On Friday, FBI agents raided the offices and homes of several current Republican members of Tennessee’s state legislature. It’s unclear what exact activity that the FBI is investigating, but agents were clearly determined to obtain the potential evidence that they were after while at the Tennessee state capitol on Friday. According to the Tennessean, staff members “were seen using a drill to help agents unlock a desk” in the office of state Rep. Kent Calfee. The agents also targeted offices and homes belonging to Reps. Robin Smith and Todd Warner along with ex-Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, who’s still in office as a Representative, ensnaring a total of four current state legislators in the operation.
FBI agents raided the homes of former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and other Republican allies early Friday morning as part of an unspecified corruption probe. https://t.co/rPO7aWYOOA
— NewsChannel 5 (@NC5) January 8, 2021
Early Friday morning, at least 10 FBI agents arrived at the Cordell Hull legislative office building in Nashville, the Tennessean reports. Tennessee state House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) said after the raids unfolded that he was placing “everyone that was subject to the execution of today’s search warrants on administrative leave until further notice,” adding that he has “been, and… will continue to be in full cooperation with the authorities as their investigation continues.” One of those targeted staff members is Sexton’s own chief of staff, Holt Whitt, who was a holdover from Casada’s time as Speaker and whose home FBI agents also visited. Casada, for his part, stepped down from the position of Tennessee state House Speaker amidst a scandal over racist and sexist text messages.
FBI this morning also searched the homes of former House Speaker Glen Casada, Rep. Robin Smith, freshman Rep. Todd Warner and two current and former legislative staffers. https://t.co/0YoxVsPJG0
— Natalie Allison (@natalie_allison) January 8, 2021
Casada, Smith, and Warner were among those whose homes were searched, while agents also targeted the offices of Casada, Smith, and Calfree — the latter of whom said that he “didn’t have a clue” about the FBI raid of his office when asked about the issue. Besides Whitt, legislative assistants Carol Simpson and Nadine Korby were also apparently subject to the search warrants and subsequently placed on administrative leave by Sexton.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) called the raids “certainly very concerning,” commenting as follows:
‘I’ve spoken with Speaker Sexton this morning and I’m aware of the FBI raids. It’s certainly very concerning. I know very little about that. There’s been no FBI outreach to us, but I have confidence that Speaker Sexton’s on top of the situation and we’ll learn more as this unfolds.’
🚨🚨🚨 FBI agents search offices of multiple Tennessee Republicans at capitol https://t.co/AeKyfRpRPB
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) January 8, 2021
This situation is not the first recent occasion on which state Republicans have been subject to federal investigative efforts. Late last year, a report from the Associated Press stated that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) had been under FBI investigation for allegedly using his position to benefit a political donor. Paxton went on to help lead a prominent Trump-allied court case against the election outcome, unsuccessfully asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the results in four states where President-elect Joe Biden won.