Embattled state Rep. Todd Warner and his former opponent, ex-Rep. Rick Tillis, face off in a social media fight ahead of the August 4 election.
Warner, who has been under FBI investigation since the start of 2021, recently sent a text message telling voters in House District 92 that they would be receiving “negative” senders for the next two weeks of his opposition to the House race. He is running against Spring Hill Alderman Matt Fitterer and Jeff Ford, a former Williamson County commissioner, in the Republican primary.
“These attacks are orchestrated in conjunction with career politicians and big-budget lobbyists in Nashville who are doing everything they can, including lying, to knock out a REAL conservative,” Warner said. “And, while my opponents continue their desperate attempts to hurt my family through dishonesty and slander while hiding in the shadows, I am here to meet constituents and work for YOU.”
Warner, a Republican from Chapel Hill, says the attacks stem from the 2020 race when he beat Tillis, an incumbent from Lewisburg.
These attacks are orchestrated in conjunction with career politicians and big-budget lobbyists in Nashville who are doing everything they can, including lying, to knock out a REAL conservative.
– Representative Todd Warner, R-Lewisburg
“The result is simple: I defeated the brother of a sitting US senator and favors were asked afterward in an attempt to hurt my family. I did absolutely nothing wrong and stand by that statement fully. and firmly,” Warner said.
Warner won with the help of former House Speaker Glen Casada and his ex-chief of staff, Cade Cothren, who would run an Alabama-based campaign firm called Dixieland Strategies, which worked for Warner a while ago. two years and continues to produce campaign literature for him this year.
Warner said he stayed with Dixieland because the company had done a “good job”.
Cothren, Casada and Warner were raided by the FBI in January 2021 and are still under investigation. The feds have already secured the conviction of former Rep. Robin Smith, who pleaded guilty to running a kickback scheme with Phoenix Strategies, a New Mexico-based vendor that did business with Republicans from the House, including taxpayer-funded shippers, and made payments to Smith and Casada. Cothren also ran that company, according to federal documents.
I swore off Twitter a while ago, but my idiot state rep Todd Warner, for those who keep accounts of idiot state reps, which we have a lot, told me shoot on it. So here I am. Share. Care. Desperate.
– Rick Tillis, former State Representative
Tennessee’s Election Finances Registry is asking the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office to investigate a separate case in which the political action committee, Faith, Family Freedom Fund, allegedly coordinated Warner’s campaign, a violation of law electoral. Cothren also led this political action committee, according to the testimony of a former girlfriend who formed the PAC.
Tillis, who resigned as House Republican Caucus whip after it was revealed he started an anonymous Twitter thread criticizing Casada, has been relatively quiet for the past two years.
In a recent tweet, he said, “I swore off Twitter a while ago, but my idiot State Rep. Todd Warner, for those who maintain idiot State Rep accounts, what we have a lot, shot me. So here I am. Share. Care. Desperate.”
Tillis said in a statement on social media that he did not get involved in the race, other than mentioning that he supported Ford, but noted that he was changing his position because Warner had shot him and his brother, Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
“Warner accused Thom of using his office to launch an FBI investigation into him, nothing could be further from the truth! his family is ridiculous!” he said.
Tillis stresses that the FBI will not open an investigation unless the agency has “credible evidence.” He noted that Warner’s home, business and legislative office were searched before he was sworn in as a member of the House.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Tillis said, adding that Smith has resigned and is cooperating with the Justice Department with a sentencing scheduled for October. “We’ll see what she has to share,” he said.
He claimed Warner “complained about the attacks” on him and his family, even though no one in his family was mentioned in any political ad.
“Look, you run for office expecting to be attacked, that comes with the territory,” Tillis said.
Warner repeatedly declined to be interviewed by the Tennessee Lookout this year about the FBI investigation, saying his attorney advised him not to speak.