Bill Lee wants public confidence 'fully restored' after Casada text message scandal

In this April 25, 2019, file photo, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee talks to reporters at the Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. More than half of Lee's newly appointed cabinet members, including his education czar and Tennessee's Medicaid chief, didn't submit applications or provide any documents outlining why they deserved the jobs he gave them. The Associated Press reviewed all applications submitted to Lee's office during his transition into the top statewide position. This included submissions for both cabinet spots and lower level jobs inside the executive branch. (AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi, File)

NASHVILLE - In their first public comments on the text messaging scandal that has rocked Tennessee Republican House Speaker Glen Casada and led to the resignation of the speaker's chief of staff, Republican Gov. Bill Lee and Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally weighed in Tuesday shortly before a previously scheduled joint appearance in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

"When we choose to enter public service, we have an obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard and cultivate an environment of professionalism and respect," said Lee, who earlier was challenged by House Democrats to speak out on the texts between Casada and former aide Cade Cothren in which Cothren boasted about sex, made racist comments and discussed his illicit drug use.

Lee also said in his statement that "we owe it to Tennesseans to ensure they know that all of us in elected office hold ourselves to that high standard.