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INTERVIEW: ATLANTA ANTIFA SPEAKS

The president has just attempted to declare Antifa a terrorist organization, and there has been a concerted effort by conservatives to blame the social upheaval we’re seeing on Antifa to distract from the real issues of police brutality and white supremacy.

There have been many videos of white people dressed in black causing destruction, but we’ve also seen that white supremacists are doing the same in an effort to pin the blame on Antifa… so where does the truth lie? What is Antifa exactly?

In an effort to hear from Antifa directly, we reached out to Atlanta Antifa on Twitter, and they responded and were kind enough to talk to us. This is what they had to say.

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HOLLER:  My first question is, what is Antifa?

Atlanta Antifa:  “Well I think at this point it’s a rapidly evolving word and it’s used in two ways, one is just generically anti-fascist. Anybody who doesn’t like Nazis. So in that definition, there is there’s a lot of people who say people who fought in World War II were Antifa, and you know in a certain perspective that’s totally true, but it’s also used in a more specific way to talk about the groups that rose out of the old anti-racist actions from the 80s and 90s which were specifically designed to fight the far right, to monitor and counter KKK, Nazis, racist boneheads…. and then in the modern era, the alt-right. So our group is part of that more specific meaning of the word Antifa and we consider ourselves to be in that tradition. It’s an international movement to monitor and counter the far-right.

HOLLER:  And when you say our group, who is our group?

Atlanta Antifa:  “Atlanta Anti-Fascists.”

HOLLER:  How much coordination is there among Antifa groups in America?

Atlanta Antifa:  “I would say we have a lot of coordination in terms of information sharing because really the vast majority of the work we do is monitoring, using open source intelligence. We will try to doxx Nazis and uncover their plans, de-platform them, so we share a lot of information, frequently publicly, in a decentralized way. We have no hierarchy, so there’s no leader of Antifa, groups don’t use real names, we tend to use a lot of information security because the Nazis are after us you know like the Base Plot for example, when they tried to assassinate two people they thought were our members, so we use a lot of security in order to keep ourselves safe because the people that we are after are pretty violent.”

HOLLER:  So how did it start if there’s no hierarchy?

Atlanta Antifa:  “I would say that while being an anarchist is not a prerequisite for entry, the group is fairly non-ideological when it comes to that, the dominant culture comes out of the anarchist political tradition in which you don’t want to have a strong structure or hierarchy because that a lot of times leads to abuse, so instead, folks contribute what they can. They do what they can and coordinate that way and operate by consensus and voting, and not “you do this, here and now.” We have coordination, but we don’t have hierarchy and leadership.”

HOLLER:  Is violence a part of what you do?

Atlanta Antifa:  “The vast majority of the time, no. Something like 99% of what we do is nonviolent. But, at the same time if it comes to that, we are definitely prepared to do that and we would not condemn it. I’m talking about stuff that Antifa, does encountering Nazis. For example, the protest in Newnan where there was a possibility of something like that happening but it was a community defense situation, it would have been defending AGAINST Nazis. So that’s pretty much the area where violence comes in. I would say our philosophy is we comment combat racism and fascism by any means necessary but almost all of the time those means are not violent.

HOLLER:  So, I’m assuming you’re seeing what’s happening in the country right now…

Atlanta Antifa:  “Yes.”

HOLLER:  “…And there’s been a concerted effort by Republicans, the President, the right-wing, Fox News, and all the way down the line to state and local legislators on the right, to essentially lay this at the feet, in large part, of Antifa. What do you think when you see that?”

Atlanta Antifa:  “Well it’s sort of a wary disappointment because it feels like this has all been done before. It’s damaging I think because a lot of what is happening this weekend is a black-led reaction to white racist police violence and it shouldn’t really be about us. Although we are definitely very against racist beliefs, we are not planning or coordinating any of this. We are just supporting it. We are a small group, so our support mainly comes from monitoring these protests and trying to keep an eye out if any Nazis and far-right militia members are showing up so that we can warn people. That’s what we see as our function, but we have been sort of cast in the central role as the villain when we’re not even on the stage, let’s just put it that way. And it echoes back to the 1950s and 60s when racists were trying to discount the Civil Rights Movement which was led by black people they would say oh “they’re being puppeted by white Communists, it’s all outside agitators,” and I feel like people are reaching for that same playbook again and using us in order to discredit this other group. The other thing I want to say is that it’s dangerous because it encourages law enforcement to just crack down so much harder on people who are just trying to defend themselves against racists in their communities and these people may not have any connection at all to our group, which is a very specialized group in this tradition that I’m talking about going back to the 1980s, but anybody who says Nazis are bad now could be “ANTIFA” and will get cracked down harder on by police and law enforcement.”

