Tennessee speaker of house calls lewd texts ‘locker room talk’

Cothern (L) and Casada (R) (Source: WMC Action News 5 via WSMV)
Cothern (L) and Casada (R) (Source: WMC Action News 5 via WSMV)(WMC Action News 5 via WSMV)
Updated: May. 7, 2019 at 5:05 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Days after the legislative session came to a close scandal is rocking the halls of the state Capitol in Nashville.

Some lawmakers are calling for House Speaker Glen Casada to step down and are pushing for a TBI investigation after texts between him and some of his staffers emerged.

Speaker Casada said he wasn't leaving his leadership post – calling lewd text conversations that surfaced "locker room talk."

Casada's Chief of Staff Cade Cothren resigned Monday in the wake of the alleged racist and lewd texts regarding women, and admitted cocaine use in his legislative office.

"I'm sorry that I did it, and I'm embarrassed I did it, but it's not going to happen again," Speaker Casada said to WTN-FM in Nashville.

He says the 2016 conversation in question was among himself, his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, and a third person who Casada described as a disgruntled former employee who vowed revenge.

"I participated in locker room talk with two adult men that was not intended to go to anyone else, and I was wrong," he said.

The Tennessean in Nashville reported the texts on Monday. They include references to pole dancing, and Cothren recounting having sex with a woman in the bathroom of a Nashville restaurant.

Cothren resigned Monday amid other texts revealed in the paper that included sexual advances toward interns and lobbyists.

Cothren was previously implicated in a report last week by Nashville television station WTVF alleging he’d provided falsified evidence to get an activist arrested, and had sent racist texts.

"Sexism and racism are kinfolk. They're sister and brother. They came from the same parents. Ignorance and arrogance," said Representative G.A. Hardaway.

Hardaway chairs the legislature's Black Caucus.

Tuesday the group of lawmakers called for the TBI to step in and investigate the potential falsified evidence.

Nashville representative Vincent Dixie said in the wake of all the revelations, Glen Casada should be stripped of his speakership.

"We need changes at the top. This has been an outrage," he said.

WMC Action News 5 political analyst Michael Nelson says Casada's spot is likely in jeopardy.

“I don’t know how you stay in a position of leadership without having to do a whole lot more explaining about that,” Nelson said.

Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) made the statement below following news reports regarding the Office of the House Speaker:

“Senate leadership and I are greatly disappointed by the inappropriate actions and attitudes revealed in recent news reports. Every person who interacts with the state legislature should be treated with the utmost respect. It is deeply troubling that some have fallen short of this standard. Tennesseans expect and deserve better from those who serve the public trust. Senate leadership is united in our commitment that members and staff continue to uphold the standard Tennesseans demand of their public officials.”

Womens’ advocates say the lack of other leaders calling for Casada to step down is yet another troubling example of legislative impropriety and mistreatment of women among state lawmakers.

“It makes me just despair because it is 2019,” Executive Director of the Memphis Area Women’s Council Deborah Clubb said.

She says she was stunned to learn of the latest scandal in Nashville.

“What’s been revealed is what’s always been there,” she said. “I think it’s been the way of business in the capital for a very long time."

The TBI says they are in contact with the state’s District Attorneys General Conference to determine appropriate actions.

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