to issue a same sex marriage license. He makes it clear he doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage as a prosecutor, and advises the clerk not to “succumb” either. :

“As to the clerk, it just boils down to are you gonna do what God says? Or are you gonna do what man says? And the clerk will probably lose their job either immediately or through election if they take a stand on God’s Truth. We are not saved from the consequences of standing on the truth… that would be my advice to the clerk: Don’t succumb.

As to what a District Attorney like him would then do to the clerk, he points to “prosecutorial discretion” and the “unfettered” authority D.A.’s have as a way for him to avoid punishing Christian clerks:

“D.A.’s have what’s called prosecutorial discretion. Y’all need to know who your D.A. is – y’all give us a LOT of authority whether you know it or not… we can choose to prosecute anything, and we can choose not to prosecute anything, up to and including murder. It’s our choice, unfettered, so to deal with that you elect a good Christian man as D.A. and they’ll make sure that they at least don’t get prosecuted criminally.”

Northcott explains that the Supreme Court decision affected his profession in ways many people don’t realize, particularly concerning “domestic assault” charges, which carry heavier punishments than “simple assault” charges. Because treating assault charges between same-sex couples as “domestic assaults” would be to recognize same-sex marriage, Northcott says he does not, and accuses the Supreme Court of “social engineering”:

“So the social engineers on the Supreme Court decided that we now have homosexual marriage. I disagree with them. What do I do with domestic assaults?… The reason that there’s extra punishment on domestic assaults is to recognize and protect the sanctity of marriage. And I said there’s no marriage to protect. So I don’t prosecute them as domestics.”

He implies this isn’t the only way this view affects his work, saying “that is one of many decisions like that that you face (as a D.A.)”, and adds “you need someone who will do an evaluation on those terms in making those decisions” – which appears to mean voters should elect Christians who will similarly disobey Supreme Court rulings when they believe the rulings go against “God’s Truth”.

Northcott then finishes his answer by returning to the hypothetical clerk, saying not only would he not prosecute her, he’d embrace her:

“If your specific situation came to me I’d pat her on the back, give her a hug, and say ‘go at it.'”

The rest of Northcott’s speech about the role of the church in government makes it clear he doesn’t believe the “lie” about separation of church and state, and quite the contrary believes “government was created by God” and therefore church and state are inextricable:

He says only faithful Christians should hold public office as “ministers of God”, and that the role of the churches is to prepare those “faithful men” to hold those positions:

He also goes on to talk about the “Religious Test” which remains in the Tennessee constitution to this day, and in his eyes means that only Christians should serve in office in the state:

“The founders of the state of Tennessee recognized that only Christians could adequately understand and implement the purpose of all government offices. It’s still in our constitution.”

Article 9, section 2 of the Tennessee constitution does in fact say:

“No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

But while “No person who denies the being of God” seems to rule out only atheists, Northcott insists the clause refers to “the God of the Gospel… the only One True God”… and hopes “one of those crazy groups that hates religion” doesn’t figure it out and sue to have the clause removed.

Northcott adds:

“If there are no faithful Christians, there’s no one out there to elect and to hold these offices.”

He also tacks on a few words for the media, who he says are in the “back pockets” of “unfaithful men”:

When you get a faithful man into office and he takes principled stands, guess who’s gonna be upset? All those unfaithful men. Well guess who they’ve got in their back pocket? The media. All the most vocal enemies of Christ are in their back pocket. So what happens? The faithful man gets attacked from all sides. Everything is misconstrued, give you half the information… I don’t know if you realize this, but the media twists things and have an agenda they want to promote.”

He says if Christians step out of government, other “enemies” will fill in:

“Atheists, humanists, Muslims… If we step out, we turn it over to the Enemy.”

And adds at the end that churches should essentially tell their congregations who to vote for:

“Knowing who your political leaders are is a form of worship. If you are going to elect ministers of God, I think it’s up to the church to make sure those in their congregation are informed on that decision.”

