Embattled House Speaker Glen Casada met with members of the Legislative Black Caucus Monday and the caucus announced Monday evening they want him to resign from the leadership position.
At issue with the black caucus are the racist texts allegedly sent three years ago by Speaker Casada’s former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren.
“We have a culture of racism inside the Tennessee Legislature. That is a fact,” said Rep. Antonio Parkinson, who is also a member of the Black Caucus.
Casada apologized for sending two offensive texts.
“My sin was I used base language towards two men, not directed at anybody but those two men, that was not appropriate talk for a Speaker of the House. But I did it. And I apologize for those two texts. That’s what I’m guilty of. And I apologize because it pains me. But that was three and a half years ago. And if you look at my texts today you do not see that talk in today’s texts.”
Watch as Casada answers reporter questions. Click here to watch from the News 2 app.
Casada believes “the overwhelming majority” of lawmakers in the House are still supporting him, despite some Republicans who have called for him to step down from the Speaker’s post. He claims other lawmakers have done things that are worse.
“I think it’s important that I stay because if 2 texts runs someone out of office then there is no one qualified. We’ve got members all across the community that have done things that are not excusable and they’re still in leadership roll. I did those 2 texts. I have sought and received forgiveness. So now it’s time to put the house back together. The House is run better than it has in a generation and I want to continue leading Tennessee to be the best state in the Union.
Casada asked for the meeting with members of the Legislative Black Caucus during the events of the last 10 days.
Initially, Casada publicly supported Cothren when the issue first surfaced. He said, “I have never in that period of time seen Cade exhibit any characteristics that were racist or anything demeaning about anybody or anyone.”
Cothren apologized, then resigned more than a week ago as allegations continued to surface about racist and sexist text messages.
Four members of the House Ethics Committee were also waiting this morning to meet one-on-one with Chair Matthew Hill. Speaker Casada has requested an advisory opinion from the committee about the resignation of his chief of staff.
Chairman Hill released a statement Monday afternoon:
This morning, I met individually with members of the House Ethics Committee and our attorneys to begin conversations about formulating an advisory opinion at the Speaker’s request. The goal was for the entire committee to reconvene later this afternoon for additional discussions about this matter. However, we decided to reschedule for a later date because we wanted to give members of the public sufficient notice as to when the meeting will take place. Pursuant to House rules, all ethics committee meetings are open except in a couple of instances including those related to advisory opinions.
As the controversy grew last week, several lawmakers from Casada’s own Republican party joined a chorus of Democrats calling on Casada to resign from his position as Speaker.
Instead of resigning, he issued an apology. Referring to the “racial slurs, drug use, and various other inappropriate comments,” made by his former top aide, Casada said, “I condemn them in their entirety and I do not tolerate that type of behavior as an elected official or as a human being.”
Casada also released an action plan to “prevent future missteps.”
Late last week he also acknowledged that a special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate claims that dates were changed on emails forwarded by members of his staff.
The emails in question were about a Justin Jones, a regular protestor at the State Capitol who has since been banned from the property.