VIDEO: Survivor Speaks Out At Williamson Town Hall, Casada A No-Show

This morning in Williamson County at a Town Hall event Speaker Casada was billed to be attending, Casada was a no-show.

The rest of the Williamson delegation – Senator Jack Johnson, Rep. Sam Whitson, and Rep. Brandon Ogles -were all there, as were some CNN cameras, but Casada was nowhere to be found.

Had he been there he would’ve been confronted by survivor Ashley Massey of Lawrence County, who bravely spoke up anyway about Casada’s support for David Byrd, who can be heard admitting on tape to sexual abuse with his former high school basketball players.

Here’s the video:


Sam Whitson got up and left, and Brandon Ogles attempted to perpetuate the false notion that anything in the Casada video posted earlier this week was being taken “out of context”.

Please share the video on Twitter and Facebook, and if you have a problem with the way they reacted, holler at Sam Whitson HERE and Brandon Ogles HERE.

VAN HUSS ON HEARTBEAT BILL: “Incest Sometimes OK, Rape Sometimes Woman’s Fault”

Yesterday House Bill 77, the “heartbeat bill”, cleared the Public Health Subcommittee and has been referred to the Health Committee. The Senate version of the bill – SB1236, carried by Sen. Pody – was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Read more

UPDATE: Rep. Byrd’s Accusers Say They Never Met With Speaker Casada

Yesterday we posted a video, picked up by the Tennessean, News Channel 5, Slate, and the Huffington Post, where former congressional candidate Justin Kanew confronted Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada about his support for Rep. David Byrd – who has admitted on tape to sexually assaulting players he coached at Wayne County High School.


Former Speaker Beth Harwell asked Byrd to step down. Speaker Casada instead ran attack ads against the victims, then promoted Byrd to chair of the education subcommittee when he was re-elected with 78% of the vote.

In the video, Kanew asks Casada if he has heard the victims’ side of the story. Casada says that he has, and that in fact he met with the victims:

“They came into my office and spoke.”

Turns out that’s news to the victims.

Christi Rice, who has been the most outspoken of the three women who have leveled the allegations at Byrd, responded to Kanew’s video on twitter saying:

Meanwhile Robbie Cain said in a message to Christi Rice obtained by The Holler that she had no idea who Casada was:

The 3rd victim has remained anonymous apart from the initial WSMV interview. Christi Rice is in contact with her and says she is “absolutely” sure she has not spoken with Speaker Casada:

The Holler has reached out to Casada’s office for comment, and so far has not heard back. We will update the story if we do.

So not only did Casada attack the victims, he also didn’t even take the time to talk to them to hear their stories- then lied about whether or not he did.

There’s nothing defensible about any of this. Since posting the original video the Holler has heard from countless women of all political stripes who have stories like this of their own.

Meanwhile a reliable source has told us they saw Channel 4’s Jeremy Finley and a crew being escorted from the building by security, after going down to Casada’s office to ask around about Byrd. And we also heard CNN is down there knocking on Byrd’s door.

If you agree we don’t need an admitted sex offender in the state legislature chairing the education subcommittee, holler at Casada and Byrd, and lend your support to Enough is Enough.

 

 

OPINION: Why She Didn’t Report

Emily Tseffos is a mom, a teacher, a volunteer and community organizer with Enough is Enough Tennessee… and a survivor. She wrote this in response to a video we posted yesterday, where Speaker Glen Casada defended his support for admitted sex offender Rep. David Byrd, who he has now made chair of an education subcommittee while attacking Byrd’s victims and questioning why they didn’t come forward sooner.

This piece, of course, is purely hypothetical, and not at all about the allegations leveled against Rep. “Coach” David Byrd by 3 of his former players.