The LGBT community doesn’t appear to be the only victims of Northcott’s “prosecutorial discretion”. In 2016 there was an incident in Coffee County in which police responded to a domestic dispute during which a woman named Cindy Lowe had been badly bruised and beaten, but Northcott appears to have used his “prosecutorial discretion” to drop the charges against Joseph Floied, seemingly because Floied is related to Adam Floied, assistant chief of the Manchester Police Department.

Here are some graphic pictures from the incident, posted by Lowe on Facebook:

And this is a Facebook post from Lowe after our previous article about Northcott’s Islamophobia:

It’s worth pointing out that in 2000, the Supreme Court of Tennessee had this to say about the role of “public prosecutors” and “prosecutorial discretion” in our judicial system, saying that it should be used “without discrimination or bias”:

Tenn. R. Sup.Ct. 8, EC 7-13.

In short, public prosecutors hold a unique office in our criminal justice system.   Contrary to the State’s contention on appeal, prosecutors are expected to be impartial in the sense that they must seek the truth and not merely obtain convictions. They are also to be impartial in the sense that charging decisions should be based upon the evidence, without discrimination or bias for or against any groups or individuals.  Yet, at the same time, they are expected to prosecute criminal offenses with zeal and vigor within the bounds of the law and professional conduct. See Berger, 295 U.S. at 88, 55 S.Ct. at 633.

As for the issue of same-sex marriage domestic violence, an American Bar report on the domestic violence “epidemic” in America tells us domestic violence is in fact a major issue in the LGBT community:

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) people experience domestic and intimate partner violence and sexual violence at rates similar to or higher than heterosexual and/or cisgender people… studies confirm that significant numbers of transgender people are subjected to intimate partner violence… Unfortunately, in a number of jurisdictions people who are abused by a partner of the same legal sex are unable to access vital legal protections.”

Northcott was recently selected by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference to be a member of the group’s legislative committee, which advises the Tennessee General Assembly regarding laws and issues concerning criminal justice and public safety. This is the second year Northcott has been asked to serve on the committee.

If you agree LGBT people should be afforded the same protections as everyone else in America, and that District Attorneys should not be disregarding Supreme Court rulings and taking the laws of the land entirely into their own hands while hiding behind “prosecutorial discretion”, Holler at District Attorney Northcutt HERE: 931-723-5057

And if you have concern about Northcott’s ability to handle his duties regarding the Jones-Casada case, or any other case, Holler at the Tennessee Attorneys General Conference to express them HERE: grjones@tndagc.org

Lastly, and importantly, if you’re in Coffee County, and you believe Northcott may have mishandled your case, email us at TheTNHoller@gmail.com – we have some people you should talk to.

 

THE 9 REPUBLICANS WHO MAY REPLACE CASADA

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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…


…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”:

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.

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.

That’s not socialism, it’s math.

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.

WORTH NOTING: Curtis Johnson was the FIRST of this group to call for Speaker Casada’s resignation.

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.

Special Prosecutor On Casada/Jones Case Says “Islam Is Evil”, And “No Constitutional Rights” Only Rights From The “One True God”

In recent Facebook comments, Coffee County D.A. Craig Northcott, the man now overseeing the Glen Casada-Justin Jones case, expressed intensely Islamophobic views, and also added that “there are no constitutional rights” only “God-given rights protected by the constitution”, adding: “If you don’t believe in the one true God, there is nothing to protect” because “no one other than God has given us any rights.”

In February, civil rights activist Justin Jones was charged with assault and banned from the capitol for throwing a cup of iced tea into the elevator in which Speaker Casada was riding. Casada had been dodging a meeting with Jones to discuss the removal of the bust of the KKK’s first Grand Wizard from the state capitol.

In the wake of the incident, Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk issued a “no-contact order” to Jones, which prohibited him from contacting Casada. Days later, Jones received a revocation of his bond because of an email he had supposedly sent to Speaker Casada AFTER the no-contact order, on March 1, according to an email printout sent by Casada’s office to the D.A.

