After facing confrontation with social activist Justin Jones, House Speaker Glen Casada’s chief of staff Cade Cothren has taken steps to take Jones down. Cothren framed the Vanderbilt divinity student, falsely asserting that he violated a no-contact order by sending an email to the Speaker’s office.
Jones has emerged as a local civil rights hero. He has clashed with Speaker Casada on multiple occasions for speaking out on issues related to Tennessee’s strict voter ID laws and has advocated for the removal of a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest—the founder of the Ku Klux Klan—which still stands at the state Capitol.
After a cup of coffee was thrown into an elevator in February, reportedly landing on Speaker Casada, Jones was arrested and charged with assault. After he was released on bond, Jones was told he could have no contact with the Speaker’s office.
That’s when Cade Cothren reportedly stepped in to stage evidence at Jones’ expense. Cothren contacted prosecutors, claiming that Jones violated the no-contact order by sending an email to Casada.
According to Cothren, Jones sent the email in question on March 1, one day after the no-contact order began. However, Jones has come forward with evidence of his own, confirming that he sent the email on Feb. 25, before he was arrested.
While Cothren maintains that his supposed email evidence has not been tampered with, questions regarding the chief of staff’s motives and loyalties have recently emerged.
Cothren was exposed as possibly racist earlier this week after text messaged screenshots revealed him saying to Casada, “Black people are idiots,” referring to Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota as a “thug ni*gger,” and using memes from Quentin Tarantino’s slave-era film Django: Unchained to refer to an entire Tennessee district.
While officials are now calling the conflicting dates a glitch, District Attorney Glenn Funk seemed unconvinced about the chief of staff’s innocence. Funk has requested a special prosecutor to take an especially close look at the case.