Politics

Sheila Jackson Lee Steps Down From Two Powerful Posts — But Not From Congress

A former staffer in the congresswoman’s office claims she was fired by Jackson Lee after reporting a rape by a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation staffer. Jackson Lee was the foundation’s board chair before stepping down Wednesday.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks during a news conference at the Capitol with other members of the Heroin Task Force on April 21, 2016.houston

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, is stepping down from her two most powerful roles within congressional and House Democratic circles.

The 13-term congresswoman will no longer serve as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s board chairwoman and will temporarily step aside from her position as chair on the Judiciary Committee’s crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations subcommittee, according to the New York Times.

At issue is her spring 2018 termination of a staffer known in court filings as “Jane Doe,” who alleged that a supervising CBCF staffer raped her in 2015 when she was an intern for the foundation. Doe later went to work for Jackson Lee, and claims that she informed the congresswoman’s chief of staff that she planned to pursue legal action against the CBCF staffer and was fired several weeks later, according to Buzzfeed News — which first reported last week that the woman was suing Jackson Lee’s office and the CBCF over the matter.

The report threw Jackson Lee’s status within the House Democratic world into doubt, and several reports have since surfaced stating that CBCF officials pushed to remove her from that post.

The CBCF is a leadership program for young African Americans that offers fellowships and scholarships. It is closely tied to the powerful Congressional Black Caucus.

Gabe Schneider contributed to this report. This article was originally published in The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. 

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