But Jones had done no such thing. We now know the email in question was actually sent BEFORE the no-contact order.

Was it a “computer glitch”? An I.T. issue, as the legislature’s I.T. department has said?

Or was it Speaker Casada’s office – who has been exposed as using deeply racist language in text messages – doctoring evidence to have Jones thrown in jail?

These are questions that need answering. It will not, however, be District Attorney Funk who answers them.

Funk has recused himself from handling the case, according to a spokesman with his office, because his office was the recipient of the email whose date of receipt has come into question, and therefore Funk believes his office’s role as a potential witness puts him in conflict.

Instead, Funk referred the case to the District Attorneys General Conference, an umbrella group that oversees all the judicial districts in the state of Tennessee, which has since assigned the case to the Coffee County District Attorney’s office.

Why Coffee County? According to someone at the District Attorneys General Conference office, that process involves ruling out districts that are too close or too far away, checking availability, and then choosing from the districts that remain.

Coffee County’s District Attorney is Craig Northcott.

Craig Northcott has made it very clear in a Facebook conversation with the chair of the Coffee County Young Republicans that he believes the ideology of Muslims to be “evil”.

Extended excerpts from the conversation between District Attorney Craig Northcott and Daniel Berry, chair of the Young Republicans, follow below, but here are a few direct quotes from Northcott:

“Their (Muslims) belief system is evil, violent, and against God’s Truth.”

“They are evil because they profess a commitment to an evil belief system… They are no less evil because they don’t act on their belief system if they refuse to disavow that system.”

“It is no different than being part of the KKK, Aryan Nation, etc. if you support those viewpoints, you are rightly and readily condemned in our society. However, it is now politically incorrect to take a stand against Islam that has the same core of hate.”

“standing firm in God’s Truth which directly opposed to Islam will always be at the center of my position.”

“to deny their religion teaches hate is a denial of the truth”

“There are no constitutional rights. There are God given rights protected by the constitution. If you don’t believe in the one true God, there is nothing to protect. No one other than God has given us any rights.”

To be clear, Justin Jones is not a Muslim. He is a Christian who attends Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Still, Northcott’s Islamophobic beliefs would seem to be a problem not only for his involvement in the Justin Jones case – since Jones is a civil rights advocate who fights for the rights of people of color, and minorities in general – but also for his ability to perform his duties as District Attorney in general.

What follows are excerpts from Northcott’s conversation on Facebook with Berry.

The original post is Berry’s, asking if it’s ever “acceptable” to stereotype an entire group:

After a lengthy back and forth between Berry and other Facebook users about whether or not stereotyping Muslims is OK – during which Berry takes the position that it is not – someone then chimes in with an image from www.TheReligionOfPeace.com which makes the claim that “nearly 35,000 deadly terror attacks have been carried out by Islamic Terrorists since 9/11”:

Berry responds that even if that were true, that would mean in infinitesimally small % of Muslims had committed those atrocities: “So let’s damn 1.8 Billion people because of the actions of (a few). That seems pretty logical to me.”

That’s when District Attorney Northcott jumps in.

Right off the bat Northcott says “Their belief system is evil, violent, and against God’s Truth… they are taught to commit many atrocities in the name of their ‘God’ including pedophilia, beating of their wives, female genital mutilation, and ‘honor’ killings… they are evil because they profess a commitment to an evil belief system.”

As for who the “They” are, Northcott indicates he doesn’t just mean those who kill, but Muslims in general: “They are no less evil because they don’t act on their belief system if they refuse to disavow that system. Romans 1:32 comes to mind in which we are taught that you are just as guilty before God if you give approval to those who engage in evil acts. It is no different than being part of the KKK, Aryan Nation, etc. if you support those viewpoints, you are rightly and readily condemned in our society. However, it is now politically incorrect to take a stand against Islam that has the same core of hate. I do not hate the individual but I will not be cowered into pretending that their belief system is legitimate or one of peace.”

