Even the capsule summary of the accusation has all the pathologies of the Congressional Black Caucus on display. There’s the nepotism, abuse of power and blatant contempt for the norms that the Democrats claim to stand for. With no consequences.
A former staffer for Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee claims in a new lawsuit that the lawmaker retaliated against her and fired her because she was planning to pursue legal action over an alleged rape by a former employee of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
The woman, identified in court papers by the pseudonym Jane Doe, alleges she was raped in October 2015, when she was a 19-year-old intern for the CBCF, by the foundation’s intern coordinator at the time, Damien Jones. The woman said she reported the alleged rape to police and told several people, including Rep. Terri Sewell, her former boss and a distant relative of her mother’s, but did not pursue legal action at the time.
Several years later, when Jane Doe was working for Jackson Lee, the woman decided she did want to pursue legal action, and told Jackson Lee’s chief of staff Glenn Rushing in early March 2018. The woman alleges that she asked to speak with Jackson Lee about it, but a meeting never happened, and several weeks later she was fired. Jackson Lee is chair of the board for the CBCF.
There’s the nepotism. CBC’ers are certainly not the only House members who hire relatives. But it’s more common.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is often the butt of jokes because of her propensity to say stupid things, sometimes on camera, but she’s also known for a grandiose sense of entitlement.
If you pay attention to local politics long enough, you’ll no doubt hear the phrase: “I’ve never heard of a camera that Sheila Jackson Lee didn’t love.”
Still, it’s likely the Democratic representative isn’t enjoying this kind of spotlight: The Washingtonian has again awarded Jackson Lee, D-Houston, the position of meanest Congress member among Democrats.
The “award” is part of the magazine’s biennial survey “The Best & Worst of Congress.” The survey allows congressional employees to anonymously rate their bosses on the Hill.
This isn’t political. Or at least it’s purely small ‘p’ political.
For Jackson Lee, it’s not the first time she’s won the “meanest” title. These wins might have something to do with this: An analysis done by they Houston Chronicle in 2011 revealed the congresswoman had the highest turnover among staff in the Houston delegation over the past decade.
So this doesn’t come from out of nowhere.
Several decades worth of coverage of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee suggests she’s behaved badly on planes – and on automobiles – before this week’s incident.
The latest airplane drama came this week when a United Airlines passenger said she was booted from her first class seat to accommodate the Texas Democrat, who shot back by saying the only reason the woman complained was because Jackson Lee is black.
But previous reports show the House member, who was elected in 1994, has had a history of transportation drama, including berating flight attendants on first class flights and making her Congressional staff drive her one block, while waiting on her for hours and disrupting traffic.
She’s been documented calling her employees ‘you stupid motherf***er,’ while referring to herself as Congressional royalty.
‘You don’t understand. I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen,’ she was quoted saying in 1998, three years into her nearly 23-year tenure on Capitol Hill.
That sense of entitlement defines Jackson Lee even more than her gaffes.