PHOTO: Michelle Bewley (center) and the organization Indivisible TN7 organized Friday’s protest calling for Glen Casada to step down from his District 63 seat. With her are Lori Clemons and Robert McNamara. // Photos by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
A small group of protesters gathered on the Franklin town square Friday to add their voices to the calls that Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada resign not only as speaker but also from his seat in the legislature.
“Stepping down as the leader is not sufficient,” said Jane Watson of Arrington, who was attending her first organized protest. “He needs to be out of the legislature. We need to make sure we get corruption out of the government.”
Around 25 people showed up on the square, carrying signs and helping to hold a large banner that read “Resign Casada.” The protest was pulled together by Michelle Bewley and the organization Indivisible TN7.
Calls for Casada, R-District 63, to resign from his seat have increased since he announced on May 21 that he would step down as speaker, one day after a vote of no confidence from the Tennessee House Republican Caucus. On Tuesday this week, he announced through a formal letter that his resignation won’t take effect until Aug. 2 and that he is requesting that Gov. Bill Lee call a special session on that day to choose a successor.
“During the special session, the House may take up the procedural matter of electing a new Speaker to lead the chamber,” Casada wrote in the letter.
Calls for Casada’s resignation first came in early May after reports revealed text messages suggesting that his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, had engaged in inappropriate, and potentially illegal, behavior. Through leaked text messages, it was revealed that Cothren had sent sexually explicit messages to and about female interns, used racially derogatory remarks such as the n-word, and had used cocaine in the state legislative offices. Casada was also found to have engaged Cothren in some of the text messages.
“The tweets were a national embarrassment,” said Pat Foken, one of Friday’s protesters. Williamson County is very pro-business, and I’m a business person myself. And then there’s the policy issue where he doesn’t listen to us, doesn’t support local municipalities governing their own traffic, their own education.
“So there’s policy issues, but yes, there’s the morality. This is a state where people have family values and he does not represent my family values.”