Facing criticism from a lawsuit and having stepped down from two major posts, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and members of her staff have asserted that she’ll ultimately be cleared of any wrongdoing alleged in a court filing that claims she fired an aide who said she was sexually assaulted by a supervisor at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
The Texas Democrat has a long record of supporting workplace safety and nondiscrimination laws, including sponsoring a measure that applies those same standards to Congress, her staff said Thursday.
“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,” a statement from her office said.
In the meantime, she has resigned her post as Congressional Black Caucus Foundation chair.
Jackson Lee also said she’ll temporarily step aside as chair on the House Judiciary Committee’s crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations subcommittee.
A former and unidentified staff member filed suit alleging that she was unlawfully terminated after informing Jackson Lee’s chief of staff that a supervising CBCF staffer raped her in 2015 when she served there as an intern.
The lawsuit seeks at least $75,000 in punitive damages.
Named by Congressional Quarterly as one of the 50 most effective members of Congress and as one of U.S. News and World Reports 10 most influential legislators in the House, Jackson Lee has served 13 terms.
She’s noted by many as the voice of reason, even calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump in part because of his divisive and damaging policies and the many alleged crimes he’s implicated in.
Jackson Lee has also led the way on criminal justice reform and she’s introduced several bills including the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Reauthorization and Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act, the Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act and an Amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act affirming the authority of the Attorney General to reduce prison overcrowding by developing and implementing policies relating to requests for executive clemency from deserving petitioners.
Her duties with the CBCF, a leadership program for young African Americans that offer fellowships and scholarships, have also earned Jackson Lee acclaim among her constituents.
“We are grateful for Rep. Jackson Lee’s unswerving commitment to the Foundation, and her efforts to help shape and elevate our programming for the last two years as chair, and a number of years as a board member,” Elsie L. Scott, the interim president and CEO of the CBCF, said in a statement.
“The congresswoman values the Foundation’s ideals and does not want to be a distraction during the legal proceedings of the suit filed against the CBCF,” Scott said.