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Thursday, May 09, 2019

Casada pressured to step down
Republican House Speaker Glen Casada on Wednesday tried to head off a rebellion among Republican lawmakers over a text-message scandal, apologizing in a telephone conference call during which some members called for him to resign from his speaker post. Casada has come under fire over several issues, including text exchanges with his former chief of staff Cade Cothren, who resigned earlier this week amid a furor over the revelation of racist and sexually explicit texts he sent to Casada from 2014 to 2016, as well as Cothren's admitted use of cocaine in his office. The lawmaker trying to restore confidence in his leadership promised to change, despite earlier having questioned whether some of the texts had been fabricated. In a statement, Casada said, "I apologize and hope that my friends, family, colleagues, and constituents find a way to forgive me for it, because it is not the person I am and it hasn't been the way I have conducted myself as Speaker." He previously dismissed the sex texts as "locker room talk," a phrase used by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the wake of the "Access Hollywood" tapes in which the president discussed having groped women. Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart has called for a federal criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney's office into news reports that the speaker's office may have conducted secret surveillance on meeting rooms and bugged some lawmakers' personal offices, a charge that Casada has denied. Four Republican lawmakers have publicly called on Casada to step down, among them Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Dunn of Knoxville, the chamber's most senior member who is a religious conservative.

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