——

Imagine this. You’re fifteen years old and live in a small town, about an hour off of Interstate 40 in southwest Tennessee. It’s literally a one-stoplight town, sprinkled with local businesses who haven’t been put out of business by the closest Walmart, about twenty minutes away.
Everyone knows everyone here – babies, weddings, death, and drama – it’s hard to sneeze without your neighbors getting word of it.
You’re a pretty good student, but the thing you look forward to most is basketball. You are GOOD. There’s talk about you playing in college, meaning you’ll get out of the town you grew up in to see more of the world than the hills and valleys you’ve memorized since you were a child.
Then one day you’re at practice and you notice something different – you catch your coach looking at you just a little longer than he probably should. You shrug it off, complete the drill, and go home. But then it happens again. And now when he’s giving you tips on your free throws he leaves a hand on your shoulder a little longer than he used to. It gives you goosebumps and you don’t move away. He’s twelve years your senior, married, with a newborn baby.
You’re probably imagining things.
Weeks later you’re at an away tournament and after you check in with your teammates your coach asks you to stop in his room to go over plays for your games tomorrow. You put on your sweats and walk to his room. You’ve got to call your mom to let her know you’ve arrived before 9:00pm because you know she’ll be going to bed after that.
You knock. He opens the door. You enter slowly, sitting on the chair near the window. He asks how you’re feeling about the game tomorrow, how your family is, if you were ready for the biology test you have in his class on Monday. “You better find some time to study,” he jokes. You laugh, a little awkwardly.
You want to talk about the plays and then go home. You’ve still got to call your mom.
“I’ve got the plays right here. Come around over by me and take a look,” he says, motioning to the bed. That bed looks big – bigger than it had when you walked in the room. You sit. Small talk continues. As he explains the second play, an up-screen for the guard that will lead to an opening at the key, he puts his hand on your knee.
Lightly. Just for a moment, but it startles you, so you look up at him. He looks at you. Just a little longer than he probably should.
“You know, I’ve been thinking about what I want. I want to see you naked,” he says, almost whispering. And he kisses you. You’re fifteen. You’ve barely kissed a boy – definitely not a man. You pull back, your mind racing. Is this happening? What do I do? Does he like me or something? He can’t! He’s my teacher, my coach – HE HAS A WIFE! I still have to call my mom.
You pull back, but he moves a little closer; his hand lingers again on your knee. “It’s okay,” he says softly, and he kisses you again. His hand moves toward your breast. Your body is still there but you feel like you’re outside of it – this can’t be happening. He’s my coach. We have a game tomorrow. He’s my coach. This can’t be happening.
It’s a tragedy that repeats over and over in your mind because while you know your life has just been changed forever, you have no idea what to do.
You go back to your room. You don’t say anything to your roommate, one of your best friends. You brush your teeth, but can’t bring yourself to look in the mirror. You get in bed and turn off the light – but you don’t sleep. What just happened between you and that grown man is running on an endless loop, and you stare at the ceiling as the hours pass.
As the season progresses, so do the advances. In the locker room, on the bus, after school. There’s even talk about going to motel nearby for some privacy. You’re fifteen. He’s twenty-eight. You want to tell someone, ANYONE – but who? If you speak up to your friends they might not believe you – and what if they tell other kids in your class? Gossip like that spreads like wildfire here. If you say something to your teachers, would they even listen?
This man is revered here. There’s no way they’d take a little girl’s word over his.
If you tell your parents… you can’t tell your parents. How could they ever forgive you?
You stay silent. You play basketball, but you don’t know how to separate what is happening off the court with his expectations on the court. It’s hard to listen to and take seriously someone for whom you’ve got no respect. Eventually it’s too much for you and whatever was happening between you ends. You’ve grown to resent this man, who he is, and what he’s made you become.
You close yourself off from friends and family, unsure of how to handle what’s happened. You’re mad, and hurt, and afraid, and confused and so you ignore it.
What happened between you is in the past and you continue to live your life, pushing those memories into the furthest part of your conscious mind so that you can grapple with the normal drama of high school without the heaviness and the loss of what happened to you.
Years pass.
You watch as this man continues to coach young girls, always wondering what might still be happening off the court but never really knowing. The high school’s gymnasium is named after him and he continues to climb in stature in the community, eventually leading to his election as a state representative. Each time you cross his path – either in person or through conversation – you become your teenaged self again. You feel nervous energy, anger, loss, grief.
But you keep silent.
But then you find out that other girls have experienced what you have. That they were fondled, groped, verbally abused, and more at the hands of a man who took advantage of little girls, preying on them over and over. And you relive it all again, but this time you feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.
How many were there? How many more lived in silence? Could I have stopped this?
And so you risk it all. You speak out over and over again, telling the truth each time. You lose friends and keep others, but most of them aren’t willing to publicly take a stand in your defense. You live in the community you grew up in, you see, and the town is taking sides. You stop getting your groceries at the store you’ve gone to for decades. You barely go to church anymore.
Your parents’ friends have all fallen away, and every time the topic is brought up they can’t help but cry. Was it worth it? Will it matter? You’ve never felt more alone than in some of these moments.
But you keep speaking and standing up, knowing that the truth needs to be shouted above all of the noise. Those in powerful positions in your community protect and defend him, not bothering to investigate any of the allegations against this man or to reach out to you directly.
It’s not so much for just you anymore, but for your community, your state.
You know that when men like the man who stole innocence from you so long ago are put in positions of power and are seemingly untouchable, it gives permission for other men to do the same to other little girls.
So you keep telling the truth in the hopes that your sacrifice gives other survivors the freedom and the courage to speak out – no matter who the abuser is.
Dedicated to survivors, especially those in rural Tennessee.

