Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Tennessee Is Finding Out Why One Party Rule Doesn't Work Out Well

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How do you measure how red a state is. Well, there's the PVI, of course. Tennessee's is R+14. Only Wyoming, West Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kentucky and Arkansas are worse. Trump's victory over Hillary was a rout-- 1,522,925 (60.7%) to 870,695 (34.7%). Trump won 92 of Tennessee's 95 counties. The only 20th Century presidents to do as well as Trump were Nixon (against MCGovern) and FDR. Currently, all six of the state's executive officers-- from governor to comptroller of the Treasury-- are Republicans. The Republicans hold super-majorities in each house of the General Assembly-- 27 seats in the 33 seat Senate and 74 seats in the 99 seat House. This isn't something you can even chalk up to gerrymandering 84.85% of Tennesseans voted for a Republican to represent them in the state Senate and 73.7% of Tennesseans voted for a Republican to represent them in the state.

That's about as red as a state can be. You know what happens when all that power gets concentrated in the hands of one basically unaccountable political party? Corrosion and corruption-- and Tennesseans have been learning all about that in the past month or so. Glen Casada was elected to the House in 2000 to represent the 63rd district south of Nashville. Most recently, he was reelected in 2018 with 67.7% of the 39,952 votes cast. This past January he was elected Speaker. The first time he made national news was when he was a plaintiff in a case asserting Obama was not born in the U.S., not a citizen and not the rightful president. A judge threw the case out. Legislatively he was known for extreme right-wing legislation-- like trying to repeal workplace non-discrimination legislation and anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim bills. This month his political career started to crumble.


On May 6, The Tennessean's Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison reported that Casada ands chief aide, Cade Cothren were sending racist and sexually explicit texts to each other. At first the plan appeared to be to have Cothren take the fall since it was fairly well-known that Cothren "has a history of sending sexually explicit text messages and making inappropriate advances toward former interns, lobbyists and campaign staffers." The early reporting attempted to make Casada look almost like an innocent bystander. Almost.
Copies of text messages sent from a cellphone number associated with Cade Cothren, 32, show Casada was included on some of the staff member’s derogatory comments toward women.

The texts also show Casada, R-Franklin, participated in some of the sexually charged messages objectifying women.

Cothren’s explicit text messages include:
soliciting oral sex and naked photos from an intern;
suggesting he would make sexual advances toward another intern;
seeking sex with a lobbyist;
referring to another woman as a “cunt”; and
calling Metro police officers who gave him parking tickets “rent a cop cocksuckers.”
The text messages range from early 2014 to fall 2016 when Cothren served as House Republicans’ press secretary.

In an interview Monday, Cothren admitted that he had sent “derogatory” texts to women in the past, but declined to elaborate on those messages or his behavior toward women.

Cothren in January became Casada’s chief of staff, earning $199,800.

“I’m just not the same guy that I was several years back,” Cothren said. “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.”

Casada summarized his involvement in some of the sexually charged text messages-- a conversation not involving the interns-- as a comment on “a relationship between two consenting adults.”

Revelations about Cothren’s inappropriate sexual advances and text messages come after Casada’s chief of staff admitted to using cocaine in the legislature’s office building. Cothren is also facing scrutiny over racist text messages.

News of Cothren and Casada’s sexually explicit remarks comes at a time of renewed scrutiny of the legislature’s sexual harassment policy.

In recent days, Casada repeatedly has vouched for Cothren, including Monday.

"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," Cothren said.

Casada said, "Who am I to hold that against someone when they've turned their life around? ... It's a very simple story of a young man going off and making some bad life decisions, but recognizing those bad life decisions."

In a statement released the same day, Casada said he believed Cothren had proved himself to be a changed man.

“I choose to believe that we all deserve a shot at redemption,” Casada said. “I gave Mr. Cothren this chance to prove himself, and that’s exactly what he’s done.”

Last week, Casada similarly expressed support for Cothren, who he said had worked for him for 10 years.

“I stand by my chief of staff on his character because I know his character,” the speaker said.

In an interview with the USA TODAY Network-Tennessee, concerning the allegations involving Cothren and interns, Casada said late Monday afternoon he needed "to reevaluate some things.”

According to copies of text messages obtained by the USA TODAY Network-Tennessee, Casada, who was married at the time, participated in Cothren’s sexually charged comments toward women.

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.”

In August 2016, Cothren texted Casada about a sexual encounter he had with a woman.

“Just so y’all know, I did fuck (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!!!!!”

In May 2016, Casada was sent another text message from Cothren but did not offer a response.

The text from Cothren said, “I have many miles and many girls to go before I sleep.”

In a separate 2016 exchange with another person, Casada said, referring to Cothren, "Those girls aren't safe!!! Shepard? He's the wolf!!!"

In the text messages Cothren made sexual advances to a legislative intern and a campaign intern for Casada, who was not included in the conversation.

In texts sent during April 2015, Cothren solicited oral sex on one occasion and nude photos another time from an intern. He also asked her whether she was wearing underwear and attempted to pivot the topic of a conversation to orgasms.

In a text conversation in February 2014, Cothren discussed another intern’s attractive appearance.

“I’m gonna keep hitting on her just to see what happens,” Cothren wrote, noting that the intern was already in a relationship. “Before long, I’ll be THAT guy.”

