Monday, January 21, 2019

Shelia Jackson Lee, Harris County D's, Need to Answer VERY Serious Questions

"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

ICYMI, late last week:
WASHINGTON — 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.

Jones did not return requests for comment. After leaving the CBCF in late 2015, he continued to work in Democratic politics and recently served as the regional political director for former representative Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign. Chris Evans, a spokesperson for the O’Rourke campaign, said in an email to BuzzFeed News, “The Beto for Texas campaign was absolutely not aware of these allegations until today and no longer has a relationship with Damien Jones.”

Rushing told BuzzFeed News in a phone call that “We had nothing to do with any of the actions that have been cited and the person was not wrongfully terminated.” He declined to answer additional questions.

Jackson Lee's office later released a statement pointing to the congresswoman's record on civil rights and non-discrimination measures, and saying that the office "adamantly denies the allegations that it retaliated against, or otherwise improperly treated, the plaintiff. It is against office policy to discuss specific details about internal personnel matters."

"Although the Congresswoman is eager to respond substantively, she will do so only at the appropriate time, as the court docket dictates. The Congresswoman is confident that, once all of the facts come to light, her Office will be exonerated of any retaliatory or otherwise improper conduct and this matter will be put to rest," Jackson Lee's office said. "While we still deny the allegations, we are especially concerned about Ms. Doe and only want the best for her and the many, many young people that the Congressional office has supported, encouraged, and provided opportunities for over 20 years."

Marc Banks, a spokesperson for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview that he did not know whether there had been any communication between the foundation and Jackson Lee's office about the rape allegation against Jones or Jane Doe's plan to sue the foundation. But he said that a decision to fire a congressional staffer was "outside the purview of the foundation."

"We would have no reason to harm the former intern," Banks said.

Banks said that the foundation took "immediate and swift action" to fire Jones after investigating Jane Doe's allegations, but he was "not privy" to what the foundation learned in the course of that review.


In late 2017, Jane Doe took a job in Jackson Lee’s congressional office. Soon after she was hired, according to the lawsuit, Jane Doe learned that Jones might be hired in Jackson Lee’s office, and she told Rushing that she had a “prior situation” with Jones and would not be comfortable working together. Rushing allegedly told her that he understood and didn’t end up hiring Jones “because he had a situation with CBCF and they could not have him working in the office as a result.”

In early March 2018, Jane Doe told Rushing that she had learned “more about her case involving Mr. Jones and CBCF” and was planning to go forward with legal action, according to the complaint. Jane Doe said she asked to speak with Jackson Lee, and Rushing agreed, but no meeting took place. On March 29, she said she was told she was being fired because of budget issues.

Jane Doe’s lawsuit describes times she said she spent driving Jackson Lee in her personal car she and alleges she was pressured by Jackson Lee and Rushing to get a new car after her car was damaged in an accident. When she was fired, she said that in addition to being told it was because of budget issues, that Rushing also told her, “It didn’t help that you lied about the car.” It was not immediately clear from court filings what that was a reference to.

Jane Doe alleges that the budget-related explanation was a pretext and that Jackson Lee retaliated against her for planning to take action against the CBCF related to the alleged rape.
Over the weekend:
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is refusing demands to step down as leader of the Congressional Black Caucus’ nonprofit arm amid claims she fired one of her congressional staffers over rape allegations.

Jackson Lee was told by the CBC Foundation’s board to resign during a lengthy call on Thursday night, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation. Jackson Lee resisted those demands, and the call abruptly ended as other board members were trying to figure out how to continue the conversation without the Texas Democrat.

Jackson Lee has also been pressured by leadership within the CBC to step down from her position with the foundation, according to one of the sources. The foundation’s board was expected to have another emergency call Friday night to assess the situation.


Following Jackson Lee’s refusal to step aside, at least one board member stepped down, and sources with knowledge of the situation say more are expected to follow if Lee remains. Cathy Hughes, a media executive and entrepreneur, resigned from the board, according to the two sources. Hughes, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.

This looks like a very serious situation.  Obviously, we don't know all the facts.  But some early questions are unavoidable.

 Among them:
  • What was the nature of the alleged "budget issue" that caused Shelia Jackson Lee to fire Jane Doe?!?
  • Why the heck would Sheila Jackson Lee hire someone with this much baggage in the first place?!?
  • Did Shelia Jackson Lee ever inform the O'Rourke campaign about the accusations against Damien Jones?!?
That last question is especially relevant given that Damien Jones is accused of raping a young woman who was his direct professional subordinate.

The best case scenario is grotesque negligence mixed with an awfully big coincidence.  Not impossible...but the odds seem long.  Possibilities get worse from there.



National conservative media outlets are trying to make this about O'Rourke.  That's a mistake.  While things could change, we believe Shelia Jackson Lee bears significantly more culpability than O'Rourke.  It was Lee's responsibility to inform O'Rourke, not vice versa.

Except...for Borris Miles.

During the campaign, we made a big deal out of the fact that O'Rourke held a campaign event with Borris Miles [Note: THIS Borris Miles].  We didn't remark upon it at the time, but Shelia Jackson Lee was the third elected official at that event.  Given what we've just learned about Damien Jones being the link between O'Rourke and Shelia Jackson Lee, to also include Borris Miles at that event seems...newly significant.

The Texas Observer has more:
At a block-walk event on Houston’s South Side earlier that day, Damien Jones, Beto’s political director for the Houston area, laid out the stakes. “Two years ago,” Jones pronounced in his red Chucks and a black-and-white “BETO” trucker hat, “many of us had many regrets about what happened — that we didn’t do enough. This is the time to leave it all on the field. We can’t have any regrets this time.”

O’Rourke has assembled perhaps the most impressive ground game of any statewide Democrat in a generation — and the campaign is trying to reach deep into black communities.
In other words, the O'Rourke campaign was trying to "reach deep into black communities" by hiring Damien Jones to work with Borris Friggin' Miles.

"Reach deep into" indeed.


Other Harris County Democrats (especially Sylvester Turner):

As the de facto leader of the Democrats in Harris County, Mayor Turner could clean up this activity if he wanted.

Instead, from Friday night:

Earlier Today:

In other words, in light of what we learned last week, the de facto leader of the Democrats chose to attend 2 events with Shelia Jackson Lee (one of which also included Borris Miles).

Furthermore, consider that in the picture with O'Rourke shown above, Rodney Ellis is the third person in the photo.

So you've got Rodney Ellis hanging out with Damien Jones at the same time you've got Sylvester Turner doing events with Shelia Jackson Lee and Borris Miles.

With this much smoke, imagine the fire.


Bottom Line: There seem to be an awfully high number of awfully big coincidences surrounding this story.  Most, though certainly not all, seem to surround Shelia Jackson Lee.  She's certainly the best place to start....

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