Tennessee's shamed previous House Speaker Glen Casada and his top associate were captured Tuesday on government charges including pay off,.
payoffs and connivance to carry out illegal tax avoidance.
Their arraignments follow the sudden renunciation in March of Republican Rep. Robin Smith,
who confessed to government wire misrepresentation charges including Casada and his head of staff, Cade Cothren.,
Hypothesis has twirled about what extra charges could come in the debasement test.
The 20-count charging document alleges that Casada and Cothren used their positions of power to funnel money to themselves
using a political consulting firm—known as Phoenix Solutions, LLC—that concealed their involvement
A Justice Department news release alleges that Casada sought bribes from Cothren in exchange for approving Phoenix Solutions as a mailer program vendor.
FBI agents arrested Casada and Cothren at their homes Tuesday morning. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who succeeded his fellow Republican in the leadership post, testified before a grand jury in March.
Sexton thanked the FBI on Tuesday, promising that he will continue to assist in the investigation if needed. He also promised to cooperate as a potential witness.
The case also prompted lawmakers to pass tougher state campaign finance and ethics requirements this year.
Casada resigned as speaker in 2019 but held onto his seat after revelations that he and Cothren had exchanged sexually explicit text messages about women years earlier.
All three claimed the firm was run by a “Matthew Phoenix” when in fact it was a made-up alias for Cothren, and Casada knew the name was fictitious, the documents allege.