Former House Speaker Glen Casada, his former aide Cade Cothren and several others will be subpoenaed as part of a reopened audit of a political action committee, state ethics and campaign finance officials decided Thursday.
Members of the Registry of Election Finance voted to reopen an audit of the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC after the PAC’s treasurer stated under oath that she opened the PAC at Cothren’s request, but had no further involvement in its operations.
The registry voted to issue subpoenas for information related to the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC to Cothren, Casada, and multiple others who may have knowledge of the PAC, including:
Rep. Todd Warner, R-Chapel Hill
Rep. Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro
Former Rep. Rick Tillis, who Warner unseated in the August 2020 Republican primary
Carol Simpson, Casada’s longtime assistant
The Registry may issue additional subpoenas to other individuals in the future.
The subpoenas will include any and all records, correspondence and electronic communications of all kinds by and between the subpoenaed individuals. Members of the board emphasized the subpoenas do not indicate judgment and intend only to gather information.
The Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC reportedly paid for attack advertisements against Tillis, though it never disclosed any money raised or spent on campaign finance disclosures, NewsChannel 5 previously reported.
The subpoenas come as other investigations into the lawmakers continue.
In early 2021, FBI agents descended on the Cordell Hull legislative office building, in additional to visiting the homes of Casada, Warner, Cothren and other state lawmakers as part of a federal investigation.
The federal probe appears to be focused at least in part on campaign finances.
The Tennessean previously reported that three of the lawmakers who had their offices searched, including Casada, spent tens of tens of thousands of campaign dollars with little-known companies.
Casada said in a text message Thursday that he is “in no way involved” with the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC.
“I do not know why I am named as having any knowledge or involvement with this pac as I have none,” he said.
Registry officials said Casada was being subpoenaed because he was Cothren ‘s former boss. The Williamson County lawmaker said he doesn’t know how Cothren’s employment on his staff is related to the PAC and the 2020 elections.
Cothren did not return a message seeking comment.
Utah resident Sydney Friedopfer, who is listed as the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC’s treasurer, told the board under oath Thursday that she opened the PAC and agreed to be its treasurer at the end of 2019 or early 2020 at Cothren’s request, without understanding how PACs function.
Friedopfer said Cothren assured her that “none of this was illegal.”
After she signed her name to open the PAC, “that was the last I heard of it,” Friedopfer said.
She said she was not aware of any expenditures, filings or disbursements until she began receiving phone calls from reporters several months later.
Friedopfer said she first heard from the Bureau of Campaign Finance when General Counsel Lauren Topping contacted Friedopfer about a month ago.
The bureau’s executive director, Bill Young, said he at one point exchanged emails with someone claiming to be Friedopfer through an email connected to the Faith Family Freedom Fund PAC. Friedopfer said she had no knowledge of the email address’ existence and had never accessed it.
The Registry intends to set a special meeting regarding the case in the future.
Reach reporter Cassandra Stephenson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Campaign finance panel to subpoena Rep. Glen Casada, former top aide