When he was elected in January, House Speaker Glen Casada was poised to become one of the most powerful figures in the state. But less than five months later, he’s agreed to resign.
Casada’s tumble from grace unfolded in less than three weeks. Here are some key moments:
May 2: NewsChannel5 publishes leaked screenshots that show Cothren sending racist text messages, including one meme about black people to Casada. Another screenshot suggests that Cothren may have doctored evidence regarding charges against an African American activist, Justin Jones. Cothren denies doing so.
May 6: Cothren admits to using cocaine in his state office in recent years. Then, The Tennessean publishes leaked text messages showing the aide making sexual advances to interns and a lobbyist between 2014 and 2016. They also show his exchanging lewd comments about women with Casada. At the end of the day, Cothren resigns.
May 7: Some black lawmakers calls for an investigation into the racist text messages and the potential doctoring of evidence.
May 8: Casada makes his first public statement and introduces an “action plan” to restore trust, including creating diversity training with the House Black Caucus. But on a conference call with other GOP lawmakers, a handful explicitly call for his resignation.
May 9: NewsChannel5, citing anonymous sources, reports the FBI is investigating whether lawmakers were offered improper incentives in exchange for voting for school vouchers, an issue that Casada championed. Gov. Bill Lee tells The Tennessean that if Casada worked for his administration, he would ask him to resign.
May 10: The Black Caucus holds a press conference to say Casada never reached out to them about diversity training. Casada issues a new statement noting that a special prosecutor has begun investigating the potential doctoring of evidence and agrees to hold a GOP caucus meeting. NewsChannel 5 reports that Casada put a political operative on the legislative payroll but did not require him to appear for work during session.
May 13: Casada meets with the Black Caucus. Afterward, members ask Casada to resign.
May 14: Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk refers the Justin Jones case to a special prosecutor in Coffee County.
May 15: The Tennessean reports that Casada used a state plane to make five trips in three months, including to attend a political dinner. His predecessor used state planes twice in eight years.
May 16: Enough Is Enough, a political group critical of Casada, asks Nashville’s district attorney to investigate whether social media ads paid for by the speaker’s political action committee broke state disclosure laws.
May 20: House Republicans vote 45-24 for a resolution expressing that they have no confidence in the speaker. House Republican leaders call on Casada to resign and Gov. Bill Lee says he’ll call a special session if he doesn’t.
May 21: Glen Casada announces he will step down as House speaker. He asks for the exact date to be determined in June.