New Casada chief of staff brings history of controversy

Politics
Tennessee Capitol_35955-842162552

Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada’s new chief of staff may come with his own problems.

Scott Gilmer was named as Casada’s new chief a day after embattled former-chief Cade Cothren stepped down.

Cothren resigned amid allegations he sent racist and sexually explicit text messages. He admitted to using cocaine in his legislative office years before.

Allegations of misbehavior by Gilmer goes back to 2008.

Website Controversy

In 2008, then Tenn. State Rep. Nathan Vaughn (D-KINGSPORT), was running for re-election.

During that time, several websites, including nathanvaughn.com, nathanvaughn.net, and nathanvaughn.org were registered through GoDaddy.com as websites belonging to the Vaughn campaign.

In September 2008, a civil lawsuit was filed by Vaughn against defendants including Gilmer and Andrew Smith. The lawsuit says the sites “are used for the commercial benefit to the Defendants, and others; they are defamatory; and, they place the Plaintiff in a false light, all with the intent of harming the reputation and business of the Plaintiff, and without permission of the Plaintiff.”

Vaughn dropped the lawsuit in February 2009.

According to the News Channel 11 archives, Gilmer faced criminal charges related to the websites. The archived story refers to Gilmer as a “Republican staffer in the Tennessee House.” In March 2009, he pleaded no contest to the charge. He was fined $50.

Allegations of workplace abuse

Seven years later, Gilmer was once again in the spotlight, this time in connection to then-Speaker Beth Harwell.

State Representative Billy Spivey (R-LEWISBURG) said he received a report from a concerned staffer at Legislative Plaza describing “mental and emotional abuse of an extended period of time.”

The report named several people, including Harwell and Gilmer, who was her chief of staff.

Harwell released a statement at the time:

It is no secret that Representative Spivey is a long-time defender of Jeremy Durham’s and is upset about his expulsion at the special session, which Rep. Spivey failed to attend. Rep. Spivey did not want the Attorney General’s report on Durham released to the public and would not sign off on the report. Just as Durham lashed out last week at those who expelled him, his supporters, including Rep. Spivey, are doing the same this week.It is irresponsible for Rep. Spivey to involve himself in something without verifying the facts and in harassing our employees by releasing an inaccurate compilation of events. It is disrespectful for him to attempt to play political football with our state employees and their jobs, all because he personally disagreed with Jeremy Durham’s expulsion. I take all allegations of harassment seriously. Personnel issues are always handled by Legislative Administration in a professional manner, and they seek to reach a satisfactory conclusion for all parties. Our legislative staff does an outstanding job for every one of our members, and I sincerely appreciate the work they do.”

News Channel 11 left messages for Casada’s office and emailed Gilmer. As of Tuesday evening, there has been no response.

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