NewsNewsChannel 5 InvestigatesCapitol Hill


Who's telling the truth? You decide

Majority caucus to elect new house leadership
Posted at 2:20 PM, May 03, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Late Thursday, Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada's office defended the actions of his chief of staff Cade Cothren by releasing an email that Cothren had claimed did not exist.

Then, the Williamson County Republican accused NewsChannel 5 of not telling the truth.

At the center of the controversy is a photo that Cothren had sent to the DA's office back in March, suggesting that student activist Justin Jones had violated a court's no-contact order by sending an email that was allegedly dated March 1. The email had actually been sent on Feb. 25, before there was a no-contact order.

The DA's office then filed a motion to revoke Jones' bond.

So how did that happen?

On April 24, more than a week before our story broke, we asked Casada's chief of staff for his emails with the DA's office.

The Speaker's office ignored our request.

So, on Monday, April 29th, we asked for an on-camera interview with Casada and Cothren.

That's when the Speaker's chief of staff finally responded, claiming "we have no emails to provide of correspondence."

Thanks to the Speaker's statements, we now know that was false.

Again, we attempted to get clarification.

Cothren never responded.

Late that day, NewsChannel 5 attempted to interview both Casada and Cothren.

Neither offered any explanation.

After NewsChannel 5's story broke, Casada's office released an email chain between Cothren and the DA's office, then attacked the station for not reporting their version of events.

Included was a March 3 email from Cothren to assistant DA Will Griffith in which Casada's chief of staff was responding to questions about the true date of Jones' email contact.

Cothren was claiming that the date of the email had changed when he tried to forward it.

The emails -- the ones that Casada's office had claimed did not exist -- show that Cothren later told the DA's office, "let's just hold off" on the motion to revoke Jones' bond.

Why did Casada's office not release those emails a week before? We don't know.

In a separate summary to NewsChannel 5, Casada's office claims there were other computer glitches that prevented emails from getting through to the Speaker's office.

For example, the analysis claims that emails to Cothren from Justin Jones' Gmail account had been "deleted by the email security system" due to "anomalous originating IP addresses."

Cothren had falsely tried to convince Jones that he had misspelled the word "capitol."

The analysis also claims that NewsChannel 5's emails to Casada and Cothren, requesting comment on the chief of staff's racist texts were deleted from the system because they contained racial epitaphs.

However, NewsChannel 5 had repeatedly asked Cothren about those text messages during our attempt to interview him.

We also offered to show him printouts.

Cothren never denied that they were his texts, and the Speaker's office never attempted to provide NewsChannel 5 with any statement before the story aired.