'We will not tolerate public corruption': Lawmakers express disappointment following Glen Casada indictment

Tennessee Capitol sunset
Posted at 10:47 AM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 06:57:05-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Following the indictment by a federal grand jury, Tennessee lawmakers are commenting on the charges against former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his former chief of staff Cade Cothren.

Among the 20 charges is conspiracy to commit bribery and accept kickbacks.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton

“In Tennessee, we will not tolerate public corruption, defrauding our state, or bribery at any level," Sexton said in his statement. "I commend the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its hard work, diligence, and dedication that resulted in this morning’s arrests."

Sexton continued saying that shortly after becoming Speaker in 2019, he began assisting federal authorities throughout their investigation, including leading up to Tuesday's indictments.

"Together, our legislative body has stood strong over the past two years to take significant actions during this investigation by passing laws to strengthen campaign finance regulations and new ethics laws for elected officials and staff," Sexton continued. "Today is a good day for Tennesseans because we did not turn a blind eye on these criminal activities.”

Tennessee House Minority Leader Karen Camper

"When something like this happens, it reflects poorly on the entire Legislature," Camper said in a statement. "We are elected to serve the public and when that trust is broken, it’s very disheartening and erodes the confidence that our constituents have in government."

Camper ended her statement by calling for further campaign finance reform.

Gov. Bill Lee's Office

"We trust the legal process and continue to hold Tennessee’s public servants to high standards of accountability," said Casey Sellers, director of communications for the governor's office. "The Governor commends Speaker Sexton for running the House with integrity and setting the expectation that elected leaders must serve Tennesseans in good faith."

House Majority Leader William Lamberth and House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison

Lamberth and Faison released a joint statement in response to the allegations against Casada.

"The illegal behavior outlined in today’s indictments is extremely serious, and disappointing to our entire caucus," the statement reads. "We appreciate Speaker Sexton’s leadership on this situation, as well as the efforts of our House leadership team in bringing these crimes to light. We also stand with federal law enforcement and are grateful for their efforts to hold those responsible for these crimes accountable. Now, we can all move forward and continue focusing on meeting the needs of citizens across Tennessee."

House Democratic Caucus Chairman, Rep. Vincent Dixie

Rep. Vincent Dixie, who serves as the Democratic Caucus Chairman in the Tennessee House of Representatives, may sit on the left side of the aisle, but he doesn't think it's right to celebrate this indictment. "This is a black day, this a black eye on the legislature as a whole," Rep. Dixie said in an interview with NewsChannel 5. "It further breeds into the public sentiment that government officials are corrupt, they’re no good, they will take bribes, they will do anything for money to promote themselves rather than promote the people."

Dixie speculates this may not be the last charge filed. "There's no way they could have perpetrated this without other help, it had to be a larger scheme of collusion," he said.

Former Speaker Casada and Cade Cothren declined to answer NewsChannel 5's Chris Davis's question as they left the federal courthouse: Do you owe Tennesseans an apology?

Rep. Dixie says yes. "But it’s too little too late. When they were perpetrating these potential crimes, they didn’t have Tennessee in mind when they were doing it, they had themselves in mind," said Rep. Dixie.