Governor Bill Lee says he’s prepared to call a special session if House Speaker Glen Casada doesn’t resign.
Gov. Lee released a statement after the House Caucus held a “no confidence” vote Monday.
“Today House Republicans sent a clear message, and I’m prepared to call a special session if the Speaker doesn’t resign.”
The Tennessee House Republican Caucus voted 45-24 Monday for a “no confidence” resolution for House Speaker Glen Casada.
Caucus Chairman Rep. Cameron Sexton said while the resolution speaks volumes about how the caucus feels about Speaker Casada, the resolution is non-binding, which means Casada will remain speaker.
“The speaker is elected by the general assembly, not by the Republican Caucus. Anything that the caucus did would be non-binding as far as the speaker remaining speaker,” said Sexton.
House Majority Leader Rep. William Lamberth said Casada was present during the meeting and answered questions from the Caucus.
Lamberth said that before Casada left, the speaker said the vote “definitely gave him something to consider” and “that over the next few months he would try everything he could to regain their confidence.”
“I think what changed today is that you now know how a majority of the members of the Republican Caucus feel about the allegations that have been made,” said Lamberth.
Speaker Casada released a statement after the vote:
I’m disappointed in the results of today’s caucus vote. However, I will work the next few months to regain the confidence of my colleagues so we can continue to build on the historic conservative accomplishments of this legislative session.
The Tennessee Republican Party released a statement and called on Casada to resign.
The events and actions surrounding Speaker Casada have been a distraction from the great accomplishments of this Legislature and Governor Bill Lee. Our Republican leadership in the legislature took the right course of action by calling today’s meeting. The vote of no confidence by the Republican caucus sends a clear message; it is time for the Speaker to heed the advice of the majority of his fellow legislators and step down from his position of leadership and allow someone else to begin the process of restoring the trust of all Tennesseans.
Rep. Lamberth released his own statement calling for a resignation:
Today the House Republican Caucus met and sent a strong message that we have lost confidence in Speaker Glen Casada. I have waited until now to make a statement on my personal position on this matter to allow the Caucus time to meet and deliberate. After today’s vote, it is time for the Speaker to resign, and I hereby request Governor Lee call a special session by the end of June for the House to choose a new Speaker.
The meeting took three hours and all caucus members were required to leave their cell phones in the back of the room.
Rep. Casada has been under scrutiny since his former chief of staff Cade Cothren allegedly sent racist and sexist text messages three years ago.
The speaker admits responding to a few of the sexist texts.
He has also been criticized for trying to influence a House Ethics Committee report on his handling of Cothren’s resignation earlier this month but denies any meddling.
Unless Rep. Casada resigns, most constitutional observers believe there is no provision to remove the speaker until his two-year term is up in 2021.