September 24, 2023

Tennessee’s former House Speaker Glen Casada and his top aide were arrested Tuesday on federal charges including bribery, kickbacks and conspiracy to commit money laundering involving federal funds.

Their indictments come months after a Republican legislator, Rep. Robin Smith, abruptly resigned while facing federal wire charges that involved Casada. Casada, also a Republican, was not directly named in those court documents, but her March indictment kicked off speculation that more charges would come from the corruption investigation.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Casada and former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren face a 20-count indictment. FBI agents arrested both at their homes Tuesday morning.

Tennessee House Speaker Indicted
Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, top center, is sworn in with other members on the first day of the legislative session Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn.

Mark Humphrey / AP

The charging document alleges Casada and Cothren exploited their positions of power by working with another unnamed lawmaker to funnel money to themselves using a political consulting firm that concealed their involvement.

The indictment alleges that the conspirators told members of the Tennessee General Assembly that Phoenix Solutions,

Casada’s political consulting business was run by an experienced political consultant named “Matthew Phoenix.”

“In fact, Cothren operated Phoenix Solutions, and Casada, Cothren, and the other conspirator allegedly knew that ‘Matthew Phoenix’ was a fictitious person and secretly profited from the fraudulent venture,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

If convicted, the 63-year-old Casada and the 35-year-old Cothren each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for certain individual counts. Casada resigned from the state House in 2019.

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