HOLLER:  Right, meanwhile though there are videos all over the place of white people just dressed in all black running around being destructive, and we as the public have come to recognize mostly white people dressed in all black as Antifa. We’ve seen pictures of white supremacists dressing up as Antifa to create this narrative, but is it possible that there are actually people who consider themselves Antifa who are doing this?

Atlanta Antifa:  “Well, the situation is very chaotic and confusing, and the fact that there are white people causing damage, sometimes white people causing damage is it even political, like if you look at all these riots that happen after football. I think right now there’s a lot of different stuff happening and people do not want to examine the situation it is complexity, so they picked a very simple narrative, and the narrative a lot of people have picked are that we are the villain. I will say that that’s really our number one thing, is that we are trying to monitor any far-right people who have shown up at these protests that we can warn other protesters and track them, but it’s difficult because sometimes people hide their identities. We do think that sometimes the participation of white supremacists has been overstated though.”

HOLLER: So you’re involved with communication right? There’s something called The Torch Network?

Atlanta Antifa:  “Well, The Torch Network is just a loose affiliation of some Antifa groups such as us, Portland, and so on. It’s an information-sharing network connecting the larger groups. There a lot of Antifa groups that are not members of The Torch Network. But the thing to understand is it’s totally decentralized and autonomous, so anybody can say that they’re Antifa, and anybody can say that they’re not Antifa. So the fact that somebody who is white and wearing all black and is destroying something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s “Antifa.”

HOLLER:  So you are involved in the communication theoretically of whatever this the closest thing to the centralized communication that there is. Is the goal to go out there and cause chaos or is it the opposite?

Atlanta Antifa:  “It’s neither. We have no goal, actually. When it comes to this protest, we basically we support any black-led rebellion against racist policing, let’s just put it that way. We support, it but we don’t have a role in controlling it, and if we could then we wouldn’t because we don’t think that’s our role. I know that the popular that perception is, that Antifa is all white, but that’s actually not the case. People who are involved in these Antifa groups all stay anonymous because we don’t want Nazis trying to kill us, and there are definitely members of Antifa who are not white, but those members tend to stay even more anonymous because they get even more negative attention.

When it comes to the riots, I keep saying this but it’s totally true – if you talk to these other groups they’ll say the same thing, that we are not planning this. We are not saying okay this is the goal and go do it. When groups are coming together and they’re tearing down Confederate statues or making the police retreat, we’re going to cheer that on because we believe that that’s a good thing, against fighting racism and fascism, but we are not coordinating this. We are not the Puppet Masters.”

HOLLER:  Right, so now the President has essentially said that they’re going to declare Antifa as a terrorist organization. How do you feel about that?

Atlanta Antifa:  “Well you know like I said at the beginning, we’re kind of used to it at this point because he made the same threats last summer. We’re not sure if it’s even legal or Constitutional for him to do that, although I’m sure it will result in an increased law enforcement presence, but you know like I said, most of the stuff that we do is completely legal and covered under the First Amendment anyway. We think that the crackdown that will result will probably not affect groups like ours, although it may affect our social media and things like that, but it won’t affect us as much as it will affect every day just regular people who are accused of being our members.”

HOLLER: Right, so now they can declare anybody Antifa and treat them as terrorists.

Atlanta Antifa:  “Yes, exactly, in his supporters already think that they can do that. They’re all saying “you’re going to be dragged off to GTMO,” and having all these fantasies of violent retribution.”

HOLLER:  “We had a courthouse burned here, and they caught a guy who seems to have been involved. There was also a guy in all black right in front of him, and immediately the narrative was “oh he’s Antifa.” Fox Nashville came out and said that with zero proof of it. Meanwhile, he had what looked to be a white supremacist tattoo, and he’s from Nashville and has done other stuff here. When that happens is there any communication among you all to say that he was or wasn’t one of ours? Is there any way to validate or invalidate those kinds of claims?:

Atlanta Antifa:  “Well, we’re all about transparent communication and public service, so if I knew anything about that case that was helpful I would say it, but I don’t.”

HOLLER:  Gotcha, mean I wasn’t expecting that you knew anything about that case, I was Just saying is your group of where that that happened, and is there any communication among you saying does anybody know this guy or has anybody heard of this guy that kind of thing?

Atlanta Antifa:  “No.”

HOLLER:  Is there any desire on the part of Antifa to control the narrative?

Atlanta Antifa:  “We really can’t control the narrative because the nation has gotten so polarized at this point that the right-wing believes what they want to believe, and in many cases the mainstream media is taking their cues from the right. All we can do is just say the truth and hope people will pick up on it. Our business is not to go around avowing or disavowing all these different actions that are taking place this week, we’re just we’re not focused on that.”

