Texas legislators ‘seek justice’ after Capitol staffer is allegedly drugged by lobbyist

The Texas House is grappling with a disturbing scandal after a lobbyist allegedly drugged a female staffer with a “date rape drug” during a recent meeting in downtown Austin.

The staffer who came forward with the accusation is receiving widespread bipartisan support, and the matter is being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“There have been allegations of sexual assault at the Capitol. I won’t partake in the culture of victim blaming,” said state Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Farmers Branch) in an April 26 Tweet. “We will continue to monitor this situation to seek justice for our staff.”

Johnson shared a copy of a letter she and 30 other female legislators signed and sent to legislature employees calling for immediate reform.

In part, the letter said, “The ultimate goal has been to change the culture of silence and victim blaming and, instead, create a supportive system that encourages anyone subjected to such abuses to know that they will be believed.”

At the start of the legislative session on Monday, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) began by announcing that the Capitol community had been shaken to its core by the allegations.

“I am disgusted that this sort of predatory behavior is still taking place in and around our Capitol,” Phelan said.

Sexual misconduct has traditionally been subjected to little oversight in the Capitol workplace environment. While several policy changes have been implemented in recent years to mitigate inappropriate behavior, the new allegations have reignited concerns that the current system remains faulty.

“We must change a corrupting culture,” tweeted state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) a day after the incident was said to have occurred. “As a husband, a father to three daughters and responsible for staff – I won’t tolerate anyone who refuses to treat women appropriately, in thought, word or action.”

HillCo Partners, a prominent lobbying firm, said in a statement they are internally investigating an employee who is a person of interest in the case. Bill Miller, the firm’s co-founder, said that any employee involved in sexual misconduct will be terminated.

DPS officials are unable to release any additional details about the alleged incident because the investigation is ongoing. They have also declined so far to release the identities of either the staffer or the accused lobbyist.

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