Northcott goes on to point to “what is happening in Europe” as evidence.

Berry responds by pointing out that not all Muslims are the same, just as not all Christians are the same, and that the barbaric “customs” Northcott mentioned are only carried out by a few and not part of the religion millions upon millions of Muslims follow. He also addresses many other “misconceptions” in Northcott’s post.

Berry concedes there are dangerous sects of Islam, but that the vast majority are peaceful people. He then suggests they continue the conversation in person, and says anti-Islam ideas Northcott is describing will not be the position of the Young Republicans of Coffee County, because he and other members believe that “close-minded mentality” and “negativity” is why people won’t join.

Northcott does not agree: “Just because some claim to not hold to some of it doesn’t change the fact that it is the core of Islam. Just because some actual or professed Christians disavow God’s Truth on marriage doesn’t make it any less part of Christianity. Falling for political correctness or an individual’s take on Islam is dangerous.”

Berry then tries to impart to Northcott that at the very least vilifying Muslims shouldn’t be at the forefront of what Republicans do, because it doesn’t help the people of Coffee County and takes away from “actual issues” – but Northcott doesn’t go with him on with that.

Northcott: “If the Republican Party doesn’t stand for anything, it has no reason to exist. The whole purpose is so citizens can know what the core values of a candidate are if they run as a Republican. If that makes me closed minded, so be it. Frankly, I find that our community and country are crying out for people with principles and the courage to stand up for them.”

Berry then says he trusts Northcott and law enforcement to protect from Islamic extremism or hate crimes, to which Northcott responds he “will work for our community, but standing firm in God’s Truth which directly opposed to Islam will always be at the center of my position.”

Islamophobia isn’t just something he dabbles in, it’s “the center.”

Berry then goes on to explain that he’s not defending those who are violent or extreme, and again reiterates that not all Muslims are. He says he believes there are many misconceptions he’s trying to counter, and that he doesn’t believe “the best way to go about moving people away from Islam (if that is the goal) is to go around and label everyone as a terrorist threat. That pushes people away and isolates them further which in turn has the opposite of the intended effect.”

Northcott answers by telling Berry he finds it “extremely offensive that you chose Easter weekend to be an apologist for Islam,” and says the focus should be on Christ instead and the “historical facts” of Christ’s return, and that whoever believes them “is saved and will spend all eternity in Heaven with God.”

Berry asks D.A. Northcott “not to label him as an apologist simply because you disagree with or don’t understand my stance, to which Northcott decides to summarize it all and then he’s “moving on”.

To summarize, Northcott turns to bullet points.

#1 is that Berry saying Christians and Muslims worship the same God is “blasphemy”.

#2 is that he’s troubled Berry hasn’t cited any scripture, only the Koran.

But #3 is the kicker…

3) There are no constitutional rights. There are God given rights protected by the constitution. If you don’t believe in the one true God, there is nothing to protect. No one other than God has given us any rights.

Quite a statement from a District Attorney.

In bullet point #4 Northcott says if being D.A. means he has to stay silent on this, he doesn’t want his job: “I will not be silenced by implications that I am not and can not do my job correctly if I don’t agree with you. If I have to remain silent and not give a defense of the Gospel, I don’t want my job.”

He then says he’s “clearly” not required to stay silent because he has freedom of speech.

In #5 Northcott says “to deny their religion teaches hate is a denial of the truth” – then goes on to tell Berry where to find *better* info about Islam.

Did #3 concern you? It concerned Berry too.

Berry says, “I would argue #3 disqualified you from being D.A.”

Berry says Northcott represents “EVERY SINGLE PERSON” as an elected official regardless of their beliefs, “Not just Christians,” and says #3 concerns him greatly because he swore an oath to uphold the Constitution.

Northcott then elaborates on #3, adding that “Rights come from God”, and therefore “if there is no God there is nothing to protect”.