HOLLER:  Got it. I think people will be interested to have heard from you, so is there any message that you have either for people who are supporting the feelings black people are having, or for those who are trying to blame you like the president? Is there anything that you want to say?

Atlanta Antifa:  “I think that we have to take care of each other, do a lot of mutual aid, support each other, and listen to each other. But that kind of listening and process it has to start from the bottom up. It can’t go from the top down. We have to listen to the people who are the most hurt, and the most powerless in society, and not go the other direction.”

HOLLER:  All right well I appreciate you doing this and be careful out there.

 

VIDEO: The Justin Jones & Jeneisha Harris Hearing

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.

 

VIDEO: MEET ZULFAT SUARA – Candidate for Nashville Metro Council At-Large

There are 15 candidates running for 5 at-large seats on the Metro Council in the August election. Zulfat Suara is the first Muslim woman to have ever run for any position in the state of Tennessee- she ran in 2014 in Bolivar, Tenn., for school board – and if elected, she will be the first Muslim, male or female, ever elected in Tennessee.

She has been the target of hate online, but she has persevered, and was just recently one of the candidates endorsed by the Tennessean.

We spoke with Zulfat in Nashville at a candidates picnic at Vanderbilt, where one of her daughters is enrolled in Medical school. Please watch and SHARE the video.

MEET ZULFAT:

GOV. LEE SIGNS FIRST KKK GRAND WIZARD DAY PROCLAMATION

From the Tennessean today:

Gov. Bill Lee has proclaimed Saturday as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee, a day of observation to honor the former Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader whose bust is on display in the state Capitol.

Per state law, the Tennessee governor is tasked with issuing proclamations for six separate days of special observation, three of which, including the July 13 Forrest Day, pertain to the Confederacy.

There have been repeated protests of the bust of Forrest, the KKK’s first Grand Wizard, which is still featured prominently in the Tennessee state legislature to this day.

The Tennessean reports that Lee said “I signed the bill because the law requires that I do that and I haven’t looked at changing that law.”

They also remind us that Lee was found to have worn confederate uniforms in college, which he now says he regrets:

Lee earlier this year said he regretted participating in “Old South” parties at Auburn University nearly four decades ago as part of Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity that lists Robert E. Lee as its “spiritual founder.”

The governor, a college student at the time, was also pictured in an Auburn yearbook dressed in a Confederate Army uniform, a common practice for members of the fraternity at the time.

“I never intentionally acted in an insensitive way, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that participating in that was insensitive and I’ve come to regret it,” Lee said in February.

Lee has said he may be open to “adding context” to the statue rather than removing it, but has done nothing to pursue that.

Rep. Bob Freeman has proposed replacing it with a women’s suffrage statue, and has vowed to introduce that legislation in the next session.

Holler at your reps to support Freeman’s legislation, and holler at Governor Bill Lee if you think he should not be reaffirming Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.

VIDEO: “My Uncle Is A Terrorist” – Detective Fritts’ Niece

Cherish Hope Newman, niece of Knox County Sheriff’s Detective/Pastor Grayson Fritts – who has called for the mass execution of LGBT people – speaks out.

She says that side of her family is “mostly full of racist bigots”, she won’t stand by silently as her uncle tries to turn Christianity into ISIS, and that God is a “merciful and loving God” who does not “hate” anyone.

Comment on her YouTube video HERE.

First spotted on WVLT.

 

John Oliver Gloriously Roasts Casada & Cothren

Beyond our wildest dreams we never would have imagined the great John Oliver shining his light on the ugliness that is Casadagate, but that glorious day has arrived.

If you’ve ever wanted to hear John Oliver say the words “Cade Cothren’s Rapidly-Expelled Ejaculate”, now is your chance.

We wish he would have mentioned his support for Rep. Byrd, and possibly framing Justin Jones, but hey- we’ll take what we can get.

VIDEO: The Saddest White Supremacist Rally In TN History

White supremacist Rick Tyler held a rally at UT-Knoxville, but his audience forgot to show up. Protestors outnumbered them 10-1. Sad!

Shout-out to Chris Irwin for the awesome trolling.

 

VIDEO: THE SPEAKER CASADA SUPERCUT

A lot has happened in the past 2 weeks, so here’s our super cut of some of it. Watch and share.

It’s time for Speaker Glen Casada to resign. If you agree, holler at him HERE.

 

Casada Speaks After Meeting with the Black Caucus

Here’s our twitter thread breaking down Casada’s press conference after he met with the Black Caucus. We’re putting it here for those who don’t follow us on Twitter.

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