GOP Leader Ashe to Legislature: Leave Oversight Boards Alone

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Longtime Tennessee Republican leader Victor Ashe, former Mayor of Knoxville and former Ambassador to Poland under President George W. Bush, praised the work of Knoxville’s police oversight board and took a shot at the GOP-led legislature for attempts to weaken Nashville’s new oversight board.

“By a broad consensus, PARC (Police Advisory Review Council) has worked well in Knoxville and has stood the test of time. It has gone a long way to establish credibility and objectivity in disputes involving the Police Department,” wrote Ashe. “It is unfortunate that legislation to weaken it is pending, when it has been a credit to Knoxville.

Ashe wrote the comments Feb. 18 in a column for the Knoxville Shopper News, which is part of Gannett-owned daily Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Nashville voters overwhelmingly voted to support creation of a Citizens Oversight Board (COB) in the November election, but Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) has filed a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly to take subpoena power from the COB, legislation Governor Bill Lee has expressed support for. Curcio says his bill, co-sponsored by House heavyweights including Speaker Glen Casada and Majority Leader William Lamberth, has nothing to do with Nashville.

Ashe created PARC by executive order in 1998 and Knoxville City Council later ratified the commission. He pointed out every police chief has supported PARC since it was created.

Knoxville City Council approved a resolution Feb. opposing Curcio’s bill, as it would also strip subpoena power from PARC.

Ashe was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1968 and served through 1974. He was a state senator from Knoxville 1975-1984 and was elected Knoxville mayor in 1987 and served for 16 years.

VIDEO: Kanew Confronts Casada About Promoting Admitted Sex Offender Rep. Byrd

In a 2018 report, 3 women publicly alleged Tennessee State Representative David Byrd (Wayne, Lewis, Hardin, Lawrence counties) had sexually molested them when he was their women’s basketball coach at Wayne County High School.

The report included a recording of Byrd apologizing for it, expressing remorse, and saying he had been praying for forgiveness for it every Sunday.

Most reacted with disgust. Even members of Byrd’s own Republican party, including now-Senator Marsha Blackburn and then-Speaker Beth Harwell. Harwell even asked Byrd to step down.

Byrd refused. He ran for office again in 2018, and won in a landslide with 78% of the vote.

Newly-elected Speaker Glen Casada then promptly promoted him to chair of an Education Subcommittee, of all things.

You truly cannot make this stuff up.

Since Casada’s decision, very little has been made of Byrd’s continued presence in the legislature. A group called “Enough is Enough” has done all they can, showing up at big events like Governor Lee’s swearing in to remind Lee and Casada they’re watching, and supporting one of the victims – Christi Rice – at the Women’s March. But fellow legislators have been silent, and the media has stopped covering the matter.

