AP NEWS

The Latest: Tennessee speaker aide resigns amid allegations

May 7, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on the Tennessee House speaker’s chief of staff (all times local):

7 p.m.

The Tennessee House speaker’s top aide has resigned amid allegations that the aide sent racist and sexually explicit texts.

Chief of Staff Cade Cothren resigned Monday, hours after he also admitted to doing cocaine in a legislative office building years ago when he was press secretary for the Tennessee House Republican Caucus.

House Speaker Glen Casada confirmed the resignation to The Associated Press late Monday.

Cothren did not give a clear response Monday to allegations that during the time he was doing drugs, he also sent texts in which he used a racial slur and called black people idiots. WTVF-TV first reported on the texts last week. In an email to the AP, he said that he had done things he was “not proud of.”

Nor did he respond definitively to allegations reported in The Tennessean on Monday that he sent sexually explicit messages to and made “inappropriate” advances toward former interns, lobbyists and campaign staffers between 2014 and 2016.

The Tennessean quoted Cothren as saying that he had sent “derogatory” texts to women in the past.

The newspaper quoted House Speaker Glen Casada as saying that his own involvement in the sexually explicit messages amounted to comments on “a relationship between two consenting adults.”

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6:15 p.m.

A newspaper is reporting that the Tennessee House speaker and his top aide sent each other sexually explicit text messages about women.

The Tennessean on Monday also reported Chief of Staff Cade Cothren sent sexually explicit messages to and made “inappropriate” advances toward former interns, lobbyists and campaign staffers between 2014 and 2016.

The newspaper said the text messages between the two men did not involve the former interns. It did not say if they involved the others.

Cothren told The Associated Press in an email the accusations are “years old.” He also referred the AP back to a statement he had sent earlier Monday in response to other allegations. In that statement, he said he had done things he was “not proud of.”

The Tennessean quoted him as saying that he had sent “derogatory” texts to women in the past. It quoted House Speaker Glen Casada as saying that his own involvement in the messages amounted to comments on “a relationship between two consenting adults.”

Also Monday, Cothren admitted to using cocaine in the legislative office building years ago when he was press secretary for the Tennessee House Republican caucus. WTVF-TV first reported the drug use.

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2:40 p.m.

A top aide for Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada has admitted using cocaine in a legislative office building.

Chief of Staff Cade Cothren on Monday told news outlets he used the drug at work several years ago but no longer does so.

But Cothren didn’t give a clear response to allegations that during that time frame he also sent texts in which he used racial slurs and called black people idiots. WTVF-TV first reported on the texts last week.

The TV station quotes the 31-year-old aide as saying in an email Monday that because the texts allegedly happened years ago, “I can sincerely say it is hard for me to remember things with absolute clarity.”