Cothren, Casada fast on their feet, facing accountability from reporters

Jeremy Finley reports how Glen Casada and Cade Cothren have been dodging accountability since 2019.
Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 7:22 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - It was May 21, 2019, and WSMV4 reporter Carley Gordon was trying to speak with former Speaker of the House, Glen Casada, at his home in Williamson County.

That’s when a WSMV4 photojournalist captured Casada sneaking out the back door, running to his car as Gordon hurried after him, asking if he would explain why he’d stepped down from his speaker position.

Instead, Casada immediately got into an SUV and rode away.

The incident is like a micro to a macro of how Casada, and his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, have deflected, blocked, and, at one point, called a state trooper to remove media that were trying to hold lawmakers accountable.

Before Casada stepped down as Speaker, WSMV4 Investigates caught up earlier in May 2019, asking if he intended to resign following a scandal in which he and Cothren exchanged crude text messages about women.

Casada didn’t respond and walked away from our camera, but we kept asking questions as he walked downstairs to his office.

“There are a lot of lawmakers calling for your resignation - how do you respond to that?” asked WSMV4 Investigates.

“I’ve got one statement. I apologize for the two texts I sent. They were wrong. And I was wrong. But I’ve asked for forgiveness and received forgiveness. My chief (Cothren) has resigned, and those problems have been dealt with.”

WSMV4 Investigates then asked about another brewing scandal, of how he was accused of offering bribes to pass the Governor’s school voucher bill.

“Did you bribe anyone for the voucher vote?” asked WSMV4 Investigates.

“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Casada said.

WSMV4 and other media tried to ask more questions, but Casada ultimately passed through security, and reporters were not allowed to follow.

But before Cothren resigned that year in the wake of those texts, he was the first line of defense to Republican lawmakers facing scrutiny.

Including in February of 2019.

That’s when WSMV4 Investigates found State Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, in his office.

We’d come to Byrd’s office to ask him again about our investigation, which found three women accused him of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers, and he was their basketball coach.

As soon as we saw Byrd in his office, the door was closed, and we sat down, waiting for him to leave.

That’s when Cothren arrived.

After explaining that we were waiting to speak with Byrd, Cothren was contented that our questions had already been addressed.

“We have answered every question that you’ve asked,” Cothren told.

But that wasn’t true, as neither Byrd, Cothern, or Casada had answered the question of what Byrd meant when he apologized to one of the accusing women on the phone.

When we pointed that out, we also pointed to the door.

“He’s right there,” WSMV4 Investigates said.

“He’s not available,” Cothren said.

“But he’s right there,” WSMV4 Investigates said.

“He’s not available,” Cothren repeated.

That’s when Cothren, acting on behalf of Casada, sent a state trooper to remove WSMV4 from Byrd’s office.