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Tennessee House Speaker's Chief of Staff Cade Cothren resigns

On Friday, House Speaker Glen Casada and Cothren responded with a joint statement explaining the racist text messages sent between Cothren and a former employee.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Cade Cothren, the Chief of Staff for House Speaker Glen Casada, announced his resignation Monday evening after a series of racist text messages from his past emerged.

On Friday, House Speaker Glen Casada and Cothren responded with a joint statement explaining the racist text messages sent between Cothren and a former employee.

"Nearly three years ago, Mr. Cothren approached me and confided in me that he was dealing with some personal issues and wanted to seek help after his struggles became apparent. Knowing these issues were impacting his ability to fulfill his job duties, Mr. Cothren sought counseling and forgiveness, and has been doing an outstanding job ever since," said Speaker Casada in the statement.

Cothren admitted to sending some of the texts.

"I do so [admit to texts] because they are part of a personal testimony that I am privileged to share, which is not lost on me. 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," said Cothren.

On Friday, Democratic leaders called on House Speaker Glen Casada to explain whether his staff sent racist text messages. They held a news conference saying the public is entitled to know if it really happened, who sent them and who received them.

Casada fought back in his statement, saying politics has become a game of "gotcha" with no thought of forgiveness or starting over.

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

State Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, said on Friday that he’s tired of all the excuses.

“These folks seem to have more technical glitches, it didn’t come through,” said Mitchell. “Either you’re racist or you’re not. Condone or condemn this.”

"Like so many young, egotistical men aspiring to a career in politics that came before me, moving up the career ladder was met with unrelenting stress, peer pressure, and unrealistic expectations," said Cothren in his apology, "I know that this is not an excuse. Nonetheless, I unfortunately turned to maladaptive coping mechanisms. However, I thank God for these experiences because they’ve allowed me a unique opportunity to witness to the young men who will come after me that actions have consequences."

A news report last week claimed a staffer, later identified as Cothren sent texts using the N-word and saying “black people are idiots.”

According to the Associated Press, Cothren's resignation also came Monday after he admitted to doing cocaine on the job inside a legislative office building when he held a different position.

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.