Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, has built a reputation as one of the “meanest” members of Congress to work for, but has also become one of its most recognizable faces, having represented the same district in the House of Representatives for more than 28 years.
She announced this week, however, that she would be running for mayor of Houston in the off-year election, potentially bringing her tumultuous time in Congress to an end should she prevail.
Here is a look at some of Jackson Lee’s wildest moments from her years in the House:
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Allegations of staff abuse
Jackson Lee has long been known as one of the most difficult members of Congress to work for, and, according to a 2011 Daily Caller report that cited a number of former staff members, frequently used demeaning language and name-calling when addressing them.
“You stupid motherf—-r,” one former employee said Jackson Lee “constantly” called him, while another described an occasion her parents were visiting from out of town and overheard Jackson Lee call her a “stupid idiot” because of a scheduling change. “Don’t be a moron, you foolish girl,” the former aide alleged Jackson Lee told her.
Another former aide alleged Jackson Lee once told them, “You don’t understand. I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen.”
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Others said she often forced them to work long hours, even into the early hours of the morning, and that she demanded to be driven by staff everywhere she went regardless of how short the distance.
Airplane seating scandal
In Dec. 2017, Jean-Marie Simon, a United Airlines passenger traveling on a Washington, D.C. bound flight from Houston, alleged she was bumped from her first class seat so that it could be given to Jackson Lee.
Simon, a Democrat and attorney, accused United of giving preferential treatment to Jackson Lee, although the company denied the accusation and claimed the woman canceled her ticket using the mobile app. Simon denied that she canceled her ticket, but was reseated in a lower seating class.
“I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary,” Jackson Lee said in a statement to the Houston Chronicle following the incident, and later claimed on Facebook she was being targeted because she is Black.
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Simon pushed back on the racism claim by admitting she had no idea who Jackson Lee was during the incident, and said she would have reacted the same if it had “been Donald Duck” in her seat.
Accusations of retaliation over staffer rape claim
Jackson Lee was forced to resign as the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) in 2019 in the wake of a lawsuit by a former employee who claimed she was fired as retaliation for planned legal action related to an alleged 2015 rape by a supervisor.
According to The New York Times, which first reported on Jackson Lee’s plans to resign, CBCF board members told Jackson Lee to step down as chairwoman or face a removal vote after the lawsuit became public a week earlier.
In the suit, the unnamed former staffer alleged she was raped while a CBCF intern by Damien Jones, the foundation’s internship program coordinator and her supervisor at the time. Two years later, she was hired to work for Jackson Lee, who had recently been made chairwoman of the CBCF’s board of directors. Shortly after she was hired, Doe said Jackson Lee received a text message from the CBCF’s chief executive at the time, A. Shaunise Washington.
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“I just received a notification that you have a new staffer,” Washington allegedly messaged Jackson Lee, mentioning the staffer’s name. “Call me, I have background on her.”
The staffer said she was fired in March 2018, roughly two weeks after she told Jackson’s chief of staff, Glenn Rushing, that she had “recently learned more about her case involving Mr. Jones and CBCF, and planned to move forward with legal action” against the foundation.
The lawsuit was dismissed in 2020.
Fox News Digital reached out to Jackson Lee’s office for comment but did not receive an immediate response, however, over the years the congresswoman has attributed criticism of her alleged behavior to “racism” and “sexism.”