Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, the leftist from Texas, quit as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on Wednesday.
Her forced resignation came after a former staff member filed a lawsuit against the congresswoman and CBCF. Jane Doe’s lawsuit alleges that Jackson Lee fired Doe because Doe — who also alleges that a CBCF supervisor raped her — threatened legal action against CBCF.
Jackson Lee also quit an important post on a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, the New York Times revealed, and might well be on her way off Capitol Hill as well if the rape victim prevails in court or in a settlement.
It’s an ugly accusation that, apparently, has shaken the CBCF’s leadership. Jackson Lee, after all, isn’t the only defendant. So is CBCF.
Whatever happens with Jackson Lee and CBCF, a question for her colleagues: What will they do about it?
The legal trouble for the 13-term congresswoman from Texas’ 18th District began when plaintiff Jane Doe leveled the charge that Jackson Lee fired Doe after she disclosed her plan to sue the organization.
And the trouble for Doe began when her boss at CBCF asked her out to dinner after a fundraising event, the lawsuit alleges.
The 30-year-old supervisor and the then 19-year-old intern from Howard University shared margaritas and dinner, then repaired to his place by Uber. They stopped at the liquor store to buy some booze.
Back at the supervisor’s pad, the lawsuit alleges, Doe told him she couldn’t drink anymore. He was not dissuaded, and he pulled out a pipe and giggle weed and encouraged the woman to join him.
Doe couldn’t explain where she was when she texted a friend for help the next morning and woke up nude in his bed. She claims he forced her to perform oral sex.
A sexual assault nurse’s exam showed rough sex, the lawsuit alleges, but the DNA evidence, as the lawsuit explains, appeared to be inconclusive.
Job and Firing
The intern landed in New York briefly, but then, having applied for a job in Jackson Lee’s office was hired as the the “Special Assistant and Director of Public Engagement.”
Doe’s supervisor revealed that her assailant had applied for a job there, too, the lawsuit alleges, but after she revealed the rape, he wasn’t hired.
Jackson Lee became chair of CBCF in April 2017, and in November, Doe, who screened the congresswoman’s e-mail and maintained her cellphone, intercepted a message from CBCF that urged Jackson Lee to call the sender, who had “background” on Doe.
Then Doe erred tactically. On March 9 last year, she divulged that she planned legal action against CBCF. She requested a meeting with Jackson Lee. The congresswoman refused.
Citing budget cuts, the lawsuit alleges, Jackson Lee fired Doe two weeks later.
Jackson Lee and CBCF “conspired to retaliate” against Doe because she planned the lawsuit, it alleges, and more importantly “CBCF encouraged” the congresswoman to fire Doe “to inflict emotional distress ... so that she would not pursue her legal claims against CBCF.”
In other words, Jackson Lee was trying to protect CBCF from Doe’s lawsuit.
That doesn’t sound good for CBCF, which according to the Times, pushed Jackson Lee out the front door. “Members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s board had given Ms. Jackson Lee an ultimatum late last week after the claims became public,” the Times reported. “Step down as chairwoman or face a vote of removal as soon as this week, according to an official familiar with the conversations who was not authorized to discuss them.”
Other leftist groups are, as they say, distancing themselves from the congresswoman, who released the boilerplate denial, the Times reported: “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.”
The question is why Jackson Lee’s colleagues in both parties aren’t as enraged about the matter as they were about Iowa GOP Representative Steve King’s now famous comments to the New York Times.
The Times distorted what King said about white supremacy, he claimed, but his colleagues subjected him to a Two Minutes Hate. Then they voted on a resolution condemning “white supremacy” with the implication that King supports it.
But King hurt no one.
No such furor has erupted in this case, which involves the rape of a 19-year-old college girl and the accusation that Jackson Lee tried to cover it up.
Perhaps Jackson Lee’s colleagues will work themselves into an indignant fury if Jane Doe prevails, and maybe they’ll even condemn firing employees who complain about rape.
Photo of Sheila Jackson Lee: Black Americans in Congress. Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives