Top Tennessee Republican subpoenaed by federal grand jury — and a dozen more may follow: report

As many as an additional dozen Republicans in the Tennessee legislature may face subpoenas in an expanding corruption scandal.

"Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton has been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury as part of an ongoing FBI investigation into Capitol Hill corruption. Legislative sources said they believe that as many as 10-12 other House Republicans were also served Tuesday with grand jury subpoenas," WTVF-TV reported Tuesday. "This dramatic development follows the recent guilty plea of now-former Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, to federal wire fraud charges relating to a shadowy company that provided mailing services to Republican lawmakers, using both campaign money and taxpayer funding."

In a statement released to WSMV-TV, Sexton suggested other members of his caucus would be subpoenaed.

"“We have been fully cooperating with the federal authorities since I became Speaker in 2019. It is not unexpected that I and other members would be called to appear before a grand jury to provide factual statements as part of this ongoing investigation,” Sexton said.

The Tennessean explained more about Smith's situation.

"Smith agreed to cooperate with investigators in an ongoing federal probe which focuses at least in part on a shadowy political consultant firm allegedly established by Cade Cothren, a one-time top aide to former House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin," the newspaper reported. "Smith pleaded guilty to working with Cothren and Casada, who is still a member of the House, in a scheme to defraud the state and members of their own Republican caucus."

Cothren resigned in 2019, saying his continued employment was "just a distraction."

"House Speaker Glen Casada's chief of staff Cade Cothren has resigned in light of reports that the top aide solicited sex in text messages to interns and lobbyists and used illegal drugs in the legislative office building," the newspaper reported at the time. "Prior to his resignation, Cothren, a longtime staffer for Casada, was named chief of staff in January and earned a salary of $199,800, the third highest for a legislative employee."

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