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Filed from the steps of the Capitol
Nashville, TN

Tennessee Waltz - Glen Casada Edition 

  • What a way to start 2021.
  • Just when we thought the legislative session might begin with a sense of normalcy, on January 8th at least five FBI agents raided the offices and homes of Rep. Glen Casada, Rep. Robin Smith, Rep. Todd Warner, Rep. Kent Calfee, Holt Whitt (Interim Chief of Staff to Speaker Cam Sexton and former Casada aide), Carol Simpson (Rep. Casada Legislative Assistant), and Nadine Korby (Rep. Kent Calfee Legislative Assistant). 
  • The legislature is no stranger to the FBI - it was just two years ago that the FBI was investigating then Speaker Glen Casada over Governor Bill Lee’s infamous pro-voucher ESA bill. 
  • This time, it appears that the FBI caught Rep. Casada with his pants down. Literally. 
  • The FBI investigation stems from the campaign to defeat Rep. Rick Tillis of @chbmole fame. 
  • According to reports, Rep. Casada may have used a PAC called the Faith Freedom Family Fund to unleash a mountain of negative digital ads and mail pieces hitting Rep. Rick Tillis who eventually went on to lose that race to now-Rep. Todd Warner. 
  • Spending in that race has come under fire as it appears Rep. Casada and Rep. Todd Warner spent nearly $200k through a combination of Phoenix Solutions, Bullet Proof Research and Dixieland Strategies. 

A Phoenix Rising From Cocaine Laced Ashes 

  • Cade Cothren, everybody’s favorite cocaine cowboy, appears to be one of the key individuals implicated in the FBI investigation. 
  • Phoenix Solutions, according to the Tennessean, is allegedly tied to Cade Cothen, but it remains unclear in what capacity. 
  • Rep. Robin Smith has pushed this firm to other colleagues in the legislature and used them extensively in her own re-election campaign. 
  • Rep. Smith has claimed she is 100% innocent and would have “volunteered” to meet with the FBI, had they just given her a call. 


The Blowback

  • It’s a tough day to be Holt Whitt
  • The result of this investigation may be that he never gets to remove the “interim” part of title. 
  • Keep an eye on Kevin Johnson, the General Counsel to Speaker Cam Sexton. 
  • We hear he was already working to be the Speaker's next Chief of Staff. 
  • We are lucky that one leader is taking a strong stance against this malfeasance. 
  • Lt. Governor McNally didn’t mince his words - if any of the members end up getting arrested, he believes they should resign

Our Take

  • Speaker Cam Sexton knew about this the entire time and has handled this like a consummate professional. 
  • People hate politicians because they believe politicians don’t play by the same rules as everybody else. 
  • Speaker Sexton has rejected this premise and isn’t giving special treatment to his staffers or members. 
  • We still have a lot of questions and are looking for answers. 
    • Who all is involved and what is their involvement? 
    • Why would members risk their careers for petty revenge? 
    • Why are members using shady outside groups to funnel money? 
    • Who is behind Phoenix Solutions and why does Rep. Robin Smith push them to other members? 
  • These are all important questions that deserve answers. 

Bob Corker For President? 

  • Speaking of senators, former Senator Bob Corker has been spending his retirement by subtweeting Sen. Blackburn and Sen. Hagerty about their certification backtrack and their role in perpetuating lies about voter fraud. 
  • Sen. Corker is now going on an “I Told You So” tour of TV and print while also looking at getting back in the political arena. 
  • Most political prognosticators are guessing he will likely make a play for Governor either in 2022 or 2026 but could also try to run for the White House. 
  • A rift is opening up in the Republican Party and leaders like Senator Bob Corker are looking to fill the void and rebuild the GOP. 
  • It would be nice to have adults in the room again.  

Bon Voyage 

  • We wanted to wish longtime lobbyist and former Representative Steve Bivens a happy retirement. 
  • It’s much deserved after a long and storied career in the halls of the Capitol. 
  • Steve Bivens had a great reputation in Nashville, known as one of the nicest people on the Hill. 
  • Will miss his smiling face, famous wave, and leadership in Nashville.

Top 10 Lobbyists 

  1. David McMahan (R) 
  2. Mandy Young (D)
  3. Rus Farrar (R) 
  4. Mike Bivens (D) 
  5. Anna Richardson (R) 
  6. Nathan Poss (D) 
  7. Gif Thorton (R) 
  8. Beth Winstead (D) 
  9. Mark Cate (R)
  10. Kim Adkins (D) 

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