Tennessee Black Caucus asks DOJ to investigate Casada’s office

Tennessee State flag at the Capitol
Tennessee State flag at the Capitol(Action News 5)
Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 4:01 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - In a pair of letters finalized and delivered Friday, May 10, 2019 the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators (TBCSL) requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate House Speaker Glen Casada’soffice.

In the first letter sent to Eric S. Dreiband, the AssistantAttorney General for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the TBCSL requested a ”full criminal investigation” into allegations that Casada’s office altered an email from a student activist, making it appear as though that activist was in violation of a court order that banned him from entering the Capitol or contacting the Speaker.

The activist, Justin Jones, was banned from the Capitol after several run-ins with the Speaker, including tossing a drink at him in an elevator.

Casada’s former Chief of Staff, Cade Cothren, accused Jones of violating that court order by emailing Cothren on March 1, 2019, and asking for a meeting with the Speaker. However, Jones provided records showing the email was sent on February 25, 2019, before the ban was instituted. Jones then suggested that Cothren altered the email, so it looked like Jones was violating the ban.

”If the alteration of said email had not been discovered, it would have resulted in the arrest of Mr. Jones,” TBCSL’s letter read.

The Black Caucus accuses Cothren of breaking four laws under U.S. Code:

18 U.S.C. 241 - a conspiracy to injure someone in the exercise of their constitutional rights18 U.S.C. 242 - acting under color of law to deprive anyone of their constitutional rights, including the right not to be deprived of liberty without due process.42 U.S.C. 1983 – depriving under color of law someone’s constitutional rights42 U.S.C. 1985 – conspiracy to deprive someone of their right as citizens of the United States

The TBCSL’s second letter to the DOJ references the “racist and misogynistic” messages shared by Casada and Cothren.

”In light of a pattern and practice of a hostile work environment in theHouse of Representatives, evidenced by the record of official reactions toRep. Jeremy Durham and Rep. David Byrd and House Chief of Staff CadeCothren, etc., the TBCSL is requesting that the Employment Section of theU.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division investigate possible violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” the letter says.