NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - In a pair of letters finalized and delivered Friday, May 10, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators (TBCSL) requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate House Speaker Glen Casada's office.
In the first letter, sent to Eric S. Dreiband, the Assistant Attorney 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 and asking for a meeting with the Speaker. However, Jones provided records showing the email was sent February 25, 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 rights
- 18 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 rights
- 42 U.S.C. 1985 – conspiracy to deprive someone of their right as a citizens of the United States
Cothren resigned from his post May 6.
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 the House of Representatives, evidenced by the record of official reactions to Rep. Jeremy Durham and Rep. David Byrd and House Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, etc., the TBCSL is requesting that the Employment Section of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division investigate possible violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act," the letter says.