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TIMELINE: Capitol Hill Controversy

Posted: 10:26 PM, Jun 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-10 23:34:29-04

A text-messaging scandal, first uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, shook Tennessee's Capitol Hill and led to serious questions about who is making policy for the state's nearly 7 million people.

May 2, 2019: Did House Speaker's office attempt to frame activist?

Did House Speaker Glen Casada's office try to frame a young activist who had challenged Republican lawmakers during this year's legislative session? An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation has uncovered new evidence, including racist text messages.

May 3, 2019: Democrats demand answers about racist texts

Democrats want a more complete explanation from Glen Casada about racist e-mails that came from his chief of staff, Cade Cothren.

May 6, 2019: New text messages detail drug use, vulgar talk about women

New text messages uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates show Glen Casada's chief of staff bragging about his use of illegal drugs and engaging in vulgar conversations about women with his boss.

May 7, 2019: How did dates change, spaces suddenly appear in emails?

How do the dates on an email magically change - or spaces suddenly appear? Those questions are at the center of the continuing controversy over whether Glen Casada's office tried to frame a student activist.

May 8, 2019: Casada knew texts were real, secret recording reveals

A secret recording reveals that House Speaker Glen Casada knew that damning text messages obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates were authentic - even as he went on the attack, accusing the station of fabricating the story.

May 9, 2019: FBI investigates controversial voucher vote

FBI agents have begun interviewing lawmakers about whether any improper incentives were offered to pass Gov. Bill Lee's school vouchers bill in the state House, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned.

May 10, 2019: House Speaker put political operative on state payroll

Glen Casada put one of his political operatives on the state payroll earlier this year, giving him a $48,000-a-year job -- with no expectation that he work out of the legislature's offices, submit a formal time card or even work 40 hours a week.

May 13, 2019: Speaker Casada used tax dollars for attack on Byrd accusers

Would you spend your hard-earned money to attack women who say they were sexually assaulted by a man who's now a state lawmaker? Now, a NewsChannel 5 investigation has discovered that that's exactly what Glen Casada did with your tax dollars.

May 14, 2019: Tennessee Gov. Lee monitoring House speaker scandals

May 15, 2019: Did campaign donors pay for Casada's parties?

If you give your money to your favorite politicians, do you expect them to use that money to party with their friends? A NewsChannel 5 investigation has discovered that's exactly what House Speaker Glen Casada may have done with his donors' money.

May 16, 2019: Group asks DA to investigate Casada's political ads

An activist group is asking for a criminal investigation into whether House Speaker Glen Casada's team violated election laws in his efforts to re-elect embattled state Rep. David Byrd, who was facing 30-year-old sexual assault allegations.

May 17, 2019: Ethics Committee member demands that Speaker Casada resign

A leading Republican lawmaker has called for Glen Casada to resign, citing efforts to manipulate the House Ethics Committee to save the Speaker's skin.

May 20, 2019: Gov. Lee to call special session if Speaker doesn't resign

In a closed-door meeting, the members of the House Republican Caucus returned a 45-24 vote of no confidence in House Speaker Glen Casada. Gov. Bill Lee said he was prepared to call a special session if Casada did not resign.

May 21, 2019: Glen Casada announces plans to resign as House Speaker

House Speaker Glen Casada, ending two weeks of scandal, said Tuesday morning he will resign as Speaker in the coming weeks following a planned vacation.

May 22, 2019: Possible future Speaker 'believes the women' accusing Byrd

One down, one more to go. That's the message from Enough is Enough-Tennessee, a group of women activists who have targeted men behaving badly in the Tennessee legislature.

May 23, 2019: Lee: It's 'past time' for Byrd to address sex assault claims

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says it's time for embattled Rep. David Byrd to come clean about 30-year-old sexual assault allegations. In addition, for the first time, some of the men who have expressed an interest in being the next House Speaker are expressing sympathy for Byrd's accusers.

May 29, 2019: Casada aide may be forced to repay state for no-show days

A longtime political operative for House Speaker Glen Casada may soon have to write a check to taxpayers - for hours where he got paid but didn't show up for work.

May 30, 2019: Davidson County lawmakers ask Funk to investigate Casada

It comes a day after Funk's office told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that the D.A. had not ordered an investigation into a political operative's questionable state job because no one had complained to them about the deal. That deal was first exposed by NewsChannel 5.

May 31, 2019: TN House Speaker's aide calls public schools 'satanic'

Scott Alan Buss thinks public education is a satanic plot, that the Pope and Donald Trump are both anti-Christs and that concerns over the spread of measles is nothing but government propaganda. And get this: Glen Casada is using your money to pay him $53,000 a year to help influence state policy.

