Roy Exum: Casada Doesn’t Get It

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

George Lucas, the billionaire movie-maker who gave us ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones,’ said it this way, “The story being told in 'Star Wars' is a classic one. Every few hundred years, the story is retold because we have a tendency to do the same things over and over again. Power corrupts, and when you're in charge, you start doing things that you think are right, but they're actually not.”

In the case of the fallen Tennessee legislator Glen Casada, I can’t imagine anything closer to the truth.  Casada, the Franklin, Tn., lawmaker who, in his ascent to become Tennessee’s Speaker of the House this January, stepped on enough fingers in his climb to assure he will rise no more. After being exposed for ‘who’ he is, and just receiving a 45-24 no-confidence bashing for ‘what’ he is, this pretender has yet to acknowledge that ‘it’ is -- all over.

Casada, still so taken with himself he cannot accept he is no longer king, issued a condescending statement Tuesday that he will relinquish his lofty Speaker’s role when he returns from a European vacation. “When I return to town on June 3rd, I will meet with (the Republican) caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as speaker so that I can facilitate a smooth transition."

According to a growing number of doubters, the only thing Casada will facilitate will be the parade of used whiskey boxes carrying his belongings out the door. The great majority of the Republican leadership in Nashville (if ‘leadership’ isn’t too strong a word) and the entire Democratic caucus is expected to remove Casada completely from the Legislature in coming weeks.

“I think it would be difficult to work with him after you voted (for) no-confidence and it could fractionalize the Republican Caucus." said Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), while Lt. Gov. Randy McNally told reporters, "I am hopeful Speaker Casada will put the legislature, the party and the state first and heed the call of his colleagues.”

Casada’s arrogance is certain to infuriate other legislators who do not have a state trooper as an assigned driver, access to state-owned aircraft (the guy actually flew from Nashville to Chattanooga), or an office that calls for $7 million more than the past Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell.

The Nashville Tennessean reported it strange that Casada had ‘white noise’ equipment installed around his office to elude eavesdroppers and that some rooms in the State Capitol had hidden “bugs” so that Casada or members of his staff could “keep up with all that’s going on.”

Rep. Carter will be the first to say there is, indeed, a lot going on. "My concern with the (ethics) meeting is that it shows a heart for misrepresentation and political maneuvering to save the requestor’s office even at a loss of reputation and integrity of the House Ethics Committee," Carter said. "I could argue that the text messages are disqualifying," Carter said.

"I could argue that knowing and failing to report felony criminal conduct in his presence is disqualifying. I could argue that spending $7 million to operate his office more than Speaker Beth Harwell is disqualifying, but respectfully I state that attempting to pre-determine an opinion from the Ethics Committee is the final straw for me."

To little surprise, Carter asked the legal team in the State Capitol to prepare materials for a special session that would include Casada must vacate his seat in the legislature as well as the Speaker of the House. It is obvious his constituents in Williamson County are not happy with his behavior. "In his current role, Glen Casada still represents both his district and Tennesseans as a whole," Heather Cornett told the Nashville Tennessean.

"This sense of entitlement is a symptom of a disease that seems to have infected our national politics. We have traditionally held our elected representatives to a higher standard than the average person. By running for office, you are asking for the privilege of representing the best interests of every citizen in your district," Ms. Cornett said.

"Allowing representatives like Glen Canada to remain in office sends a message that women and people of color are not deserving of the respect, protection and representation that they are promised under the Constitution."

Cathy Caudhill, another who votes in Casada’s district, and wants him to move to another state, said, "I want nothing to do with him. He should resign from his House seat too. He doesn’t represent me or many of the people I know in his district. He has never responded to any questions or communications I have sent his office. He needs to just leave Tennessee, Williamson County and Franklin politics."

Alicia Marshall, who operates a business in Williamson County, says the sooner the better. “As a homeowner running a small business here, I feel strongly about the need for Glen Casada to resign immediately," and she includes the legislature seat as well. "The longer he stays in office, the more damage he does to our local government. We deserve to be represented by someone with integrity and respect for his constituents. Casada has shown neither. It’s time for him to go."

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