By ALEXANDER WILLIS
State Legislator Glen Casada, who represents parts of Williamson County and acts as speaker of the House, has issued a statement amidst an ongoing scandal that led to the resignation of his former Chief of Staff, Cade Cothren on Monday.
In a report by the Tennessean published Monday, Cothren was revealed through leaked text messages to have sent sexually explicit messages to and about interns, used racially derogatory remarks such as the n-word, as well as to have used cocaine in the state legislative offices, something Cothren issued a statement on that same day. Casada was also found to be engaging with some of the revealed text messages with Cothren.
Casada’s statement reads as follows:
“I take complete ownership over the text messages with inappropriate comments about women that I exchanged with my former Chief of Staff and another individual several years ago. It’s embarrassing and humbling to have it displayed in this manner. I apologize and hope that my friends, family, colleagues, and constituents find a way to forgive me for it because it is not the person I am and it hasn’t been the way I have conducted myself as Speaker.”
“I’d also like to take the time to express my sincere disappointment for the myriad of other messages between my former Chief of Staff and another individual that have surfaced which included racial slurs, drug use, and various other inappropriate comments. I condemn them in their entirety and I do not tolerate that type of behavior as an elected official or as a human being.”
“Moving forward, I have put together an action plan to be executed by members of my staff, members of the House Ethics Committee, and the joint legislative offices that seeks to provide clarity to what has transpired, as well as ensure that I am doing everything within my power to prevent future missteps. I look forward to executing this plan as I work towards establishing trust where it has been broken and ensuring that the House is more ready than ever to conduct the people’s business.”
This recent scandal, coupled with some past incidents such as his vocal support for another State Legislator David Byrd, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a 15 year-old girl in 1975, have lead many to call for Casada’s resignation.
“This is a pattern with him, this is not a one-off occurrence,” said Holly McCall, former chair for the Democratic Party of Williamson County. “He supported former State Representative Jeremy Durham after the attorney general had removed him from the legislative office building because he said he presented ‘a danger to women,’ and speaker Casada continued to support him. He continued to support Cade Cothren after these texts started coming out, and accused the most influential investigative reporter in the state of lying, and now he’s appointed a chief of staff who also has a history of racist acts.”
“If it’s one person, maybe it’s a lapse in character. If you continue to surround yourself with these people, you either have absolutely no judgement, or it tells people who you are.”
Former congressional candidate in Williamson County, Justin Kanew, was also highly critical of Casada, as well as his new appointment for his chief of staff, Scott Gilmer. In 2009, Gilmer entered a plea of no contest to a misdemeanor criminal charge after allegedly creating a fake social media profile for Nathan Vaughn, a former Democratic state legislator, casting him as a Union sympathizer.
“You would think that after what’s gone on with Casada’s chief of staff and the deeply racist text messages that Casada tried to cover for, he could find somebody to take that job that doesn’t also have a checkered past when it comes to racial issues,” Kanew said. “That should have been his number one priority, so he has already shown us that he is just not equipped to handle this position, again.”
“Bill Lee is not being a leader either by staying almost entirely silent about this whole thing. If you’re the governor, you’re somebody that is supposed to be a leader. If all you’re thinking about is your political loyalties when issues like this come up – that’s not leadership.”
“I would be saying exactly the same things if these were Democrats. If a Democrat was doing the things that Casada has been doing, and if we had a Democrat governor in office, I would be calling on the Democrat speaker to resign, and I would be calling on the Democrat governor to speak out exactly as I am with the Republican leadership.”