Federal authorities have raided homes and offices of several Tennessee lawmakers, including the property of former state House Speaker Glen Casada, officials say.
The raid was to investigate the defeat of Republican North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis’s brother, Rick Tillis, in Tennessee.
Rick Tillis, brother of US Senator Thom Tillis, lost the August primary to Todd Warner, a local businessman. Tillis, once high in caucus leadership, was ousted after his anonymous Twitter account bashing his colleagues was outed to the public.
The Tenness Outlook reported at the time about the Twitter harassment by Tillis that forced him to step down from leadership:
“After facing scrutiny for his alleged role in an anonymous Twitter account that attacked his fellow Republicans, Rep. Rick Tillis has resigned from House leadership.
Rep. Jeremy Faison announced the move in an email obtained by The Tennessean sent to the 73-member House Republican Caucus on Aug. 30. Faison is the GOP caucus chairman.”
“Representative Rick Tillis alerted leadership today that he is stepping down as our Republican House Whip, effectively immediately,” Faison informed the caucus.
But the investigations are into ads:
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee confirmed the FBI visited the homes of state Reps. Robin Smith and Todd Warner, as well as a former aide to the former speaker, according to The Tennessean newspaper and Local24.
According to Fox News, “A federal law enforcement source tells FOX 17 News the investigation is into the laundering of campaign finance money toward a dark money company that ran ads against Todd Warner’s opponent Rick Tillis. Warner went on to beat Tillis in the Aug. 2020 election for Tennessee’s new District 92 House representative.”
The Tennessean reported:
“The FBI also searched the office of Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, though House Speaker Cameron Sexton said he understood that Calfee “is not part of the investigation.” Calfee’s legislative assistant, however, has been placed on administrative leave in connection with the inquiry.
Agents guarded offices in the Cordell Hull legislative office building and carted away boxes of evidence as part of their investigation. “
The raid happened on Friday:
“Since becoming speaker, I have been contacted by federal authorities regarding an ongoing investigation related to the former speaker’s office,” Sexton also said, according to CBS News. “On the advice of both Ethics and Legal Counsel, I am placing everyone that was subject to the execution of today’s search warrants on administrative leave until further notice.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee acknowledged the agents’ activity on Friday, describing the incidents as “raids.”
“I’ve spoken with Speaker Sexton this morning, and I’m aware of the FBI raids,” Lee said in a press conference. “It’s certainly very concerning. I know very little about that. There’s been no FBI outreach to us, but I am confident that Speaker Sexton is on top of this situation as it unfolds.”