TN Speaker's Racist Sexist COS Now Unemployed POS
Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada's chief of staff Cade Cothren resigned Monday night, and it wasn't just because he'd allegedly tried to frame a black student activist. It turns out Cothren has a repulsive history of sending racist and sexist text messages. He's also made gross advances toward former interns, lobbyists, and campaign staffers. He's a full deck of House of Cards.
The text messages are from 2014 to 2016. Cothren was the House Republicans' press secretary at the time, so in theory he should've known a better way to communicate with people. Cothren also seems to think three to five years ago is the distant past.
COTHREN: I'm just not the same guy that I was several years back. I was young and dumb and immature. There's no excuse for it at all, and I'm not trying to make excuses, but I can tell you that I have changed since then... While I'm not proud of who I was in the past, I am proud that, with God's grace and a strong support system, I've been able to achieve so much in the years since.
We normally believe that "existence precedes essence" but Cothren's actual existence is putrid and slimy. Texts show that Cothren requested oral sex and nude photos from interns like he was using a pervert's GrubHub. He told a lobbyist that he'd be up for sleeping with an older woman (charming). He also asked an intern about her underwear and orgasms. He could've just called a phone sex line, but he probably enjoyed exerting his dominance over women in the workplace. He's an asshole is all we're saying.
Cothren also confessed Monday to having snorted coke in his office at the Capitol. He also used other drugs but not in the legislative offices out of respect to cocaine. He claims this is part of his "personal testimony," which he now "readily admits" after News Channel 5 confronted him with texts where he boasted about all this like a moron. He claims his drug use negatively impacted his relationships and job performance (well, duh). Speaker Casada fully supported Cothren when he confided his troubles to him.
"Politics has become a game of 'gotcha' with no thought of forgiveness and starting anew," Casada said in the statement.
"I choose to believe that we all deserve a shot at redemption. I gave Mr. Cothren this chance to prove himself, and that's exactly what he has done."
That's really quite moving. Casada, by the way, supports drug testing for welfare recipients. The speaker claims Cothren sought "counseling" but Cothren confirms the "counseling" didn't include rehab or addiction treatment specifically, which is why we keep putting quotes around "counseling." Cothren went on to become Casada's chief of staff in January. He earned $199,800 a year (or would've if he'd served a full year). That was a $130,000 raise from his previous salary. If that seems excessive, you just haven't paid attention to the rising costs of cocaine.
Casada seems like the best boss ever -- more like a dad, really. Or, you know, someone implicated in Cothren's grossness who had compelling reasons to keep him close and happy. Texts from the period reveal that Casada was a willing Beavis to Cothren's Butt-head.
In July 2016, Cothren shared a photo of an upside down woman standing next to a pole. He shared the picture with Casada, who said, "What about some pole dancing!!!"
Cothren referred to the woman as "wife material" before Casada asked, "Can I just touch????"
Cothren replied, "Lol maybe just once."
Casada was married at the time. Also: Ewww. And it gets worse. If you're doing coke in your office while reading, now's a good time for another snort.
In August 2016, Cothren texted Casada about a sexual encounter he had with a woman.
"Just so y'all know, I did f—k (woman) in the bathroom at party fowl," he said, referring to the Party Fowl restaurant. "Will send pictures later."
Casada responded: "Only gone for 60 seconds," adding, "R u a minute man???;)"
Cothren said, "Yes, I take after you. Like father like son."
Casada replied, "Lolol! If I'm happy, then all is good!!!!!"
There's really nothing more pathetic than two grown men "bragging" about their inability to pleasure a woman. Casada didn't seem to find anything disturbing about these highly offensive messages. He even joined in! Casada also "joked" that "Those girls aren't safe!!!" in a separate text exchange with another person.
During a radio interview this morning, Casada claimed he was a changed man who's "embarrassed" by his past statements, which he'd like to stress are in the past.
CASADA: In the last couple of years, I have come to realize ... I can't do this and it is not appropriate behavior.
Really? Did this happen while Casada was protecting men accused of sexual misconduct? Tennessee state Rep. David Byrd admitted on tape to inappropriate contact with female players he coached. Casada promoted him to chair of an education subcommittee.
CASADA: So, yes, I participated in locker-room talk with two adult men that was not intended to go to anyone else, and I was wrong. In the last several years, that kind of talk has not entered and left my mouth.
Locker room talk? Are you fucking kidding us? These also weren't just gross texts between two gross men. Cothren and Casada worked together. Casada was Cothren's boss. The legislature's sexual harassment policy requires that anyone with knowledge of misconduct should immediately contact the House and Senate speaker. Casada should've reported Cothren and himself to himself.
People are rightly calling on Casada to resign. Republican Gov. Bill Lee has remained MIA during all this and refuses to comment. Maybe he's busy reviewing his old text messages. Regardless, Casada claimed today that he enjoys "overwhelming support" from his party.
CASADA: They are proud to have someone in charge that is leading in a direction of making Tennessee the most conservative state - and that's defined as keeping government out of your way and keeping more money in your back pocket.
They don't seem to define the "most conservative state" as one that demonstrates any respect for women or minorities. That's not a shock.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.