NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Federal agents searched the offices and homes of several Republican Tennessee lawmakers Friday morning, a move that led three legislative staff members to be placed on paid administrative leave.
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation were at the Cordell Hull building in downtown Nashville, where they were seen searching the office of former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada. The legislative offices of representatives Kent Calfee, Robin Smith and Todd Warner were also searched.
During a news briefing Friday morning, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton said Calfee himself was not part of the investigation; however, Calfee’s assistant, Nadine Korby was one of three legislative staff members placed on paid leave following the raids, according to the legislative administration director for the General Assembly.
The director said Carol Simpson, who works as Casada’s assistant, and Holt Whitt, the interim chief of staff for Speaker Sexton, were the other two placed on paid administrative leave.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of Middle Tennessee said the private residences of Casada, Smith and Warner were also searched, along with the home of Casada’s former chief of staff, Cade Cothren.
Casada resigned from his leadership role in 2019, months after Cothren left his job as chief of staff, amid a scandal involving racist and sexist text messages.
“I’ve spoken with Speaker Sexton this morning and I’m aware of the FBI raids,” Governor Bill Lee said when asked about the situation during an unrelated news briefing. “It’s certainly very concerning. I know very little about that. There’s been no FBI outreach to us, but I have confidence that Speaker Sexton’s on top of the situation and we’ll learn more as this unfolds.”
Sexton released the following statement just before 11 a.m. Friday:
“Since becoming Speaker, I have been 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.”
Speaker Sexton held a news briefing around 11:30 a.m. You can watch the full press conference below.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of Middle Tennessee and the FBI have not released any further information about the nature of the searches.