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Embattled Tennessee speaker faces election complaint

In this May 1, 2019, photo, House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, stands at the microphone during a House session in Nashville, Tenn. House Republicans have scheduled a closed-door meeting to discuss the future of Tennessee's embattled House speaker. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s embattled House speaker is now being accused of violating the state’s election laws after spending the past two weeks facing a long list of other scandals surrounding his office.

Social media advertisements paid for by Republican Speaker Glen Casada’s political action committee during the 2018 election failed to disclose who paid for them, according to a complaint filed with the Nashville district attorney’s office Wednesday.

The allegations come as Casada has been the center of several growing scandals for more than a week, including one involving recently revealed texts he exchanged years ago with his former chief of staff containing lewd remarks about women. He has also fielded a question on whether Cothren tampered with evidence involving a young black activist’s criminal case.

This latest development revolves around Casada’s PAC — known as CAS-PAC — and social media posts the PAC paid a political consultant to create and distribute.

The complaint was submitted by Enough is Enough Tennessee, a separate PAC dedicated to unseating Rep. David Byrd — a Republican lawmaker who has been accused by three women of sexual misconduct nearly three decades ago. Two women have said Byrd inappropriately touched them. The third has said Byrd tried to.

Byrd has not outright denied the allegations since they were first broadcast in a media report nearly a year ago, but has said he’s truly sorry if he hurt or emotionally upset any of his students.

Enough is Enough specified two ads posted on Facebook defending Byrd that it says failed to properly state they were affiliated with a PAC. The social media posts accused Byrd of being attacked by “socialist radical Democrats” and asked the public to stand with Byrd as he sought re-election.

According to the complaint, state law requires any advertisements post a disclosure “within the communication” itself and that the requirement applies even on social media.

Byrd was eventually re-elected to another term and was briefly appointed by Casada to an education legislative panel. However, after multiple protests and outcries from victim’s advocates, Casada removed Byrd from him from the leadership position.

Casada called the complaint “frivolous” and denied any wrongdoing.

“Facebook’s rules require disclaimers for all political advertising and the CAS-PAC digital team has adhered to all requirements,” Casada said in a statement. “Facebook disallows any advertising that does not include a disclaimer.”

The District Attorney’s office has not commented on the complaint.

“Glen Casada and his associates are not above the law. He used his power to support Rep. Byrd, who three different women say molested them when they were children, and now we have learned Casada’s PAC violated the law to do it,” said Emily Tseffos, treasurer for Enough is Enough, in a statement.

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