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Governor Lee responds to Speaker's controversy, FBI investigation

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Posted at 9:07 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-11 18:19:23-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Gov. Bill Lee weighed in on the ongoing controversy regarding House Speaker Glen Casada and the FBI's investigation into the controversial school voucher vote.

A reporter asked, "If Glen Casada were a member of your administration or an executive of your company would you call for him to step down, would you ask him to resign?"

Lee responded, "I would."

Both Democrats and Republicans have called for the House Speaker to resign after he admitted to lying about racist and vulgar text messages with his former chief of staff. During an interview Thursday night, Gov. Lee spoke to the standards and culture of what leadership in Tennessee should look like.

"I think some of the events that have come to light in the last several days are not consistent with that, and if an employee in my administration and if an employee in my administration acted in away that wasn't consistent with that then they wouldn't be in my administration," said Gov. Lee.

But he says it's up to House members to decide if they will remove Casada. That would only happen if a special session is called by Lee, or a two-thirds majority petition by House members.

On Thrusday, Rep. Jason Zachary, a Republican from Knoxville, said on Twitter he has formally requested that his caucus meet. He's not calling on Casada to resign but wants to "discuss the direction moving forward in your House or Representatives."

Also on Thursday, news broke of federal agents investigating whether or not improper incentives were offered to state lawmakers to pass Lee's Education Savings Account plan.

The school vouchers legislation narrowly passed the state house last month. It was initially deadlocked 49-49, and House Speaker Glen Casada kept the vote open for 40 minutes until he convinced Representative Jason Zachary to switch his vote.

The Knoxville Republican told reporters that Casada finally got his vote by agreeing to exempt Knox County from the bill.

NewsChannel 5 has learned that federal agents are interested in discovering whether anything of value, such as campaign contributions, were offered by anyone in return for votes.

"I met with a lot of lawmakers over the process of developing this legislation for education savings accounts, and I shared my passion with each one of them certainly to persuade them that this was something that was good for Tennesseans and good for kids and good for public ed and good for the future of the state so that's the approach we took I don't know about other approaches," said Governor Lee.

Lee says the FBI has not contacted his office.

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