The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether lawmakers were offered improper incentives to vote for Gov. Bill Lee’s school voucher bill, according to Nashville CBS affiliate WTVF.
The Tennessee House narrowly passed the controversial voucher bill last month. The measure looked like it wasn’t going to pass until Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) changed his “no” vote.
Zachary said he only agreed to the bill after he was promised Knox County would be removed from counties where students would be eligible for the annual $7300 vouchers.
Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville) says he was approached by Cade Cothren, House Speaker Glen Casada’s former chief of staff, on the day of the vote.
“They needed me to vote in favor of the voucher bill,” Hawk told News Channel 11 Thursday night. “Then he (Cothran) proceeded to ask me what I wanted. I told him very plainly that he and speaker Casada had nothing that I wanted.”
He says the conversation then got heated.
“It ended with ‘I don’t play games of this nature. This is not how we should legislate in Tennessee,'” Hawk said.
“I thought it was par for the course for Speaker Casada and Mr. Cothran,” Hawk added. “It wasn’t surprising coming from them.”
Cothren resigned earlier this week amid allegations he sent racist and sexually explicit text messages and after admitting to using cocaine while on the job.
In 2018, Hawk ran against Casada for the speaker position. He said he ran against Casada with the expressed purpose of keeping his opponent out of the top leadership post.
“I knew that if Glen Casada were elected speaker of the house that it would be a disaster for our legislative bodym” Hawk said. “Unfortunately, my fears have come true.”
Hawk has called on Casada to resign.