Nobody has pinned Casada down for his decision – until now.

Recently, former congressional candidate Justin Kanew went to a town hall in Franklin where Speaker Casada was appearing with other members of the Williamson County delegation, and confronted Casada about his decision not only to ignore Byrd’s transgressions, but to run attack ads against the victims and elevate Byrd to chair of an education subcommittee.

Here’s the 6 minute video:

In the video Casada makes it clear he doesn’t believe Byrd did it despite his obvious admission of guilt, and even goes so far as to say if HE had been raped he would’ve come forward long before now.

As if he can possibly know what it would be like to be a young teenage girl in Wayne County who is being sexually molested by her basketball coach.

The entire situation is appalling. If you agree, please SHARE this video on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, and holler at Casada and especially Byrd and tell them you want this admitted sex offender removed from our legislature.

INTERVIEW: TN-32 State Senate Candidate Eric Coleman

TN-32 State Senate candidate Eric Coleman talks to former TN-7 congressional candidate Justin Kanew on Facebook live. Here’s the full interview.

In the Highlights below Coleman weighs in on:

Medicaid Expansion (“Flubbed”)
The Community Oversight Board (“No one should be above the law”)
Medical Marijuana (“Absolutely”)
School Vouchers (“Fail”)

SORRY, FORT CAMPBELL KIDS: Rep. Green Supports Taking Wall $$ From Fort Middle School

We’ve all heard by now that President Trump has declared a “National Emergency” at the border as an end-run around congress to get money for his Wall.

As we mentioned this weekend, Senator Lamar Alexander spoke out against the move calling it “Unconstitutional”, while the rest of the Republican Tennessee delegation has been supportive despite fancying themselves *strict constitutionalists* in favor of *limited government*.

That group includes Rep. Mark Green of TN-7, an army veteran who lives just outside of Clarksville in Ashland City.

What we’re now learning is that included in the list of 400+ projects the president would be steering funds away from to build the wall is “the operation of a middle school at Fort Campbell”, which would likely be unwelcome news to our brave men and women up in Clarksville, where half the base is located.

The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle has already made note of this, asking Green for his position on it just yesterday. Green had this to say:

“I support it because I believe it’s a crisis. My biggest concern is the narcotics. I think it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s certainly within his legal rights. I think very clearly people want the legislative branch doing legislative stuff, and the executive branch doing executive branch stuff. But the legislative branch has given authority to the executive branch in those certain circumstances where emergencies require action that Congress can’t be quick enough to respond to.”

Reading betweens the line of this “stuff”, Green has tried to make the case that this emergency declaration by Trump is not unprecedented since there have been 58 emergency declarations by presidents in the past – but not one of those has involved a president going around congress to get money for a campaign promise.

As for why the “emergency” is suddenly an emergency now when it didn’t seem to be for the first 2 years of the Trump presidency, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer.

Green added:

“This is all within the power that’s been granted to the president.”

That will be for the courts to decide. Lawsuits have been filed, and they will likely cite the president saying “I didn’t have to do this” in the very press conference where he made the announcement as evidence for why this emergency is not actually an emergency at all.

More from Green:

“He made a promise to the American people. I think he’s just doing what he thinks he was elected to do.”

Green on the other hand was elected to look out for the interests of Clarksville, a military-heavy district, and it will be up to the residents and the soldiers there to decide how they feel about his decision to prioritize a wall on the Southern border over a school in their own backyard.

Incredibly, when asked about this, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina actually said the kids will be better off not getting the money:

“I would say it’s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border. We’ll get them the school they need. Right now we’ve got a national emergency on our hands.”

It seems Rep. Mark Green agrees. We wonder if the parents up in the Clarksville area do too.

It’s funny how the people who are the loudest about their undying support for The Constitution seem to forget what it says when it gets in the way of the things they want.

Holler at Rep. Green HERE if you’re in Clarksville and have any thoughts.

In the meantime, enjoy a fun cartoon from Modman, showing that there really is nothing this president does that Mark Green won’t support:

 

OPINION: ROWE TO REP. ROE – “You’ve let your country down.”

