Tennessee “Family Values” GOP House Speaker Glen Casada—He’s Out! May 26, 2019
We endlessly hear the GOP talking about being the party of “family values.’ “Family values,” when applied to the GOP, constitutes one big oxymoron. Witness the latest scandal that comes from the “ruby Red” state of TN. On 5/21/2019, Glen Casada, after initial resistance, stated he intended to resign from his post (cnn.com, Stracqualursi, 5/21/19). Casada is no “Team Red” back bencher. Since 1/08/2019, he has been Speaker of the TN state House, in which Republicans outnumber Democrats by 47 members, 73R’s-26 D’s (CQ, 116th Congress At Your Fingertips, tennessean.com, 1/08/19). Casada was elected to that position by his fellow GOP state House members (tennessean.com, 1/08/19). However, on 5/20/2019, that same GOP caucus voted 45-24 in favor of a “No-confidence” resolution (tennessean.com, 5/20/19). Casada will still remain in the House chamber as a member (WHBQ). Why did Casada have to vacate the Speakership? A chain of text messages made in 2016 were uncovered by local media in which Casada was talking with his former chief-of-staff Cade Cothren. In those messages, lewd and sexually explicit comments about women were made between them. Racist comments were also exchanged by the two of them. Cothren also snorted cocaine on government premises (talkingpointsmemo.com, Riga, 5/07/19). Cothren, who resigned earlier in 5/2019, also tried to frame a protestor and sent sexually explicit messages to interns. Casada dismissed his own participation in sexual and derogatory messages with Cothren as “locker room talk,” just like Demagogue Donald did to describe his vulgar language in the awful “Access Hollywood” tape (cnn.com, Stracqualursi). While Donald got away with that, the TN GOP House caucus condemned Casada. They, no doubt, feared that that if they did nothing, their political futures, even in “Red” TN, could be jeopardized.
Casada’s response? He defended Cothren in interviews with the media. He denied knowing that Cothren used cocaine or sexually harassed interns. Casada admitted that “in the last couple of years, I have come to realize—I can’t do this and it is not appropriate behavior (talkingpointsmemo, Riga, 5/07/19).” What took him so long to understand that? Let’s look at Glen Casada.
Jeffersonville, IN native Richard Glen Casada, Jr. (59) received a 1982 B.S. degree in Agriculture and Education from Western Kentucky University (capitol.tn.gov/house/members). In 1994, TN resident Casada was elected to the County Commission of Williamson County. In 2003, he won election to the TN House of Representatives, representing the Volunteer State’s 63rd House District, HD (ourcampaigns.com, “TN House 63 Race, 11/05/02”). The TN 63rd HD includes the city of Franklin and part of Williamson County. This region is south of Nashville, the state’s capital. Williamson County is the state’s fastest growing county. Measured by median income, Williamson County is TN’s wealthiest and is heavily GOP. This area is part of TN’s 7th U.S. Congressional District and is represented in D.C. by GOP Cong. Mark Green, president of the congressional freshman GOP class (shareblue.com). This congressional district, including the 63rd HD part of it, is “lobster Red,” with an R+20 Cook PVI, Partisan Voting Index (cookpolitical.com, 4/07/17). Cong. Green is also a medical doctor who has stated that vaccines may cause autism, the debunked fringe/conspiracy theory that has contributed to the terrible U.S. measles outbreak (See shareblue.com, 12/14/18, Martin).
And here are the some of the “highlights” of Casada’s record before he assumed office as TN House Speaker. Casada was an activist member of the wacko anti-Obama “birther” movement. In 2009, he was one of the plaintiffs in a federal court lawsuit that claimed Obama was not an American citizen and, therefore, ineligible to be President. The federal judge ruled that Casada and other state legislators who joined him lacked standing to sue, since the alleged harm they feared was “highly speculative and conjectural (latimes.com, “Captain Pamela Barnett v. Barack Hussein Obama”).” In 4/2011, Casada tried to repeal a workplace non-discrimination bill for sexual orientation and gender identity in Nashville (nashvillecitypaper.co, 4/12/11). This bill was opposed by the gay Log Cabin Republicans but backed by the socially conservative Family Action Council of Tennessee (outandaboutnashville.com, Stepien, 5/01/11). In 11/2015, Casada stated he wanted to return Syrian refugees living in TN to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE (npr.org, 11/19/15).
In his safe GOP district, Casada was handily re-elected. He voted for Ted Cruz in the GOP presidential primary and for Donald in the general election (timesfreepress.com, 5/05/16). In 2/2017, his fellow GOP legislators selected Casada to be Republican Majority Leader (nashvillepublicradio.org, 2/28/17). On 3/04/2017, Casada was one of the main speakers at a downtown Nashville rally that celebrated Trump’s policies (wkrn.com, 3/04/17).
As State House Speaker, Casada is the second in line for succession to the governorship after the Speaker of the State Senate. He is also a voting member of all House committees (capitol.tn.gov/house/speaker). He has A+ ratings from the NRA (National Rifle Association) and nearly 90% ratings from social conservative groups. Casada has 100% ratings from the anti-choice TN Right to Life group (votesmart.org).
AL is not the only “Red” state to enact draconian anti-abortion laws. In 4/2019, TN GOP Gov. Bill Lee signed the “Human Life Protection Act.” This legislation, passed by both GOP-dominated TN state legislative chambers, would trigger an abortion ban in the state should the U.S. Supreme Ct. overrule Roe v. Wade or an anti-abortion amendment makes it into the Constitution. With Brett Kavanaugh replacing retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the High Ct. now has 5 anti-choice members who could decide to overturn Roe (Chief Justice Roberts, Associate Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh). The TN law provides only one exception to the ban an abortion—when this procedure is necessary to prevent death or “substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function.” It would be a felony under this law for doctors to perform abortions (tennessean.com, Wadhwani & Allen, 4/22/19). Casada was solidly in the anti-abortion camp here. He also backed, along with Gov. Lee, an unsuccessful attempt to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected, usually at six weeks of pregnancy. This “heartbeat” bill failed only because enough anti-abortion TN GOPers feared that this measure would result in “expensive legal challenges and uncertain outcomes (tennessean.com, 4/22/19).” You get the idea.
The TN House Ethics Committee is investigating Casada’s conversations with his former chief-of-staff. Evidence unveiled from a fellow GOPer on that committee showed Casada attempted to rig the review with an exonerating “advisory” opinion from his handpicked allies (dlcc.org, 5/20/19). In his brief time as Speaker, Casada has cost TN taxpayers $101, 000 for the salary and unused vacation time of former chief-of-staff Cothren. Casada has also burdened Tennesseans with $46,000 to renovate the Speaker’s office, which was brand new as of 1/2018. Taxpayers will also be footing the bill for Casada’s $11,000 white noise machine system, and $7,900 for use of a state plane (tennessean.com, Ebert & Allison, 5/24/19).
It does not seem like discredited Casada will resign from office. More likely, after losing his Speakership, some GOPers will challenge Casada in a primary, should he run again. Should Casada win a primary fight, Democrats, fair-minded GOPers, and Independents must come out in droves to defeat him in the general election. His actions are a disgrace to TN. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), the group that helps elect Democrats to state house seats, has weighed in on Casada. Its Executive Director Jessica Post aptly stated, “Casada’s behavior casts a shadow over the (TN) General Assembly (State Senate and House) and the Republican Party as long as he remains in office.”