Two of Tennessee’s foremost elected officeholders, Gov. Bill Lee and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, have made statements this week highlighting their disapproval with House Speaker Glen Casada, who is embroiled in scandal involving his former chief of staff.
In a meeting with the press Thursday, Gov. Lee was asked if he’d request that Casada resign, were Casada one of Lee’s employees.
Lee responded, “I would.”
Likewise, McNally declared that were Casada a member of the Senate, he’d ask him to resign — and that if he himself faced similar circumstances, he’d call it quits.
“If it were me, I think if I did some of those things, I’d probably be packing my bags for Oak Ridge,” McNally, referring to his hometown, told a reporter. McNally is Casada’s counterpart in the Senate.
(Update: Lt. Gov. McNally on Friday issued a statement saying he believes “it would be in the best interest of the legislature and the state of Tennessee for Speaker Casada to vacate his office at this time.”)
Earlier this week, Casada’s 32-year-old chief of staff, Cade Cothren, stepped down after it was revealed that in year’s past he sent inappropriate and offensive text messages, some of which were directed to Casada himself.
Like Casada, both Lee and McNally are members of the Republican Party, which enjoys supermajority control over both floors of the Tennessee General Assembly.
Knoxville Republican state Rep. Bill Dunn, who serves as speaker pro tem of the House and is in line to replace Casada, is among those who say the Williamson County lawmaker is no longer fit for the job as the lower chamber’s presiding member.
Calls for Casada to hand over the speaker’s gavel to someone else have been mounting among both Republicans and Democrats in the legislature.
On Thursday, reporters for USA Today subsidiaries in Tennessee were invited “by multiple lawmakers” to eavesdrop on “a remarkable Wednesday afternoon conference phone call” among House GOP caucus members to discuss the scandal.
During the call, Casada was quoted as saying, “I want to take ownership of what I did, which was wrong. I sent a text to Cade and another individual with inappropriate comments. It was base at best.”
Speaker Casada also told lawmakers on the call, “Let me be very clear, there is nothing else to come out.”