FBI investigation of Tennessee lawmakers appears to focus on obscure campaign activity

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) – Dark groups working behind the scenes to settle Republican scores – playing with money that cannot be traced.
This situation, first exposed by NewsChannel 5 survey, appears to be leading the FBI’s latest Capitol Hill corruption investigation.

On Friday, FBI agents carried boxes of evidence from the Tennessee Capitol. Among this evidence, NewsChannel 5 has learned, computers and other material potentially linked to a group of obscure campaign companies.

It was part of a series of early morning raids that began at the Franklin residence of former Tennessee House President Glen Casada.

RELATED: FBI executes search warrants against former Republican TN president Casada, other Republicans

Also targeted are two former Casada aides, as well as Hamilton County Republican Robin Smith and Marshall County newly elected Todd Warner.

Last summer, NewsChannel 5 first revealed how attack aid, intended for Lewisburg Representative Rick Tillis, was sent by an obscure group, the Faith Family Freedom Fund, which claimed it had neither collected nor spent money.

We found out that a Postal Permit number used for one of these mailers was the same one used by Todd Warner … who then defeated Tillis in the Republican primary.

RELATED: Anonymous Campaign Attack Targets Republican Lawmaker

“A lot of unaccounted for money has flowed into this race,” said Erik Schelzig, editor of the Tennessee Journal, a highly respected political bulletin. “No one really knows where it came from and who spent it. ”

Following NewsChannel 5’s report, Schelzig took a deep dive into the finances behind this grim campaign to oust Tillis, whom Glen Casada had targeted for defeat.

Casada supported Warner “who had spent over $ 120,000 of his own money, which surprised a lot of people there because he had just declared federal bankruptcy a few years ago because he was unable to pay 20 million dollars in debt, “Schelzig noted.

This postal permit number led to a little-known company called Phoenix Solutions in New Mexico. Phoenix Solutions has worked for a number of Republican candidates.

“Phoenix Solutions is a new player on the political scene in Tennessee and it is there that it is linked to Representative Robin Smith, who has pushed to use this provider since he took office,” added the editor of the Tennessee Journal.

After a NewsChannel 5 investigation led to Casada’s resignation as president in the summer of 2019, an audit of his election finances revealed expenses of $ 100,000 for which he had no receipt.

And NewsChannel 5 survey allegations uncovered of an alleged bribe Casada had offered to spend school vouchers – an allegation he denied.

Now there is this investigation.

“It looks like once they start lifting, peeling the onion,” Schelzig said, “you’re going to find a lot of things to take a closer look – a lot of which has to do with obscure fundraisers and activities that do not appear. above the edge at first glance. ”

As for Representative Kent Calfee, the Roane County Republican whose office was raided, Capitol sources tell NewsChannel 5 that the focus is on his assistant, not him. The assistant’s daughter is dating Casada’s former chief of staff, Cade Cothren.

An attorney for Todd Warner also sent the following statement:

“Representative Todd Warner is a successful little businessman, farmer and first-year lawmaker. Representative Warner and his family were shocked by the events of Friday morning January 8. Federal agents descended on Representative Warner’s home and business in Marshall County with search warrants, the contents of which remain shrouded in mystery by the government. Significantly, Representative Warner has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

“Representative Warner can assure the citizens of his district that he has not broken any laws and welcomes any investigation.

“Representative Warner’s goal now is to serve all citizens of his district, whether they voted for him or not, and he looks forward to being sworn in on Tuesday, January 12. “

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