NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Federal agents are reviewing documents taken from the home and offices of multiple Tennessee lawmakers on Friday morning, but the cause of the raids remains a mystery.
Federal investigators were spotted holding boxes and walking out of Former House Speaker Glen Casada’s home.
On Friday morning, federal authorities also raided Casada's and State Rep. Robin Smith, Kent Calfee, and Todd Warner's offices inside the Cordell Hull building, which houses offices for the state legislature. Warner's business was also raided.
“I think this day is a sad day for Tennessee and the general assembly," Current Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton said.
In a statement on Friday, Sexton said he was "contacted by federal authorities regarding an ongoing investigation related to the former speaker’s office."
"I have been, and I will continue to be in full cooperation with the authorities as their investigation continues. On the advice of both Ethics and Legal Counsel, I am placing everyone that was subject to the execution of today’s search warrants on administrative leave until further notice," Sexton said in a statement on Friday.
Sources tell News 4 FBI agents are raiding the offices of Republican lawmakers this morning in the Cordell Hull building (where we are). That includes the office of Former House Speaker Glen Casada. @WSMV pic.twitter.com/NWgWOUEfbx— Marissa Sulek (@marissa_sulek) January 8, 2021
Following the raids, three legislative employees were placed on paid administrative leave, according to Connie Ridley, who is the Legislative Administration Director for the General Assembly.
- Holt Whitt, the interim Chief of Staff to Speaker Cameron Sexton
- Nadine Korby, legislative assistant to Kent Calfee
- Carol Simpson, legislative assistant to Glen Casada
"As employees they had search warrants which does not imply guilt or innocence or anything of that nature. Since they are part of an active investigation," Sexton said during a news conference on Friday morning.
Ridley said the state lawmakers involved in the investigation cannot be put on administrative leave because they were elected to their positions.
“Personally these are friends and colleagues that we’ve worked with for many years," Sexton said. “It’s never a win when any of our colleagues on an investigation or put in a spotlight of any federal investigation. There’s no win for anybody in this situation because we are here to do the peoples work.”
Attorney Ty Howard is representing Whit and acknowledged his client was "contacted by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding an ongoing investigation."
"Mr. Whitt is a well-respected legislative aide with an impeccable reputation, and he has not been charged with any wrongdoing. He is cooperating fully with the investigation. Out of respect for the legal process, Mr. Whitt will have no further public comment regarding this matter," Howard said in a statement on Friday.
Casada was the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives from January through August 2019. He resigned amid a scandal involving racist and sexist text messages as well as additional allegations of misconduct.
Speaking during a coronavirus press briefing Friday morning, Governor Bill Lee said he was made aware of the FBI raids but knows very little.
“I was not aware until this morning when I was woken up by 18 text messages," Democratic Congress Chair Vincent Dixie said.
Dixie said it is an unfamiliar scene to see FBI agents leaving with boxes of papers.
“The shock of it all and the suddenness of it, especially with everything that is going on right now," Dixie said.
News4 has crews at several of the raid locations on Friday morning. Continue to follow News4 for updates.