Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee resigns as CBC Foundation chairwoman

Last week Ed wrote about a serious allegation against Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. A lawsuit filed by a woman only identified as Jane Doe claims Rep. Lee’s office fired her after learning she would be taking legal action over a sexual assault that had taken place two years earlier when she was an intern at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Today, the NY Times reports that Rep. Lee is stepping down as the foundation’s chairwoman.

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, facing fallout from a lawsuit claiming she fired an aide who said she was sexually assaulted by a supervisor at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, said on Wednesday she had decided to resign as the foundation’s chairwoman.

Ms. Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat in her 13th term, also stepped aside temporarily from an important House Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship, the committee said…

Ms. Jackson Lee has adamantly denied that she fired the woman for retribution after the woman indicated she wanted to pursue legal action, but she planned to say Wednesday that she would step aside nonetheless.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s board had given Ms. Jackson Lee an ultimatum late last week after the claims became public: 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.

So it sounds like she didn’t leave so much as she was pushed out. Politico reported last week that Foundation board members were stepping down to protest Rep. Lee’s continued presence in light of the allegations.

Jackson Lee was told by the CBC Foundation’s board to resign during a lengthy call on Thursday night, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation. Jackson Lee resisted those demands, and the call abruptly ended as other board members were trying to figure out how to continue the conversation without the Texas Democrat…

Following Jackson Lee’s refusal to step aside, at least one board member stepped down, and sources with knowledge of the situation say more are expected to follow if Lee remains. Cathy Hughes, a media executive and entrepreneur, resigned from the board, according to the two sources. Hughes, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.

According to the NY Times, this may not be the end of the fallout for Rep. Lee. She is currently a sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, but a spokesman for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence said it could not “support her continued lead sponsorship” under the circumstances.

According to the lawsuit filed by Jane Doe, she asked for a chance to speak to Rep. Lee after deciding to pursue legal action over her alleged rape, but Lee never met with her and two weeks later she was fired over “budgetary issues.” If it can be proven Rep. Lee ordered her fired will she be called on to resign? That remains to be seen.