Recently we learned a $4 MILLION line item found its way into the budget, seemingly intended for grant projects in rural communities to grease the skids for Governor Lee’s public school-harming vouchers, which would steer public money to private schools.
The legislation may have been the brainchild of Speaker Glen Casada, who has since stepped down in disgrace, but it clearly also has the fingerprints of Governor Lee and his Finance Dept. chief Stuart Mcwhorter all over it.
There have been reports that 60 specific projects were promised to rural legislators to get their votes for the bill, which barely passed the house, but Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe says he has seen no such list, and points the finger SQUARELY at Lee and Mcwhorter.
WATCH BELOW as Rolfe says “WE DID NOT PROPOSE THAT”, distancing himself from the money at the budget hearing last week. (Rep. Martin Daniel has said there will be no investigation into this. Shocker!)
Finally! The Williamson County Republican Party, party of deposed-House Speaker Glen Casada and Senator Marsha Blackburn , weighed in on climate change yesterday, and on the hottest October day on record to boot.
Before we get too hopeful for rationality, let’s review what the local GOP said. An email sent to subscribers began with a request for right-wingers to step up and run for Williamson County School Board — a non-partisan race — in 2020.
According to the Grand Ole Party, it’s necessary for good conservatives to come to the aid of their party and their county because all those poor underpaid public school teachers are bent on indoctrinating children with wild theories about climate change and oh, showing respect for people who aren’t white.
“The sad reality is that like Climate Change activist Greta Thunberg, students all over the country have become products of indoctrination and fear in the public school system from a very young age,” said the post. (Psst: Which country? Greta is from Sweden.)
The post added “certain staff and educators” are forcing white privilege training on teachers in the county school system.
These claims aren’t new. Earlier this year, the Williamson GOP made news when they went bonkers about a training on inclusion in schools.
Nor is this the party’s first time at interjecting partisan politics into the local school elections. In 2014, GOP donor Kent Davis advised Republican candidates for the — again, for the cheap seats: non-partisan — school board on strategies for ousting then Director of Schools Mike Looney, a frequent target of the right. In an email outlining his strategy, Davis included Casada and Susan Curlee, who was elected to the board that year. (Curlee has since moved to Lawrence County, where she chairs the Lawrence County Republican Party.)
In 2015, the Williamson board made the Atlantic Monthly in a story citing then-board member Dr. Beth Burgos, also on the 2014 Davis email cited above, and her campaign to remove alleged “Islamic indoctrination” from the schools.
So, the fear of indoctrination and a bent for injecting partisan politics into what is — and should be — non-partisan races isn’t surprising.
But, Greta is still right.
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.
🚨NEW VIDEO: THE SPEAKER @GlenCasada SUPERCUT🚨
The lies, racism, drugs, sexism, fraud, spying, bribery, and covering for child sex abusers that has gone on here in Tennessee on Speaker @GlenCasada‘s watch.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) May 10, 2019
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.
NEW VIDEO: “Tennessee Students to Governor @BillLeeTN – Remove KKK Grand Wizard Bust From State Capital!”
“We’re tired of being tired.” – @JeneishaCHarris
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) February 1, 2019
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.
This is WRONG. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general & a delegate to the 1868 Democratic Convention. He was also a slave trader & the 1st Grand Wizard of the KKK. Tennessee should not have an official day (tomorrow) honoring him. Change the law. https://t.co/XBgoRCBoI0
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 12, 2019
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.
Channel 5’s report on Governor Lee’s possible involvement with disgraced speaker Glen Casada offering a military promotion to Rep. Windle as a bribe for a key vote on his public school-harming vouchers bill.
Lee’s office claims to have ZERO texts from the day, won’t share emails either. 🤔
“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?
Video from the hearing of Justin Jones & Jeneisha Harris last week, presided over by openly bigoted D.A. Northcott, who says Muslims are “evil” and refuses to recognize the supreme court’s marriage equality ruling and treat LGBT people equally under the law (both stories broken by the Holler).
He also refuses to bring in the TBI to investigate Speaker Casada possibly framing Jones, even though they have offered (see below).300 Tennessee attorneys just filed a motion to have Northcott’s law license taken away.
The next hearing is August 15th at 9AM in Courtroom 4D.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) July 29, 2019
From the Democratic Caucus:
Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart today asked “where did all the money go?” Stewart demanded a full accounting into the financial dealings of outgoing Speaker Glen Casada’s Republican leadership team.
“All of these reports of no-show jobs, five figure raises for former interns and multi-million dollar expenditure increases need to be fully examined before we go into special session and vote on a new Speaker. The Republicans cannot be permitted to use the Special Session to sweep these issues under the rug and hide the truth from the citizens who were forced to foot the bill for all this nonsense.”
Representative Gloria Johnson added:
“The reports we have read about misspent money are deeply offensive to the citizens of my district; these taxpayers are entitled to know what happened to every cent of their hard-earned tax dollars.”
Stewart called on a three-pronged approach to determine how funds were misspent, misallocated and/or misused during the Speaker’s administration:
- A full financial audit by the comptroller’s office into spending on purchases, salaries and allocations made by the Speaker’s office since Casada’s election.
- The appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the no-show jobs held by employees of the Speaker’s office.
- An open records release of all financial records, receipts, timesheets and other documents for full public review.
Chairman Stewart urged that all requests need to be completed before the called special session August 23rd, saying:
“Otherwise, we risk the possibility that the Republicans will just put one of Casada’s cronies in as Speaker in an effort to sweep evidence of financial malfeasance under the rug. If that happens, the taxpayers will never really know the full cost of the Casada Gravy Train and those that got the money will never be held accountable.”
Speaking of no-show jobs, the Holler has been told Michael Lotfi, who was on the receiving end of one of Casada’s no-show jobs and was attacked child sex abuse survivors while on the payroll, is still handling social media for Tennessee House Republicans.
Williamson County residents gathered on the Public Square in Franklin on Friday to call for Speaker Casada to resign from the legislature completely, immediately.