A House committee has recommended the expulsion of Republican state Rep. Bryan Slaton after finding that he engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a subordinate, then acted to thwart an investigation into the matter.
In a speech from the floor, Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, chairman of the House General Investigating Committee, said Slaton’s behavior was “induced by alcohol” that the representative provided the 19-year-old woman.
“Rep. Slaton then acted systematically to influence that subordinate and multiple witnesses to obstruct the investigation,” Murr said.
Murr said expelling Slaton was necessary to protect the “dignity and integrity” of the Legislature.
After Murr’s speech, clerks distributed the investigative committee’s report on Slaton, which detailed the panel’s findings and its recommendation of expulsion. Members sat silently for about 10 minutes and read it as Slaton remained seated at his desk, occasionally peering at his phone.
Speaker Dade Phelan then resumed normal legislative business. The speaker, who typically does not participate in chamber debates as its presiding officer, said in a written statement he would stick to that role.
“I will withhold public comment until my colleagues have the opportunity to deliberate and then vote on the General Investigating Committee’s recommendations,” Phelan said.
The decision to remove Slaton will ultimately be up to the full House; the Texas Constitution allows members to be expelled with a two-thirds vote of the chamber. Murr on Saturday filed House Resolution 1542, the legislation which would remove him.
The House has not expelled members in nearly a century. Members removed Reps. F.A. Dale and H. H. Moore in 1927 on the grounds of “conduct unbecoming any member.”
See here and here for the previous updates. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting this. Obviously, this is an extremely rare situation (side note: I sure hope someone does a little reporting to find out what “conduct unbecoming any member” meant in 1927), so I doubt anyone was expecting it, least of all Slaton. QR has a copy of the report now, but it’s behind their paywall; hopefully a public copy will be made eventually. In the meantime, I invite you to watch this brief speech about the report and its recommendation by Rep. Murr:
Rep. Murr delivers results of the House General Investigating Committee concerning the conduct of Rep. Bryan Slaton
— Lege TV (@legetv) 12:40 PM – 6 May 2023
I also want to remind you of who Rep. Slaton is:
Slaton took office in 2021 after defeating Rep. Dan Flynn, a longtime Republican state representative whom Slaton had challenged multiple times and considered too moderate.
His political campaign was largely funded by West Texas oil and gas billionaires Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks. The two are among the biggest donors to some of the most socially conservative lawmakers in the Legislature, including far-right opponents to lawmakers who vote against their political interests.
Slaton is known as one of the most conservative members in the chamber, frequently rankling House leaders, and this year fought a losing battle to amend House rules to prohibit Democrats from leading legislative committees. The issue has been a major concern for ultraconservative grassroots Republicans who do not want Democrats leading key legislative debates.
Last year, he called for a blanket ban on minors at drag shows, saying it was necessary to protect children from “perverted adults.” He has also proposed giving property tax cuts to straight, married couples — but not same-sex couples or those who have been divorced — based on the number of children they have.
“Perverted adults”, indeed. The response we should all make now any time a wingnut talks about “filthy” books or drag shows or whatever else we need to “protect” children from is “You mean like Bryan Slaton?” Good riddance – I hope; we’ll see on Tuesday – to a truly awful legislator and even worse human being. Oh, and remember that the biggest moneybags in Republican politics helped foist him on us.
In the meantime, it’s still not clear what if anything the committee is doing with the allegations against Rep. Jones. Maybe the session will end and we’ll just assume they took no action, or maybe we’ll find out that they reviewed written reports but took no testimony. Not a whole lot of time left to find out.
UPDATE: The committee’s report can be found here, which I got via the DMN story. It’s 16 pages long, and you really should read it. It’s worse than I thought. Slaton actively tried to cover his tracks, none of the other staffers in his office (all male) cooperated with the investigation, his lawyer tried to delay things…it’s bad. The Trib story has been updated with details from the report since I wrote the original post. If the Travis County DA reads the report, there are multiple crimes they could try to indict Slaton for.
Two other items of interest. One is that the committee’s recommendation that Slaton be expelled was unanimous. Two, the report notes that the reason there have been so few expulsions over the years is that most members caught up in serious forms of misconduct have resigned before they could be expelled. Slaton, who has denied all responsibility in this incident, doesn’t appear likely to do that.