NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Representative Robin Smith has resigned from the Tennessee House of Representatives, effective immediately, amid allegations of wire fraud.
Rep. Smith announced her resignation Monday. Neither she nor her attorney, Ben Rose, offered any additional comments. She was first elected in 2018 to serve District 26, which includes a portion of Hamilton County.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton released a statement, which reads:
“More than a year ago, federal authorities started an investigation into public corruption. Today’s news and the ultimate resignation of Rep. Smith is a sad day for all who know her. I commend the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their diligence, hard work, and dedication throughout this investigation. It is clear in the charging documents that certain individuals used their official capacity to target General Assembly members and the Republican Caucus by using a fake company to siphon off money illegally and deceptively. I will continue to cooperate fully with federal authorities as the investigation continues which has been the case since I became speaker in 2019. Due to this being an ongoing investigation, I will reserve any further comments as the FBI continues their pursuit to stop public corruption.”Speaker Cameron Sexton
Federal paperwork filed Friday in the U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee charged Smith with wire fraud and scheming to defraud the citizens of Tennessee. Court documents alleged Smith offered mail and consulting services to other representatives, ran by someone who did not exist, AKA “Matthew Phoenix.”
Former House Speaker Glen Casada and his former chief of staff Cade Cothren are referenced in the paperwork with Cothren alleged to have been acting as the fictitious “Matthew Phoenix.”
Casada is referenced as “Individual 1” and Cothren is “Individual 2” throughout the paperwork, which alleges both were profiting from Phoenix Solutions’ earnings, along with Smith.
The homes of state lawmakers and legislative offices were searched by federal agents in January 2021, including Rep. Smith’s. The legislative offices of Casada, Kent Calfe and Todd Warner were also searched.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation confiscated files and documents and three legislative staff members were placed on paid administrative leave.
Cothren stepped down from his position as Casada’s chief of staff after he allegedly sent racist and sexually explicit text messages between 2014-2016. Cothren admitted to drug use during that time and claimed he was seeking help.
Smith faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and maximum fine of $250,000.