Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a long-serving Democratic congresswoman representing Texas, is under fire for a recently leaked audio recording in which she is heard berating one of her staff members in an expletive-laden tirade.
In the recording, Jackson Lee can be heard using profanity and derogatory language while reprimanding a male staff member. The congresswoman seemed frustrated over a piece of paper related to an event and demanded to know the event details. She called out her staff member for not using his brain and failing to provide the requested information.
The audio was obtained by the Texas newspaper Current Revolt and published on Oct. 22. Jackson Lee is heard asking a male staff member, “You took a piece of paper from that woman regarding something that was owned by Duncantell. Where is it? What date was it?”
The man tells the representative he gave the piece of paper to Jerome, who took it upstairs. The staff member then tells Jackson Lee he will call Jerome, but Jackson Lee cuts him off.
“I don’t want you to do a [expletive] thing,” she said. “I want you to have a [expletive] brain. I want you to have read it. I want you to say, ‘Congresswoman, it was such and such a date. That’s what I want. That’s the kind of staff that I want to have.”
She continued, “When I called Jerome, he only sits up there like a fat [expletive], just talking about what the [expletive] he doesn’t know. Both of y’all are [expletive]-ups…This is the worst [expletive] that I could’ve ever had put together. Two [expletive] big [expletive] children. [expletive] idiots. Serve no [expletive] purposed,” as per Fox 26 Houston.
Meanwhile, critics have called Jackson Lee out saying that her use of explicit language and derogatory comments is unbecoming of a public servant.
This is not the first time Jackson Lee has faced scrutiny over the treatment of her staff. In 2011, a report by The Daily Caller cited former staff members who claimed she used demeaning language and name-calling when speaking to them. She was also accused of forcing her staff to work long hours.
And in 2019, she faced controversy in 2019 when she was forced to resign as the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) in response to a lawsuit by a former employee. The former staffer alleged that she was fired as retaliation for planned legal action related to an alleged 2015 rape by a supervisor. The lawsuit against Jackson Lee was eventually dismissed in 2020, The Texas Tribune reported.
Jackson Lee acknowledged expressed regrets at the language she used with her staffers.
The controversy surrounding the leaked audio recording could impact Jackson Lee’s political career as the 28-year congresswoman is running for mayor of Houston.
“To anyone who has listened to this recording with concern, I am regretful and hope you will judge me not by something trotted out by a political opponent, that worked to exploit this, and backed by extreme Republican supporters on the very day that polls open, but from what I’ve delivered to Houstonians over my years of public service,” Jackson Lee said in her apology statement, Houston Public Media reported.
“Interns in my office leave with actual constituent service and legislative experience,” she said. “I want each of them to know that the work we accomplish would never be possible without their hard work and dedication.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee on Capitol Hill Dec. 11, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, Pool)