Embattled House Speaker refutes claim he traded favors to pass school voucher bill

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Embattled Tennessee lawmaker Glen Casada released a statement Sunday refuting an upcoming report that may accuse him of more wrongdoings while in office.

As Casada’s statement suggests, the report implies that his office promised certain lawmakers infrastructure projects in their districts if they changed their votes on a key education bill that passed in the last legislative session.

“Legislators have interests they must consider on every vote. That is the job of representing a district of diverse constituencies,” Casada wrote. “To suggest, however, the Office of the Speaker has any authority to trade infrastructure projects for votes is false.”

The school voucher bill, championed by Gov. Bill Lee, provides some students thousands of dollars in grants to attend the private school of their choice.

There was already a lot of controversy surrounding the passage of the bill.

Casada employed an uncommon tactic to get the bill passed, deciding to leave the vote open so that members could change their votes when it was tied 49-49.

High drama in the Tennessee house today as Governor Bill lee’s much-changed ESA or “school voucher” bill barely passed after some extremely rare procedural moves.

That day, House Democrats also accused Casada of blocking the exits to the chamber to maintain a quorum until the bill eventually passed.

The statement released Sunday is the first thing Casada has said on the record since May. That’s when he announced his plan to retire on August 2 following his involvement in a texting scandal involving his former chief of staff Cade Cothren.

The lawmaker and his former aid admitted to sending racist and sexist text messages to each other. Cothren was also accused of doctoring emails that resulted in a frequent protester getting banned from the state capitol building.

The chief of staff for Republican House Speaker Glen Casada, Cade Cothren, has verbally resigned after text messages came to light. 

Casada’s statement also comes just a few days before Republicans plan to choose their nominee to replace Casada as House speaker in a caucus meeting set for Wednesday morning.

Casada’s full statement:

This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 on-air and online for updates.

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