June 3, 2019: DA: Gay people not entitled to domestic violence protections

A newly discovered video shows a Middle Tennessee prosecutor boasting that, if gay people in his district end up being victims of domestic violence, they should not expect him to use the state's domestic violence laws to protect them.

June 4, 2019: Glen Casada to resign as House Speaker Aug. 2

Glen Casada has announced that he will step down as Tennessee's House Speaker on August 2nd. That's 73 days since announcing his intention to resign. In a letter to lawmakers, he also asked that Gov. Lee call a special session that day to elect a new Speaker.

June 5, 2019: Republicans call Casada's resignation timeline 'ridiculous and unacceptable'

Republicans continued to slam disgraced House Speaker Glen Casada on Wednesday, one day after the Williamson County Republican announced plans to draw out his resignation for nearly two months.

June 6, 2019: Embattled DA dodges questions as complaints mount

If a Middle Tennessee prosecutor has a defense for refusal to provide domestic violence protections to same-sex couples, he's keeping it to himself. Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott now finds himself at the center of a national firestorm.

June 7, 2019: Controversial DA finds no defenders among fellow prosecutors

Coffee County DA Craig Northcott finds himself increasingly isolated, with no one in the legal community defending his views of the legal rights of gay people and Muslims. In fact, some of his own prosecutor colleagues say Northcott is out of step with what the law requires.

June 15, 2019: Governor announces he will call a special session to pick new House leadership

Gov. Bill Lee announced Saturday night that he would be calling a special session to allow the House to pick a new Speaker. Lee made the announcement at the Tennessee Republican Party's annual Statesmen's Dinner.

July 16, 2019: Could $1,000 checks help decide next Tennessee House Speaker?

House Republicans meet next week to pick their nominee to replace outgoing Speaker Glen Casada. As the candidates try to round up votes, our NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered one of them is coming with his checkbook in hand.

July 17, 2019: Activist asks judge to disqualify anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT prosecutor

Coffee County district attorney Craig Northcott should be disqualified from handling a case involving Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada because of his role in lobbying the legislature, as well as his anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT and racially insensitive views, a new court filing argues.

July 22, 2019: Voucher vote: Tax money offered as bait, possible bribery

As Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's school vouchers bill was set for a vote back in April in the state House, proponents were still looking for the crucial 50th vote they needed for it to pass. Now, a NewsChannel 5 investigation has discovered that the story of the controversial bill's passage is a story of taxpayer money offered as bait and potentially even an attempted bribe.

July 23, 2019: Republican says Speaker's threats helped pass school vouchers

An exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation first revealed evidence of political side deals, even a potential bribe offer, to pass the governor's school vouchers bill. Now, a veteran Republican says the bill -- to use your tax dollars for private school tuition -- was also built on the Speaker's threats.

July 24, 2019: Tennessee House GOP nominates Rep. Cameron Sexton as new speaker after Casada scandal

Tennessee House Republican lawmakers have nominated Rep. Cameron Sexton to replace House Speaker Glen Casada, who is slated to resign over mounting scandals.

July 25, 2019: Anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT DA says critics are infringing on his rights

A Middle Tennessee district attorney, facing criticism for expressing doubt about whether Muslims and LGBT individuals are entitled to legal protections, says his critics are trying to infringe upon his religious rights.

July 29, 2019: Attorneys ask for immediate suspension of controversial DA

Coffee County District Attorney General Craig Northcott needs to be immediately suspended so the board that regulates attorneys can investigate whether he’s competent to continue practicing law, a newly filed request argues.

Aug. 1, 2019: Tennessee governor denies knowing about alleged bribe offer

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says he does not know anything about an alleged bribe that was offered to get his school vouchers legislation passed through the state House.

Aug. 2, 2019: Loophole could let Casada pocket political war chest

Former House Speaker Glen Casada leaves office with nearly $200,000 in a political warchest that could be his to keep.

Aug. 14, 2019: Lawyers accuse DA of imposing 'his interpretation of God'

Lawyers representing the LGBT community, the NAACP and more than a dozen legislators have asked a Davidson County judge to disqualify a controversial prosecutor from handling a case involving a student protester.

Aug. 15, 2019: Judge refuses to disqualify anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT prosecutor

A Davidson County judge refused Thursday to disqualify a controversial DA from prosecuting a case involving a student activist and former House Speaker Glen Casada.

Aug. 23, 2019: Tennessee House sends resolution to expel Rep. Byrd to Judiciary Committee

House Republicans stopped two efforts to expel embattled Tennessee Rep. David Byrd amid sexual misconduct allegations. During Friday's special session, House Republicans first voted to refer a resolution that would expel Rep. Byrd to the Judiciary Committee.

View NewsChannel 5's full investigation:

Capitol Hill Controversy