Federal authorities raided multiple state Republican legislative offices and a home Friday morning, including former House Speaker Glen Casada's (R-Franklin) office.
Investigators were also seen walking out of Casada's home with boxes on Friday. Federal authorities also raided the offices of representatives Robin Smith (R-Hixson), Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill) and Casada's former Chief of Staff, Cade Cothren.
Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton spoke publicly Friday afternoon, saying the raid was part of an ongoing investigation related to the former Speaker and that those being investigated had been placed on administrative leave.
According to Connie Ridley, who is the Legislative Administration Director for the General Assembly, the following staff had been put on paid administrative leave:
- Holt Whitt, the interim chief of staff to Speaker Sexton
- Nadine Korby, Legislative Asst. to Kent Calfee
- Carol Simpson, Legislative Asst. to Casada
"On a personal note: This has been a trying week for our country, and this will be a difficult time for our state as we go down this road. Personally, these are the friends and colleagues we’ve worked with for many years,” Sexton said.
Casada served as Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives from January through August 2019. He and Cothren stepped down amid a scandal involving racist and sexist text messages as well as additional allegations of misconduct.
Gov. Bill Lee told reporters that he was aware of the FBI raids and that it was very concerning.
"I know very little about that," he said. "There's been no FBI outreach to us, but I have confidence Speaker Sexton is on top of the situation and we'll learn more as it unfolds."
Sexton said Friday's raids were only the "start," saying he would remain as transparent as the investigation allowed and encourage his colleagues in the House to cooperate with federal authorities.
As of the time Sexton spoke, no arrests or indictments had been made -- and he could not comment on what precisely prompted the raid, referring those questions to federal authorities. He said he had been working with authorities since Casada stepped down and he became Speaker in August 2019.
“Since becoming Speaker, I have been contacted by federal authorities regarding an ongoing investigation related to the former speaker’s office. I have been, and I will continue to be in full cooperation with the authorities as their investigation continues," he said. "On the advice of both Ethics and Legal Counsel, I am placing everyone that was subject to the execution of today’s search warrants on administrative leave until further notice.”