Posts

TN GOP Rep. Ryan Williams Says TN Maternal Mortality “LIKE A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY”

Watch Republican Rep. Ryan Williams tell TennCare officials Tennessee is “like a third world country” when it comes to maternal mortality, thereby making a great case for MEDICAID EXPANSION, which his own party continues to block.

TN is #1 in Medical Bankruptcies and rural hospital closures per capita as a result.

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.

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