Updated Wednesday 2 p.m.
In a statement Tuesday morning, House Speaker Glen Casada said he plans to resign as speaker, following weeks of controversy surrounding his office.
“When I return to town on June 3," he said, "I will meet with Caucus leadership to determine the best date for me to resign as speaker so that I can help facilitate a smooth transition.”
The message came from Holt Whitt, director of legislation for the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Casada reaches peace with decision
When the Herald reached out for comment, Casada said he is "at peace" with his decision.
"God has given me peace on the caucus decision," he said. "I have lost their confidence and when this happens, no one can lead properly. I will work with the leadership to arrange the best date to make my resignation and plan for a smooth transition to the new speaker."
When asked if he would continue to lead as House representative in the 63rd District, Casada responded, "Yes."
Gov. Bill Lee said Casada made the right decision.
“Speaker Casada has made the right decision, and I look forward to working with the legislature to get back to conducting the people's business and focusing on the issues that matter most to our state," Lee said Tuesday.
Republican House Caucus members began calling for Casada to step down when sexually explicit text messages surfaced, showing that Casada had made lewd comments about women, during a text conversation with his former Chief of Staff Cade Cothren in 2016.
On Monday, the House Republican Caucus met to cast a "vote of confidence" either for or against Casada. To Casada's demise, the caucus voted 45-24 in favor of a resolution, declaring that the caucus had "no confidence" in his ability to further lead the House.
The House Republican Caucus is comprised of 73 members.
Momentum behind the push for Casada to step down as speaker reached a crescendo Monday when House Majority Leader William Lamberth announced he would request that the governor call a special session of the House to choose a new speaker.
Soon after Lambert's remarks, Lee agreed to call a special session if Casada did not resign.
“Today, the House Republican Caucus met and sent a strong message that we have lost confidence in Speaker Glen Casada," Lamberth said. "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.”
Coinciding with Lambert's announcement, Lee said he was prepared to do just that.
“Today, House Republicans sent a clear message, and I’m prepared to call a special session if the speaker doesn’t resign,” Lee said.
Talk to remove Casada as representative lacks momentum
Later according to some media reports, Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, has spoken out this week about his desire to remove Casada from his House seat, though Whitson confirmed that he has not received, as of press time, any letter, petition or paperwork requesting members of the House to take such action.
“The first thing we need to do is to get Rep. Casada to resign as House speaker,” Whitson said.
“Anything that diverts us from that concerns me.”
However, Whitson said there is some debate over Article 2, Section 3 of the Tennessee State Constitution, which some interpret to mean that one does not have to be a member of the House to hold the position of House speaker, though the law has never been challenged.
“Removing him from his House seat, does not remove him from being House speaker,” Whitson said.
“People need to be careful and thoughtful on this. They need to be focused on that task at hand and make sure he follows through, which I know he will, before we do anything else.”
However, Whitson said he does not see momentum among House members to remove Casada from his seat as House representative in the 63rdDistrict.
“From the members I have talked to, I don’t think there is a move to push him from his seat,” he said.
“Let’s don’t kick the man while he is down.”
Controversy in office of House speaker
Amid the controversy, Cothren also resigned earlier this month.
His resignation was spurned by allegations that he allegedly altered the date of an email that would have implicated activist Justin Jones as being in violation of a court order. Cothren also admitted to using illegal drugs in his legislative office, and a racist text message was uncovered, showing that Cothren used disparaging language toward African-Americans.
Although Casada stood by Cothren's innocence concerning the email and supported Cothren in turning his life around over the past several years, he ultimately agreed that Cothren should resign.
Casada said he was just as surprised at Cothren's language as anyone when the reports came out, but when a text message conversation, as reported by The Tennesseean on May 7, showed that Casada participated with Cothren in sexual language aimed toward women, he could not then escape the scrutiny from his peers and many constituents.