Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada is resigning after it was revealed earlier this month that Casada and his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, exchanged racist and sexually explicit text messages about women. Casada has only been House speaker for a few months.
In one of the text message exchanges, Casada and Cothren were talking about how old two women were and if they were 21, according to a WTVF-TV report.
According to the report, Cothren responded that “it only takes 18.” Casada answered “Lol!!! And true!”
Cothren already stepped down after he admitted that he used cocaine in his legislative office and may have tampered with evidence in a young Black activist’s criminal case. A special prosecutor is still investigating that.
Cothren was also accused of spying on other legislative members and that he tried to “rig and predetermine” an ethics review of his work.
Casada tried to fight his removal but the Republican caucus held a vote of no confidence after the text message scandal hit the local media. Even Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said he would call a special legislative session if Casada didn’t leave of his own volition.
This is the first time since 1931 that a speaker resigned from the Tennessee Senate.
Unfortunately, this type of scandal is nothing that the majority Republican, majority white and majority male Tennessee legislature haven’t had to deal with before.
Three years ago former Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham was expelled after being accused multiple times of sexual harassment. Then two years later Republican Rep. David Byrd was accused of inappropriately touching girls when he was a high school basketball coach – he was reelected and never denied the allegations.
The House has been accused of perpetuating an unhealthy culture and work environment for women and people of color. Lawmakers have refused to remove a statue of an early Ku Klux Klan leader from the Capitol lobby.
The lawmakers also went after advocacy groups trying to register more black voters during the 2018 election. Republicans in the House passed a bill that will fine and even jail voter registration workers who don’t follow new rules.