Two legislative staff members suspended since an FBI raid on the Cordell Hull Building in January 2021 are being fired, just days after Rep. Robin Smith resigned her post and pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Speaker Cameron Sexton confirmed Thursday the two employees who’ve been on suspension with pay for 14 months will no longer be employed: Nadine Korby, who worked in Rep. Kent Calfee’s office, and Carol Simpson, who worked for former House Speaker Glen Casada.
The charging document against Smith, a Hixson Republican and former state party chair, identified two others – the House speaker from January 2019 through August 2019 and his former chief of staff, Casada and Cade Cothren – as conspirators in the scheme in which they made more than $200,000 on the House Republican Caucus and House members’ taxpayer-funded mailers.
Smith, a member of the House Republican Caucus campaign finance team, and Casada pressured the caucus and members to use Phoenix Solutions for political work, a New Mexico-based company created by Cothren – with their knowledge – to make money on House Republicans and give them kickbacks.
A break in the case came when the House Speaker’s Office told Smith that Phoenix Solutions needed to file a W-9 form in order to keep doing work because of a new policy in which third-party vendors would be required to work directly with the Speaker’s Office, a change in policy for constituent mail.
Cothren then provided an IRS W-9 form with the signature “Matthew Phoenix” stating that he was an American citizen, according to Smith’s plea filing.
Connie Ridley, director of Legislative Administration, said Thursday a W-9 has always been required for anyone doing business with the Legislature.
Asked Thursday if the feds requested him to do that, (potentially an effort to fish Cothren out by getting him to sign a federal document illegally and transmit it by wire), Sexton declined to answer because of the ongoing investigation and referred reporters to the charging document.
“The facts of what they put in Robin Smith’s charging documents was that the policy was changed in June of 2020, and so we’ll stick with that, and as to the investigation, when it closes, then we’ll be able to answer those questions,” Sexton said.
The documents say that took place in January, but regardless of the month, Cothren bit.
Casada did not respond Thursday to a text message asking him if he is cooperating with federal prosecutors. Smith said in a statement after her guilty plea Tuesday she will be testifying for the federal government in the …….