The Tennessee attorney general last week asked a local court to compel former political aide Cade Cothren to explain why he refused to obey subpoenas issued in a campaign finance probe earlier this year.
The court filing follows a Tennessee Registry of Election Finance investigation into Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and related political action committees, which the registry referred to Williamson County prosecutors in March.
Cothren, once Casada’s top aide before leaving state politics amid a racist and misogynistic texting scandal, was connected to the Faith Family Freedom Fund political action committee earlier this year after a former girlfriend dis she opened the PAC at his request.
More:Campaign finance panel to subpoena Rep. Glen Casada, former top aide in audit of PAC
The registry issued two subpoenas for Cothren during the investigation for documents and testimony related to the PAC. Cynthia Sherwood, Cothren’s attorney, called the subpoenas an “abuse of process” and stated her client would invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-inclusion.
In a Davidson County Chancery Court filing, Attorney General Herbert Slatery argued Cothren broadly misused the 5th Amendment privilege.
“In other words, Cothren must invoke his alleged privilege privilege in response to each individual question asked of him, not as a blanket shield from testifying or producing requested documents,” Slatery wrote.
Casada has denied connection to the PAC, though he appeared before the registry after he was subpoenaed earlier this year.
A week later, Casada ally then-Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, swiftly resigned from the General Assembly following a federal wire fraud charge. Smith has pleaded guilty to the charge, which implicated Casada and Cothren in a scheme to set up a shadowy consulting firm to gain state business.
Neither Casada nor Cothren has been charged in the case, though both were referred to Smith’s charging documents as Individuals 1 and 2. Cothren has not responded to repeated Tennessean requests for comment about the case and Casada has declined to comment.
More:Multiple Tennessee lawmakers and aides appear before grand jury amid federal investigation
Smith’s plea deal in the case indicates federal prosecutors will recommend a lesser sentence in exchange for her cooperation in an ongoing investigation, which involved a shrouded grand jury in late March.
Reach Melissa Brown at [email protected]
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