Berry says one of those rights is the freedom of religion and asks if Northcott defends that right regardless of which religion it is. Northcott responds by citing the Declaration of Independence and says the Founding Fathers asserted our “self-evident” rights come from God, and among them is the freedom of religion – even if it means not worshipping Him: “So, yes, freedom of religion comes from God even when that freedom results in rejecting him.”

Northcott says he does defend the right to freedom of religion, as long as nobody gets hurt, but again reminds Berry he thinks Islam = Hate: “No one including myself or the government can stop the mental attitude of hate.”

He then goes on to say Berry saying bullet point #3 disqualified him from office was said “without factual basis” and therefore “ends up just harming your (Berry’s) credibility.

Berry seems relieved Northcott does defend Freedom of Religion, and suggests Northcott’s bullet point #3 where he says “there are no Constitutional rights” was “easily misinterpreted” by anyone reading it.

Berry apologizes to Northcott, and elaborates on his views.

Northcott accepts his apology, and offers to come by and teach on the subject of the role of Christians in government (which does not seem to subscribe to the separation of church and state).

In summation, the man now in charge of Justin Jones case thinks Islam is”evil” and on par with the KKK, and that there’s no such thing as constitutional rights, only rights the one true God gave us that the constitution upholds. 

Northcott has also “liked” the page of Act! For Coffee County, the Coffee County chapter of Act for America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as a hate group.

When contacted for comment by the Holler, Northcott responded:

“The laws protect everyone equally. I judge every situation based up on the facts and circumstances… you assess each individual as you find them, but the ideology is evil.”

While Berry told us:

“I was a little alarmed in the statement he made regarding that ‘all rights come from the one true God.’ Coming from a prosecutor, that’s a little alarming. I believe religion is separate from the law. When you become an elected official it’s ok to hang onto those beliefs but you have to separate those on some level.”

As for Northcott’s beliefs about Muslims, Berry says:

“I think he’s absolutely wrong in his beliefs. I understand his fear, but when I read those comments as a non-Muslim, they’re extremely offensive to me. If I were a Muslim, especially coming from a public official, I’d find that to be extremely offensive and not becoming of somebody in that position.”

Does Berry believe Justin Jones should be concerned about Northcott’s ability to oversee a case like this?

“I would be extremely concerned if I was an activist (like Jones) fighting for those rights and that was the person on my case, having read those comment. I would question his ability to be fair.”

If after reading all of this you agree that Justin Jones – and people of color, and Muslims in general – may have a hard time getting justice from a man who holds these beliefs, feel free to holler at District Attorney Northcott HERE.

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

 

 

Casada Talks To Phil Valentine, Defends Racist Staffer, Calls Out Phil Williams

Speaker Glen Casada recently went on Phil Valentine’s radio show on 99.7 to address the recent situation(s) with his racist chief of staff. It was the longest Casada has spoken about the issues, so we figured we’d break down what he said here…

They started by talking about the dust-up at the legislature on the final day, where Democrats were kept off of key committees then locked inside the house by Casada when they attempted to leave in protest during a recess.

Valentine asks:

“Let’s start with this whole notion Democrats were locked inside the house floor, is there any truth to that?”

He seems to expect Casada to say “nope, no truth at all”. Casada does not:

“They were elected to serve the people, and to vote. State law is very clear that if you’re not there in the chamber the speaker has the authority to come get you by state trooper… if they had left the building I was going to have state troopers come get ’em.”

In other words, yes, he did that.

Valentine then recalibrates, calling it “routine”. Casada agrees, saying the law is if you’re going to be a state legislator “you cannot leave with no cause” and “We’re not going to forcefully hold someone in a room. But we were reminding them of their duties.”

Welcome to Glen Casada’s Tennessee.

Anyway, moving on… next Valentine brings up Speaker Casada’s $200,000 chief of staff Cade Cothren’s text messages, which call Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winson a “thug nig*er” and says “black people are idiots”, among other things.

Here are some screen shots from Channel 5’s Phil Williams, who broke the story:

Valentine:

“The text messages – You’ve seen those. Are they real?”