This column is the opinion of Chris Rowe, 2020 candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Follow Chris on Twitter here

Friday, we saw our president appear on national television and declare a state of emergency for an artificial border crisis. At the same time, he admitted that not only was it unnecessary, but that he knew it was an abuse of his power.

He asked the supreme court to support his decision anyway.

Many members of congress, regardless of their party affiliation – including our own Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander – saw this for the blatant “unconstitutional” act it was and decided not to back him.

Rep. Phil Roe on the other hand, in a move that added to a string of questionable decisions recently, has come out in support of the president’s illegal power play.

This is not a decision that should be taken lightly by Tennessee’s voters. We need to hold him accountable for his actions, particularly as a member of the party that purports itself to be in favor of the “Rule of Law.”

Therefore, Congressman Roe, I have an important issue to address: If law is to rule, then the onus falls to you to take the president to task for this action, and publicly rebuke it. We cannot simultaneously advocate for “law and order” while condoning the highest office in the land making a mockery of the same.

You’ve already supported multiple unconscionable actions by our president, including holding hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans hostage for an unnecessary wall. But declaring an unconstitutional “state of emergency” that will divert funds from actual emergencies and cost American lives should be a firm red line for anyone.

Many members of your party have already seen this for what it is, so I ask you now: can you somehow not see for yourself how damaging this is to our union? Or are you simply too afraid to stand up and fight for what’s right just because it may cost you a handful of votes?

Whichever it is, you’ve let your constituency down, you’ve let your country down, and it’s time to step up or move aside and let someone else show you how it’s done.

It’s this type of abdication of your responsibility to protect and uphold the Constitution which has directly led to my challenge for your seat, and I intend to be certain that voters remember your failure to serve them come election time.

Chris Rowe is a Democratic Candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Chris is a 6 year veteran of the Air Force, and a current graduate student at East Tennessee State University. 

Chris has decided to take money only from real people and small businesses, not from large corporations or super PACs, to ensure he remains free of any obligation to “big” anyone.

Holler at Rep. Roe HERE, and donate to Chris HERE.

Reps Green/Roe/Rose/Fleischmann Support “NATIONAL EMERGENCY”, Lamar Calls It “UNCONSTITUTIONAL”

In a rambling press conference yesterday President Trump declared that he would be signing the bipartisan border security compromise, but that he would also be declaring a “National Emergency” to be able to steer funds away from other departments towards the Wall he wants so badly.

The Wall Mexico was supposed to pay for.

In his speech he openly admitted he “doesn’t need to do it”, which begs the question of what he thinks an “emergency” is, exactly.

Lawsuits have already started over this executive overreach, and it seems likely they will all site that sentence as exhibit A that the president doesn’t even believe his own tale on this topic.

The reactions from the Tennessee delegation were mostly to be expected. Rep. Mark Green was quick to declare his support.

Green cited the National Emergencies declared by previous presidents as evidence that this was not actually the departure from constitutional norms critics were making it out to be. What Green either didn’t realize, or failed to mention, was that none of the previous emergencies involved a president trying to make an end run around congress to raid the treasury to deliver on a campaign promise.

Green isn’t the only Tennessee Republican who has touted his undying “support for the constitution” and “limited government”, who seems to have conveniently abandoned those ideals in this moment. Reps Phil Roe and Chuck Fleischmann also rushed to support the move, as did Rep. John Rose.

Senator Lamar Alexander was the only Tennessee Republican who seemed to have a problem with it, calling it “Unnecessary”, “Unwise”, and “Unconstitutional.”

It seems safe to assume Lamar realizes a Democratic President would surely turn around and use the power for actual emergencies like gun violence, health care, and climate change, and Senator Alexander clearly doesn’t want that to happen.

Democratic Rep. Cohen was on the other side of the fence, questioning the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell and the Republicans who spent all 8 Obama years bemoaning executive overreach.


Checks and balances exist for a reason. The hypocrisy on display here is truly remarkable. If you agree this declaration is nothing short of an abuse of power, holler at your reps.