On Monday, Casada said if he knew Cothren was sending sexually explicit text messages to interns he would have fired him.

“He would have been let go,” Casada said. “If I had known that he was interacting with interns in that manner, I probably would have sent him to rehabilitation.”

Cothren then made sexual advances toward a female lobbyist in a series of texts in 2016 about how he would like to sleep with older women.

He asked the woman whether she enjoyed having sex in the mornings, saying he would change his sleep schedule to accommodate her preference.

In another series of texts with the woman, Cothren mocked her marital status while he and a friend encouraged her to meet with them.

When the lobbyist replied that her husband would also like to come out with the group, Cothren replied “orgy.”

The lobbyist on another day indicated that Cothren had a reputation for frequently talking with women, writing that Cothren was “#textingalltheladiesatLP,” a reference to Legislative Plaza, the legislature’s office building at the time.

The legislature’s sexual harassment policy requires anyone with knowledge of any form of discrimination or harassment to immediately contact the House and Senate speaker or any staff directors, such as the director of legislative administration.

The text messages and derogatory remarks by Casada and Cothren may make victims of sexual harassment reticent to move forward with a complaint.

...The latest revelations come after Casada elevated Rep. David Byrd to serve as an education committee chairman. Byrd faces allegations dating from the 1980s that he sexually assaulted three now adult-aged women when he was their high school basketball coach.

Byrd is one of four Tennessee lawmakers in as many years to face allegations of sexual misconduct.

Casada notably supported expelled former Rep. Jeremy Durham amid allegations of sexual harassment against multiple women working in the legislature. Casada long stood by Durham, despite an attorney general’s probe that found he had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with at least 22 women. It wasn’t until Durham faced an investigation over campaign finance issues that Casada turned on his colleague.
Then on Tuesday the same two reporters revealed that Casada had finally agreed to resign as speaker "in the coming weeks." The announcement "came less than a day after the House GOP caucus approved a resolution with a 45-24 vote stating it had no confidence in his continued leadership." He plans to stay in his House seat.
Casada had faced mounting pressure from his legislative colleagues and other Republican leaders, including Gov. Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and the state Republican Party-- in addition to longtime supporters-turned critics in Casada's district.

After the House GOP caucus's Monday vote, the governor gave Casada an ultimatum: resign or face a special session.

Others, including McNally, Tennessee Republican Party chairman Scott Golden and dozens of GOP lawmakers, similarly encouraged Casada to resign Monday... [T]he lieutenant governor was satisfied with Casada's decision to resign only as speaker but to keep his seat in the House.

...Given Casada's open-ended plans to resign, with no date set, some Republicans, including Dunn and Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, have expressed a desire to hold a special legislative session to oust Casada from his House seat.

Carter said Tuesday he would begin circulating a petition for a special session.

Prior to his Tuesday remarks, Casada showed no sign of stepping down.

“I’m disappointed in the results of today’s caucus vote," Casada said Monday. "However, I will work the next few months to regain the confidence of my colleagues so we can continue to build on the historic conservative accomplishments of this legislative session.”

Casada's decision to resign in the coming weeks bookends a whirlwind month that began with him and others celebrating the General Assembly's accomplishments during the recently concluded legislative session.

But since he began facing media scrutiny, Casada has fought for his political life.

He repeatedly resisted a chorus of calls for his resignation, hosted a caucus phone call, lobbied lawmakers, including many freshmen he helped get elected, sought advice from a public relations firm and created an action plan to address the current crisis.

In recent weeks Casada has faced calls for investigations from the U.S. Attorney and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, accusations from one lawmaker that he attempted to influence the outcome of an ethics proceeding and been the subject of a complaint filed with a local district attorney. He also resigned from his job as a veterinary pharmaceutical salesman.


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4 Comments:

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are seriously blaming this on the Republican Party? You conveniently forget that Bill Clinton engaged in even worse sexual misconduct, yet they could not get him out of office, and Democrats covered for him. Unfortunately, powerful people (sometimes even women) take advantage of their position to do bad things, but this happens regardless of party, and whichever party will initially try to protect their person, but this defense can change. This is clearly a partisan article that ignored reality.

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger Frank said...

Ha!
Standard Republican Response:
"The Democrats did it first! Nyah!"

That doesn't excuse Casada..
Bill NAFTA-stinks Clinton was problematic, as every president is. Not as egregious as some.

That's always been the difference in this two party system:
Many who vote Democrat (not just those who vote the party line) will criticize and question candidates and policies openly.

Republicans just angrily chant "We're the best! We're the best! Win win win at any cost."
Conservatives without Conscience - John W Dean

 
At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

one party rule fucks all subjects except those who actually do the ruling.

America has had one party rule, the money party, since 1980. we fucking morons elected Reagan and invited the other party to join the whoring bacchanal, which they were only too happy to do, with gusto.

and all subjects save those few who do the ruling get fucked.

Tennesseans just like all americans will never figure out anything. 3 generations of both genetic and sociopolitical dumbing has done its job quite sufficiently.

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares if Tennekuckians are getting screwed? At least libruls are pissed off, abortions are being denied to sluts, non-whites are still second class citizens, and the rich man is well cared for and doesn't close the coal mine.

 

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