Casada:

“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.”

Well, if you asked him and he said “no” Glen, that should be good enough for anyone!

This seems like a good time to point out that we uncovered Cade’s Venmo account which also has racist *digital blackface* emojis, as well as some blatant homophobia:

Also, Cade Cothren has now deleted all of his social media accounts. Not quite the actions of an innocent man.

Casada then turns to the issue of whether or not his office falsified evidence by changing the date on an email to frame civil rights activist Justin Jones and get him thrown in jail for violating a no-contact order, as Channel 5 reported.

To Recap: Jones sent an email to Casada’s office on February 25th. Casada’s office says they received it March 1st, which would violate a no-contact order put on Jones by the D.A.’s office in the wake of an assault charge for throwing iced tea at the speaker, who was avoiding meeting with Jones about removing the bust of the first KKK Grand Wizard sitting in the capitol.

Casada’s Chief of Staff had previously lied to Jones, telling him he was misspelling the word “capitol” in his emails, when he wasn’t.

Upon receipt of the email with the March 1st date from Casada’s office, D.A. Glenn Funk’s office filed a motion to have Jones thrown in jail, before eventually circling back to Casada’s office about the date discrepancy and dropping the motion.

Here’s the latest explanation for what happened, from I.T. at the legislature – which says the email was held by them before releasing it days later.

But forgive us for remaining skeptical, since we’ve heard from state reps who say they’ve received pornography from outside the legislature without it being caught up in the system.

Questions remain:

Why would a REPLY from someone Cothren was already emailing with get caught up in the system?

And would the date on a “quarantined” email say when it hit the Speaker’s office, or when it initially hit the system? (We’ve heard from many IT people who say the latter)

And why would these messages from Phil Williams, which contain no inflammatory content, not have made it through to Casada’s office?

All due respect to the I.T. department at the legislature, we’re going to need to hear from someone who doesn’t work for Speaker Casada about all of this.

D.A. Glenn Funk’s office needs to investigate.

We’ve asked Funk’s office what the scope of the special prosecutor’s investigation is – are they looking into all of this? Or are they just looking into the actions of Justin Jones? 

So far we haven’t heard back.

The racists texts from Casada’s Chief of Staff are one thing, but if his office was intentionally falsifying evidence to get a man thrown in jail, that’s something that must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Back to the interview, Casada then tried to use the technical defense of the date discrepancy to turn the tables on Channel 5’s Phil Williams, essentially saying that if the falsification of evidence story was explainable, that then calls the racist text messages part of the story into question:

“Here’s what we know about this Phil Williams story – the emails he alleged that we doctored is false, and our I.T. department has contacted Channel 5 and said here’s the timeline, here’s the evidence that it went into Casada’s office on March 1st… they still allege we tampered with it. The evidence shows we didn’t. If Channel 5 is willing to run a story they know isn’t true – or at a minimum, misleading – could the rest of the story be false? Did someone feed Phil Williams false text messages that were not real?”

See what Casada’s doing there? He’s using a maybe plausible explanation for the email date discrepancy to then cast aspersions on the veracity of the racists texts from his Chief of Staff Cade Cothren – and, in turn, Phil Williams of Channel 5.

Here’s the problem though: As you can see above, Cothren wasn’t responding to Phil Williams when he was asking for an explanation. He also didn’t respond when Williams showed up with a camera, and neither did Casada, whose only answer was “I know nothing, about that.”

Then, hours later, they had their story straight.

So to act like Williams didn’t give them every opportunity to explain themselves is simply disingenuous.

As for the veracity of the texts – again, this is something that is easily proven or disproven by whoever has the texts. But knowing what we know about Cothren’s Venmo account (see above), it’s hard to believe they aren’t real.

And in the background of all of this is the fact that this started because the speaker refuses to move the bust of the KKK’s first Grand Wizard, and that the speaker supported and promoted admitted child sex abuser Rep. David Byrd – while lying about the easily disprovable fact that he had met with Byrd’s victims, when he had not.

