Former Rep. Robin Smith could be key witness in case against ex-Tennessee speaker Casada and aide Cothren

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / From left, Jennie Landreth, Development Coordinator for Choices talks with Tennessee State Representative Robin Smith. The first annual "March for Life" in Chattanooga, rally against abortion by Greater Chattanooga Right to Life, was held on January 22, 2022. The route was from Coolidge Park across the Walnut Street Bridge, to the Market Street Bridge and ending at Coolidge Park.

NASHVILLE -- As a former Tennessee House speaker and his one-time top aide stood in a federal courtroom last week to enter not-guilty pleas to 20 counts of criminal bribery and conspiracy-related charges, another defendant who has already admitted her guilt and is now cooperating with the FBI and prosecutors was miles away.

That would be former Rep. Robin Smith. The Hixson Republican pleaded guilty in March to a single count of honest services wire fraud in an alleged bribery and kickback conspiracy involving Smith, former Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and ex-Casada chief of staff Cade Cothren.

As part of her plea agreement, Smith is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Several attorneys not involved in the case, but knowledgable about criminal investigations, view Smith as a valuable witness for federal prosecutors. Cooperation is equally valuable to Smith, a former Tennessee Republican Party chairwoman and political consultant who could see her criminal penalties reduced if she truthfully and fully cooperates, the attorneys said.