Politics

Sheila Jackson Lee allegedly berates staffer during explicit tirade in unverified audio recording

In the 95-second audio recording, a woman who sounds like the Texas congresswoman can be heard explicitly scolding a male staffer.

Ranking Member Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, April 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/AP
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee at a hearing in Washington on April 4, 2017.

An unverified audio recording circulating on social media days before the start of early voting allegedly depicts U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houston mayoral candidate, berating a staff member during an explicit tirade.

In the 95-second audio recording, which was emailed to several Houston news outlets on Friday, a woman who sounds like the Texas congresswoman can be heard scolding a male staffer after he explained that a different member of the team had information that she asked for.

“I want you to have a f–king brain,” the woman said. “I want you to have read it. I want you to say, ‘Congresswoman, it was such and such date.' That's what I want."

The woman can be heard saying that both the male staffer and another staff member, who she describes as a “fat ass stupid idiot,” are “two goddamn big-ass children” who “serve no goddamn purpose.”

“Nobody knows a goddamn thing in my office,” the woman said.

Houston Public Media reached out to Jackson Lee’s congressional office and campaign, along with former staffers, in an effort to confirm the recording’s authenticity. As of Monday afternoon, we haven’t received a confirmation.

Listen to the audio recording below. Contains graphic and uncensored language.

Listen

To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="https://embed.hpm.io/467420/467419" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>
X

The recording’s release happened just days before the start of early voting on Monday, which may not be a coincidence, according to Bob Stein, a political science professor at Rice University.

“Is it a hatchet job? Is it an intentional attempt to undermine her support? Of course it is,” Stein said. “Whoever released it obviously was not a fan of the congresswoman and may prefer one of the other candidates.”

A recent poll from the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs showed Jackson Lee and State Sen. John Whitmire maintain an overwhelming lead in the Houston mayoral race, which will likely end in a runoff between the two candidates.

Despite the vocal criticism on social media, Stein believes the audio recording won’t have “an appreciable impact” on Jackson Lee’s campaign.

In a statement to the Houston Chronicle, Jackson Lee’s campaign didn’t confirm whether the voice heard in the recording was Jackson Lee’s, but instead tied the recording’s release to Whitmire.

"This is a low handed political tactic meant to discredit a thriving mayoral campaign and distract voters ahead of the early voting period," the statement read. "It's unsurprising that these attacks have originated from extremely conservative blogs and political operatives backing John Whitmire."

Whitmire’s camp denied having any involvement in the recording’s release.

“The first we heard of this recording was when it was emailed to the media,” Sue Davis, a spokesperson for Whitmire, told Houston Public Media.

Early voting is underway and runs through Nov. 3. Election Day is Nov. 7.