You can see why anyone who’s paying attention would have trouble taking Casada’s word for anything these days.

Casada then goes on to tell Phil Valentine he has “full faith and confidence” that his chief of staff is not a racist:

“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.

No, Glen – your chief of staff being a racist also makes a lot of sense.

Also, racism and forgery are not partisan issues. Casada would like to politicize this, but Every Tennessean who isn’t a racist should be deeply concerned if Casada’s #1 guy is using the N word and calling black people “idiots”, and his office framing people.

The callback to President Trump’s “guy living in a basement” excuse is cute, but let’s not forget Trump used that to say Russia was NOT hacking and tampering with our election, which we now know from Mueller they WERE.

May want to choose a better example next time, Glen.

Valentine then asks Casada what he’ll do if he *finds out* the text messages are real (reminder: he knows they are, so take this with a grain of salt).

Casada:

“There is no room for anybody at the state capitol to be bigoted or a racist or a hatemongerer. So no matter who it is they would be either resigned or let go. But that’s how much confidence I have in my chief of staff that he did not do this.”

He’s on record: If they’re real, Cade’s gone.

Valentine asks Casada if he’ll require Cothren to turn over his phone. Casada says it’s his personal phone so he can’t compel him to turn it over:

“That would be a bar we ask no one else to comply with… he in front of me typed in key words to see if it would pop up on his phone, and it did not.”

As we all know, all you need to do is delete the text conversation for the words to disappear, so this is a really bad excuse.

Casada then goes on to poke the hornets nest that is Phil Williams:

“Phil Williams gets sued for slander about every other day. So this is not the first time he’s run that kind of story… he knew it wasn’t true, and they still ran the story.”

In a truth-off between Glen Casada and Phil Williams, we’ll ride with Williams 10 times out of 10.

We’re not sure going at Williams like this is in the Speaker’s best interest, but time will tell. In the meantime we’ll have our DVR set for Channel 5 at 6pm for the foreseeable future.

Casada also added:

“When we found out the next day, we opened it up and read it, and in the body of the email from Justin Jones it did say February 25, we contacted the D.A.’s office and we said look we said this but we don’t know why it says February 25th… our I.T. Department can 100% say it didn’t go into my inbox until March 1st.”

It’s unclear who initiated the dialogue about the date discrepancy. Some emails seem to show it was actually the D.A.’s office who caught it, not Casada’s office. Also, “the next day” is an interesting phrase to use, since the motion to revoke Jones’ bond was filed on March 4th.

Casada then closes by saying:

“I’ve done a little research. These messages can be created and made to look authentic. That’s why I’m convinced this is a hatchet job by liberal activists.”

Again, Cothren has deleted all social media. He was racist and homophobic on Venmo. He lied to Justin Jones about misspelling “capitol” in emails, and Casada himself lied about meeting with Rep. Byrd’s victims.

Casada has repeatedly shown us his relationship with the truth is distant. Regardless of party, everyone should be concerned about what it says about Tennessee’s speaker of the house that he’s so willing to support admitted child sex offenders and blatant racists.

Valentine then asks about Cothren’s $200,000 a year salary, and asks Casada to commit to lowering it to something more reasonable, but Casada refuses:

“What he does is invaluable.. it’s a very high stress job. The better people are paid well. When you do that you don’t get someone who’s top-notch.”

Let’s remember that Cothren was working for Casada for $60,000 just last year. And “Better People” don’t use the N Word and say “black people are idiots”.

District Attorney Funk, if you’re listening, please investigate the actions of the Speaker’s office. Tennessee deserves to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he isn’t harboring racists who are willing to falsify evidence to have a man thrown in jail. And they need to hear it from someone other than his own I.T. department.

If you think Cade Cothren needs to be fired, holler at Speaker Casada here: Speaker.Glen.Casada@Capitol.TN.Gov

If you think District Attorney Funk needs to investigate all of the above, holler at him here: GlennFunk@jisnashville.org