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New text messages detail drug use, vulgar talk by Speaker's chief of staff

Posted: 6:25 PM, May 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-10 14:59:13-04
Cade Cothren drug tests.jpg

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New text messages uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates show House Speaker Glen Casada's chief of staff bragging about his use of illegal drugs and engaging in vulgar conversations about women with his boss.

Included is a text where Cade Cothren brags about snorting cocaine inside his legislative office.

All of this comes days after NewsChannel 5 uncovered racist text messages from the chief of staff -- text messages that Casada had suggested might have been fabricated.

"My chief of staff is up here. He's up here working. He did nothing wrong," Casada told reporters Thursday after NewsChannel 5's report was published online.

Among Cothren's text messages, there was a 2015 text saying "black people are idiots." In another, he insisted on using "thug n***er" to describe Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston.

And in a 2016 exchange with Casada himself, Cothren responded with a "black people" meme, apparently referring to a West Tennessee district.

The House Speaker claimed he never got such a text.

"Again, it kind of verifies in my mind there's something not right about that story," he said Thursday night in an end-of-session news conference.

It was a theme Casada continued Friday on talk radio.

"In this environment that we live in -- because we as conservatives are winning the intellectual battle -- I'm convinced that some liberal guy living with his mom-and-dad in their basement created this to frame my chief of staff," he told WWTN host Phil Valentine.

But the text messages also included a selfie that Cothren had taken at 2:15 a.m. during a trip to Colorado.

He texted, "Tripping balls out of my mind at 2:15. Craziest experience of my entire life. Acid, cocaine, weed."

He also shared a video from a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and a wild scene from a party bus.

After a 2016 trip to the Dominican Republic, Cothren also texted: "just did a gram of cocaine in my office."

It was sent at 10:38 a.m. on a work day.

After having ignored our previous questions about his racist text messages, Cothren responded this time with a written statement.

"Regarding the texts in question, I readily admit that I sent some of them. While I'm not proud of who I was in the past, I am proud that, with God's grace and a strong support system, I've been able to achieve so much in the years since."

Casada himself had backed legislation in 2014 cutting off welfare recipients who test positive for drugs.

But in the case of Cothren, who makes $200,000 a year, the House Speaker was more lenient.

"Politics has become a game of 'gotcha' with no thought of forgiveness and starting anew," Casada said.

"I choose to believe that we all all deserve a shot at redemption."

But it wasn't just comments about minorities, we also obtained other text messages in which Cothren solicited sexual favors from legislative interns and suggested sex with a female lobbyist who was older than him.

"I want you to be my first" older woman, he texted.

In one case, in 2016, Cothren texted a picture of a female friend pole dancing to Casada.

The House speaker responded, "Nice pics."

Cothren: "Hands to yourself :)"

The Speaker: "Can I just touch?"

Cothren: "Lol okay maybe just once."

The Speaker: "Lol."

Of course, this follows a legislative session in which Casada repeatedly dodged questions about allegations that a member of his own party had sexually molested some teenage girls years ago.

Now, after the Speaker accused us of airing fabricated text messages, Cade Cothren suddenly says he can't remember whether he sent them or not.

As for the drug use, the legislature's Black Caucus is now calling for the TBI to investigate.

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