Cade Cothren, a top aide to former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, failed to appear before state ethics and campaign finance officials on Wednesday, as they continued their audit of questionable activities by a political action committee.
In January, members of the Election Finances Registry reopened an audit of the Faith Family Freedom Fund’s PAC after the PAC’s treasurer said under oath that she opened the PAC at Cothren’s request but did not was more involved in its operations.
The Registry voted to issue subpoenas for information related to the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC to Cothren, Casada, and several others who may have known about the PAC, including:
- Representative Todd Warner, R-Chapel Hill
- Representative Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro
- Former Rep. Rick Tillis, whom Warner ousted in the August 2020 Republican primary
- Carol Simpson, Casada’s longtime assistant
Cothren’s attorney opposed the subpoena and said his client had invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to a letter sent to counsel.
Cothren did not appear before the board on Wednesday. The council referred enforcement of the subpoena to the office of Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press first reported the letter to the board.
Continued:Campaign finance committee subpoenas Rep. Glen Casada, former senior assistant in the PAC audit
Casada appeared before the commission and criticized its decision to issue subpoenas.
“It allowed the media to assume the worst and judge me,” said Casada, R-Franklin. “Call us first, then if we don’t come, assign us.”
Henry Fincher, the House Democratic Caucus member named to the electoral register, said in response that subpoenas were not the council’s first option, but reflected the seriousness of the allegations.
The subpoenas come as other investigations into lawmakers continue.
In early 2021, FBI agents raided the offices of several lawmakers at the Cordell Hull Legislative Building, in addition to visiting the homes of Casada, Warner, Cothren and others as part of a federal investigation.
Utah resident Sydney Friedopfer, who is listed as the treasurer of the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC, told the board under oath in January that she had opened the PAC and agreed to serve as its treasurer in late 2019 or early 2020. at Cothren’s request, without understanding how PAC function.
In 2019, Cothren lost his job at Casada following a scandal involving racist and sexist text messages and admitted to using illegal drugs in the legislative office building.
Casada resigned from his leadership role in 2019 following the scandal, but he remains in the state legislature. Casada does not plan to run for re-election in 2022, but is instead running for Williamson County Clerk.
Journalist Cassandra Stephenson contributed to this report.
Adam Friedman is the political and government reporter for the state of Tennessean. Contact him by email at [email protected]
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