The Tennessee Black Caucus has asked Glen Casada to step down as Speaker of the state House of Representatives.
The decision comes after messages leaked to the media show Casada receiving a racist text message from his former chief of staff Cade Cothren, as well as engaging in sexist conversations.
The Black Caucus met on Monday for two hours with Casada, who has denied participating in racist behavior. But Memphis Rep. G. A. Hardaway, the caucus’s chairman, said the group wasn’t convinced.
“We are not stupid enough to think that that was a solitary email,” Hardaway told reporters after the caucus vote, “that those types of memes, that type of language, was exclusively contained within one or two emails. We don’t believe that.”
Hardaway said that during the caucus meeting — in which all 17 caucus members from Senate and House participated — lawmakers discussed whether Casada’s office intentionally tried to mislead prosecutors into believing activist Justin Jones, who is African American, had violated a no-contact order.
Hardaway said Casada’s explanations about the handling of that email exchange between Jones and Cothren did not satisfy the group either.
In a statement, Casada told WPLN he understands the decision of the Black Caucus, and that he hopes to regain their trust.
And earlier on Monday, he said he is not resigning. “It’s important that I stay, because if two texts run someone out of office, then there is no one qualified,” he told reporters. “We’ve got members all across the community that have done things that are not excusable and they are still in leadership roles.”
Meanwhile, a special meeting of House Republicans to discuss Casada’s future is yet to be scheduled.