NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada issued a statement on Wednesday taking “complete ownership” of his inappropriate text messages about women exchanged with his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren and expressing “my sincere disappointment” for the messages Cothren sent to another person that included racial slurs, drug use and other inappropriate comments.
Tennessee Democrats are calling for a federal investigation after hearing that House Speaker Glen Casada’s staff may have been listening to and watching meetings they thought were private.
Casada, R-Franklin, also put together an action plan to ensure “that I am doing everything in my power to prevent future missteps.”
House Speaker Glen Casada and his Chief of Staff Cade Cothren have responded with a joint statement explaining racist text messages sent between Cothren and a former employee.
Cothren resigned as Casada’s Chief of Staff on Monday after messages surfaced.
Casada’s office has met with the Black Caucus and Casada plans to meet with them to express his apologies for Cothren’s racist texts.
Casada’s statement read:
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.
The action plan laid out by Casada includes:
- Speaker Casada has written today to the TBI and to the District Attorney Generals’ Conference asking them to investigate, as expeditiously as possible, the email from Mr. Justin Jones that was forwarded by former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren to the District Attorney’s office. The TBI and the District Attorney will have the full cooperation of the Speaker’s office, the House of Representatives, and Legislative Information Services. Although we are confident that the email was not forged, an independent investigation is welcomed.
- The House Ethics Committee has been asked by Speaker Casada to meet to review the termination of former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren. In addition, the committee with the assistance of Connie Ridley, Director of Legislative Administration, is being asked to review our personnel policies and to investigate the possibility of drug testing for new employees. They will look at the implications of implementing this policy. In addition, the Ethics Committee will be consulting with members and staff on how we can improve our policies and training for members and staff regarding our policies.
- The Speaker’s office along with Legislative Administration is reviewing our current operations for any existing violations of the legislature’s personnel policies. If any violations are found, they will be addressed immediately.
- The Speaker’s office met with the Black Caucus, and Speaker Casada is in the process of scheduling a meeting with them to express his apologies for the racist texts sent by former Chief of Staff, Cade Cothren. The Black Caucus will be working with the Speaker’s office and other members and staff to create appropriate diversity training for members and staff.