June 27, 2019 (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini and Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Steewart issued separate statements in response to reports that Gov. Bill Lee has called a special session on August 23, 2019:
“After Casada embarrassed our state and disrespected our citizens, Bill Lee should’ve called for an immediate resignation like the majority of Tennesseans wanted. Instead, Lee has quietly allowed Casada to run the show and wield power freely. And now by calling a special session, he’s spending $41,000 Tennessee tax dollars just so Casada and his loyalists in the House Republican Caucus can try to undermine the Speaker Pro Tempore they elected for situations like this. This is more of the same rotten ethics that got us here in the first place,” Mancini said.
Chairman Mike Stewart today called the decision by the Governor to have a taxpayer funded legislative session on August 23rd a “joke” and a “continuation of a Republican scheme to cover their misdeeds.”
At a potential cost of around $40,000 a day, Rep. Stewart said, “It is ridiculous to waste taxpayer money because Republicans are uncertain of the person they elected to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore. Their election of Glen Casada was a disaster and now they want Tennesseans to pay as they try to figure out who gets to ride in a limousine for the next 4 months. There’s no logical reason why this election couldn’t be held in January when we come back into regular session. It’s a just a huge slap in the face to taxpayers. The fact that the Governor and other Republicans are working so hard to replace House Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Dunn raises serious concerns about whether this special session is only designed to block further investigations into Casada and his cronies.”
Additionally, now than Casada’s speakership is coming to an end, Republican leaders are now floating the idea of taking action against State Rep. David Byrd, an accused serial sexual abuser, after remaining silent on the issue for the entire legislative session. Republican House Majority Leader William Lamberth told The Tennessean that during the Aug. 23 special session, a vote to expel Byrd could “potentially be ripe to take up.”
“If sexual abuse is worthy of retribution now, why wasn’t it problematic enough to call for Casada to take action during the 2019 legislative session? This speaks volumes to the shortage of integrity and principle among Tennessee GOP leaders,” Mancini said. “This isn’t about politics. It’s only about basic decency. On the Byrd and Casada scandals, Democrats in the legislature are the only group that has consistently upheld the tradition of honorable and high-minded Tennessee statesmanship that every voter — Democrat, Republican, and Independent — expects from government.”