NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - Federal agents executed search warrants at the homes and offices of several Republican lawmakers Friday.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton provided details in a news conference late Friday morning saying the searches are part of an ongoing investigation connected to former House Speaker Glen Casada’s office.
“This has been a trying week for our country, and this will be a difficult time for our state as well as we go down this road,” said Sexton.
Offices for Reps. Casada, Todd Warner and Robin Smith were all searched by the FBI.
Sexton said he will encourage those colleagues to cooperate with federal authorities as he has and will continue to do.
Sexton said he was contacted by the feds about the investigation shortly after being named House Speaker in 2019.
He was elected speaker following Casada’s resignation after a “no confidence” vote cast by Tennessee House Republicans, which followed a series of scandals, including lewd text messages made public.
Casada’s former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren resigned after the controversy. Federal agents were also at his and Casada’s homes Friday.
The director of Legislative Administration for the Tennessee General Assembly emailed the Investigators a list of three House employees who were placed on paid administrative leave until further notice. The employees are Sexton’s interim Chief of Staff Holt Whitt, Rep. Kent Calfee’s legislative assistant Nadine Korby and Casada’s legislative assistant Carol Simpson.
“Personally‚ these are our friends and colleagues of ours that we worked with for many years,” said Sexton. “It’s important to remember that this is just the start of the investigation and the process and not the end. Today does not necessarily imply guilt.”
The 2021 legislative session begins Tuesday. Sexton said the General Assembly will convene, members will be sworn in and business as usual will continue at the capitol.
The WMC Action News 5 Investigators asked if any Memphis-area lawmakers have been implicated in this investigation. We were told, based on current information, they are not.