Republicans flee from Tennessee House speaker after chief of staff busted for drugs, sexual harassment and racism: report
Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (Image credit: NewsChannel 5 / screengrab)

On Tuesday, the Tennessean reported that top GOP officials in Tennessee are distancing themselves from state House Speaker Glen Casada's office as the fallout from the chief of staff scandal continues to grow.

Elected officials "have an obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard and cultivate an environment of professionalism and respect," said Gov. Bill Lee, adding, "We owe it to Tennesseans to ensure they know that all of us in elected office hold ourselves to that high standard. Recent revelations have shaken that faith, and we need to ensure that confidence is fully restored."

"Senate leadership and I are greatly disappointed by the inappropriate actions and attitudes revealed in recent news reports," said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally. "Every person who interacts with the state legislature should be treated with the utmost respect. It is deeply troubling that some have fallen short of this standard."

Casada's chief of staff, Cade Cothren, resigned on Monday as text messages between 2014 and 2016 uncovered in a WTVF investigation revealed he snorted cocaine in legislative offices, solicited sexual favors from an intern and a lobbyist, and called police officers who ticketed his car "rent a cop c*cksuckers."

The speaker himself was involved in some of the lewd text messages. In one instance, Cothren told him he had sex with a woman in a bathroom at a local restaurant, and Casada replied, "Only gone for 60 seconds. R u a minute man???;)"

Casada has a long history of overlooking sexual misconduct. In 2016, when he was Republican caucus chair, he confessed to having been aware of rumors of harassment by state Rep. Jeremy Durham, who resigned in disgrace over the scandal. As speaker, he also refused to discipline state Rep. David Byrd after three former girl's basketball players from Wayne County High School accused him of molesting them while coaching their team.