NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) — House Speaker Cameron Sexton is trying to play down subpoenas received by him, House Republican caucus members and staff. It comes as the federal investigation into a legislative kickback scheme kicks into high gear.
Federal investigators are investigating Republican lawmakers over a fictitious company known as “Phoenix Solutions” allegedly headed by Cade Cothren, a top aide to then-House Speaker Glen Casada.
Cothren, Casada and former Rep. Robin Smith are accused of personally benefiting from shippers’ funds.
While taxpayers want more answers to who all received subpoenas, Speaker Sexton said it’s not his job to answer that question. “I don’t know everyone who has been subpoenaed, you all report it, it’s in the papers who you all identified, it’s not my job to tell you who has been subpoenaed,” Sexton said.
News 2 attempted to dig deeper into Sexton about multiple ongoing federal investigations — which indicate Tennesseans were defrauded — but the speaker avoided answering whether the public should still trust state lawmakers.
“Well, as you know, being subpoenaed doesn’t mean you’re guilty of anything. I hope you know the law and you know that witnesses do it in front of the grand jury too and to suggest otherwise, which you tried to do, is just plain wrong,” Sexton told News 2.
Sexton will also have to testify under oath. Democrats say president can’t play down number of Republicans involved in federal probe
“I think if you ask anyone what’s going on in their workplace, a dozen grand jury subpoenas in a criminal investigation is no ordinary day,” the senator said. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville).
But as lawmakers continue to vote and pass laws, the public is unclear exactly who is involved.
“You know, if you’re cooperating, you don’t need a subpoena. You come freely to give your offer to the federal investigators, they don’t have to force you in. That being said, take it for what it’s worth,” Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville) said.
While Governor Bill Lee’s office says no one from their office has received a subpoena, Director of Legislative Administration Connie Ridley and Rep. Bud Husley are among those who confirmed their subpoenas. .
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