NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee Representative Glen Casada announced Tuesday he will resign as House Speaker amid widespread criticism after his former chief of staff allegedly sent racist and sexist text messages three years ago.
When I return to town on June 3, I will meet with Caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as Speaker so that I can help facilitate a smooth transition.”
Rep. Casada had been under scrutiny since his former chief of staff Cade Cothren resigned after allegedly sending racist and sexist text messages and admitting to drug use in a legislative office building.
Casada admitted to responding to two of the texts.
He has also been criticized for trying to influence a House Ethics Committee report on his handling of Cothren’s resignation earlier this month but denied any meddling.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said Rep. Casada made the right decision to resign.
Speaker Casada has made the right decision, and I look forward to working with the legislature to get back to conducting the people’s business and focusing on the issues that matter most to our state.
Lieutenant Govenor Randy McNally released a statement on Casada’s planned resignation, which reads:
“Speaker Casada announcing his intent to resign is the right decision for the legislature, the @TNGOP and the state. I commend him for it. Now we move forward. I am committed to working with leadership in the House to help restore the trust that has been lost in any way I can.”
During a radio interview on SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Casada said he was embarrassed that he responded to his former top aide, Cade Cothren’s texts, three years ago with a few lewd words of his own.
“I participated in some ‘locker room talk’ if you will, amongst two adult men. I’m not proud of that. I’m embarrassed about that,” Casada said.
The Tennessee House Republican Caucus voted 45-24 Monday for a “no confidence” resolution for House Speaker Glen Casada. Gov. Bill Lee echoed the sentiment Monday when he tweeted he was prepared to call a special legislative session if Casada did not resign as House Speaker.
Gov. Lee released a statement after the House Caucus held a “no confidence” vote Monday.
“Today House Republicans sent a clear message, and I’m prepared to call a special session if the Speaker doesn’t resign.”
Caucus Chairman Rep. Cameron Sexton said while the resolution speaks volumes about how the caucus feels about Speaker Casada, the resolution is non-binding, which means Casada will remain speaker.
“The speaker is elected by the general assembly, not by the Republican Caucus. Anything that the caucus did would be non-binding as far as the speaker remaining speaker,” said Sexton.
House Majority Leader Rep. William Lamberth said Casada was present during the meeting and answered questions from the Caucus.
Lamberth said that before Casada left, the speaker said the vote “definitely gave him something to consider” and “that over the next few months he would try everything he could to regain their confidence.”
“I think what changed today is that you now know how a majority of the members of the Republican Caucus feel about the allegations that have been made,” said Lamberth.
Speaker Casada released a statement after the vote:
“I’m disappointed in the results of today’s caucus vote. However, I will work the next few months to regain the confidence of my colleagues so we can continue to build on the historic conservative accomplishments of this legislative session.”
The Tennessee Republican Party released a statement and called on Casada to resign.
“The events and actions surrounding Speaker Casada have been a distraction from the great accomplishments of this Legislature and Governor Bill Lee. Our Republican leadership in the legislature took the right course of action by calling today’s meeting. The vote of no confidence by the Republican caucus sends a clear message; it is time for the Speaker to heed the advice of the majority of his fellow legislators and step down from his position of leadership and allow someone else to begin the process of restoring the trust of all Tennesseans.”
Rep. Lamberth released his own statement calling for a resignation:
“Today the House Republican Caucus met and sent a strong message that we have lost confidence in Speaker Glen Casada. I have waited until now to make a statement on my personal position on this matter to allow the Caucus time to meet and deliberate. After today’s vote, it is time for the Speaker to resign, and I hereby request Governor Lee call a special session by the end of June for the House to choose a new Speaker. “
The meeting took three hours and all caucus members were required to leave their cell phones in the back of the room.
Before Rep. Casada announced his pending resignation, most constitutional observers believed there is no provision to remove the speaker until his two-year term is up in 2021.
This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and refresh this page for updates.