BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
House Speaker Glen Casada, after insisting he would stay on and regain the trust of his colleagues, announced his resignation Tuesday morning just one day after the Republican Caucus voted 45 – 24 in a vote of no confidence on the state leader.
State Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville will be take Casada’s position as Speaker of the House upon his resignation.
Casada’s statement is as follows:
“When I return to town on June 3, I will meet with Caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as Speaker so that I can help facilitate a smooth transition.”
Casada has been under fire from both sides of the political spectrum since earlier this month when NewsChannel5 and The Tennessean published reports revealing that his former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, had been 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, as well as had used cocaine in the state legislative offices. Casada was also found to be engaging with some of the revealed text messages with Cothren.
Among Republicans that voted no confidence in the speaker were Casada’s Williamson County Republican colleague Sam Whitson, who represents District 65 in the state House of Representatives.
“I’m glad he decided to do this, it makes it easy on the state and putting this behind us,” Whitson said. “I think he made the right decision, and I’m glad he did it. Basically, for the mechanics of it, he did a great job as speaker; controlling the House and moving us through the process… I mean, he did it as well as anybody.”
Whitson continued to say it wasn’t a performance-based failure that lead to Casada’s ultimate resignation announcement, but a moral one.
Regarding Dunn, who is currently the longest serving Republican in the state House of Representatives, Whitson called him a “man of high character and integrity,” and said there was no better choice than the Knoxville representative to serve as the new speaker of the house.
“There’s not a better person out there than Bill Dunn,” Whitson said. “Bill Dunn has been a mentor and a friend to me since I got up there – we’re close buddies, and I think the world of Bill Dunn – none better.”
Following the no confidence vote on Monday, Majority Leader William Lamberth took to Twitter to call for Casada to resign and for Lee to call a special session.
“There is no place in either the House Republican Caucus, in the House, or in the legislature, or anywhere in which any type of sexist or racist or inappropriate remarks are going to be permitted,” Lamberth said. “He apologized. Sometimes sorry is not enough, depending on what the behavior is. … I appreciated hearing that.”