MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Believe it or not, another scandal is brewing at the state capitol. And it just might be the most serious since the infamous Tennessee Waltz scandal in 2005.
This one involves former House speaker and current representative Glen Casada – along with his onetime chief of staff Cade Cothren. It has already led to the indictment, guilty plea, and resignation of House member Robin Smith – who admitted to wire fraud last week.
The scandal involves an elaborate scheme to set up a phony political consulting company called Phoenix Solutions, supposedly owned by someone named Matthew Phoenix - except Matthew Phoenix does not exist. The bogus company was actually run by Cothren – apparently with help from Casada and Smith. An analysis by The Tennessean newspaper showed that at least eight state legislators and two political action committee spent nearly $200,000 with the company. And prosecutors allege Casada got some of the proceeds.
You may recall that Casada and Cothren were involved in a sexually explicit texting scandal in 2019 – a scandal that cost Cothren his legislative job and cost Casada the speaker’s position. But this is far worse, and it calls into question whether Casada is fit to remain in office.
Lawmakers did not hesitate to expel former Democratic senator Katrina Robinson for her criminal behavior. Now we will see how the Republican supermajority handles an even bigger scandal – involving one of their own.