Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

DPS investigating allegation that a lobbyist drugged a female Capitol staffer

That’s the headline on this story, and it’s disturbing.

Texas Department of Public Safety investigators are looking into an allegation from at least one female Capitol staffer who believes a lobbyist used a date-rape drug on her during a meeting downtown, an agency spokesman told the American-Statesman Saturday.

Officials recently received a complaint from an alleged victim, prompting the investigation, DPS spokesman Travis Considine said. He would not identify the lobbyist and was unable to say when and where the incident happened.

No charges have been filed and no arrests have been made.

Authorities also said they were not prepared to disclose where in the Capitol the alleged victim worked or for which member to protect her identity.

[…]

The allegation is reminiscent of 2017 media reports of sexual misconduct in the Capitol that went back years and led to lawmakers overhauling procedures for sexual harassment reporting in 2019.

The rules, which do not apply to lobbyists, require House members and staffers to take training on identifying and responding to such misconduct, and made the chamber’s general investigating committee the main body to vet allegations.

Obviously, there’s a lot we don’t know. There’s a good chance this won’t ever lead to an arrest, in which case we may never know any more than what we know now. What we do know is that the state Capitol has long been a hostile and dangerous place for women. (I presume that is also the case for nonbinary and gender non-conforming people, we just have less reporting on it.) A lot of the focus has been on the alleged behavior of some legislators, but it’s clear that lobbyists are a big part of the problem, too. Maybe this will lead to some names being named, or for the harassment rules to be extended to include lobbyists. For sure, there is much that needs to be done to make the Capitol environment safer, and all of it starts with regulating, punishing, and just generally not tolerating the offensive, harassing, dangerous behavior – committed overwhelmingly by men – that has been excused and ignored for so long. But even before that, we have to own up to the fact that there’s a problem first.

I’m going to end with a few words from the women who feel the threat of all this every session. We must do better.

UPDATE:

Make of that what you will.

UPDATE: Here’s the Trib story, with further comment from HillCo Partners.

Related Posts:

5 Comments

  1. […] here for the background. Again, I commend Speaker Phelan for taking this seriously – we’ve […]

  2. Kibitzer says:

    With all due respect, this commentator on the culture wars has a different take.

    What we have here is a social-media feeding frenzy, with a rape rumor serving as red meat. Another instance of raw emotion and knee jerk responses taking the place of reasoned argumentation.

    N=1 AT BEST, ERGO ANECDOTAL FROM THE STANDPOINT OF EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT A SOCIAL-SCIENTIFIC OR POLICY ARGUMENT

    Unlike with voter fraud, we don’t even have a single proven case yet. What we have instead is a sketchy narrative of an alleged criminal episode that spread like a wildfire by more modern means than was the case in Tulsa, where – history has it — a sex assault rumor precipitated race riots and a massacre without the facilitation of online communications.

    Assuming arguendo that the current rumor substantively comports with reality (a matter yet to be established unlike the killing of George Floyd which we all witnessed on TV long before a jury rendered its verdict), how would the occurrence in question not already constitute two crimes under the existing law?

    (1) procurement/possession of a controlled substance, (2) causing the involuntary and unwitting ingestion of a controlled substance by another person.

    Unlike the conviction of Chrystal Mason for unknowingly voting while being temporarily disfranchised, both acts would clearly involve mens rea (evil intent and aforethought), and unlike the casting of a ballot, the conduct at issue here is inherently bad, not just contingent on the legal status of the actor.

    Under what respectable moral or legal theory can it be validly asserted that others – others than the alleged perpetrator – are responsible for such obvious criminal conduct, and that they must be blamed and held accountable? If there is such a theory of vicarious or group-based liability, let it be set forth for critical public examination!

    The outrage participants and propagators here can be compared to Jason Hochman blaming Mayor Turner for the murders committed by persons at large within City of Houston limits. Pure hyperbole. Meant to be incendiary in the figurative sense of the term. The mayor didn’t shoot or rob anybody, as far as we know. And he is obviously in no position to prevent all crime in the jurisdiction (except for refraining from criminal acts of his own). Not even totalitarian regimes are capable of preventing all crime.

    Who in the Lege or elsewhere would in their right mind *support* the use of a narcotic to make a victim pliable for sexual advances or worse, penetration? Same for lobbying firms. Which firm would in their right mind condone such conduct? If there exists such a lobbying outfit or other organization, where is the evidence?

    So that leads us to the question of what all the fuss and blame casting is about? It seems much rather fueled by this: Let no rape rumor or report go to waste to score political points and denigrate others on occasion of a wrong they had no part in committing. Badmouthing categorically, and with abandon.

    CULTURE AS BOOGYMAN ?

    And what does it even mean to go after and indict “the culture.”

    Culture — including political culture — is an abstract concept and people don’t uniformly agree on its content. Just look at the recent polls of Hobby School, DMN/UT Taylor and the Five Threads Project to get an idea about the differences in values, political orientations, problem perceptions, and policy preferences. Depending on how questions are asked, and response options are provided, evidence can be found of stark polarization, but overall it would be a simplification to say that the public is divided in a dichotomous way. That’s because matters of mind, sentiment, and emotion are multi-dimensional and cover different domains. While there may be two political camps, both clamoring noisily, not everyone identifies with them, or not very strongly.

    Even a single person’s beliefs cannot truly be captured and represented with mere labels. That’s because beliefs and feelings are multifold and complex and cannot be directly observed. Nor are folks necessarily consistent in their attitudes, not to mention the scenarios of indecision and having mixed feelings about some issue or event.

    Making statements about a collectivity as a whole is also fraught with difficulties. That’s because of compositionality of aggregates. Often, it makes much more sense to look for distributions of different opinions, as opposed to generalizing and attributing a single opinion to the aggregate as a whole. For example, you might say that Texas is a “red” state and claim that is correct, but in doing so you fail to acknowledge that all major cities are blue, and that Democratic candidates in statewide races receive more than 40% of the votes. That’s not a majority, but that’s a lot of people. Not a trifle.

    Same, analogously, for characterizing the “political culture” of Texas as conservative. True, those that have the say-so at the state level are conservative (and all statewide offices are currently held by Republicans), but that does not reflect the distribution of political orientations in the population as a whole, or the active part of the electorate, more narrowly speaking.

    UNIFORMITY IN JUDGMENT

    In contrast to the diversity of opinions/attitudes at the individual and aggregate level, however, we do have uniformity with regard to some judgments, namely what constitutes illegal behavior and is subject to criminal prosecution and punishment. And that’s what apparently we have here (assuming, for argument’s sake, the truth of sparse and as-yet unproven facts). There is no need to indict culture or people that didn’t commit the crime, and are not even suspected of having committed the alleged crime that is the subject of the rape-drug shitstorm on Twitter.

    LOCUS OF CONTROL AND MORAL/LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY

    Even if there were greater agreement on values and presuppositions (in the extreme form, value consensus), culture is not a human actor or agent, and cannot therefore be said to have any moral responsibility. To call for change without identifying who ought to do what, or what novel ideas should be inculcated — such as the notion of collective guilt of all for the action of any member of the group in question — is a rather meaningless exercise. Grandstanding, you might say.

    Instead of indicting culture and entire classes of persons defined by immutable characteristics (such as sex, race), we should challenge demagoguery and faulty reasoning akin to the following:

    SISTERHOOD SYLLOGISM

    Premise A: [Tweetstorm has it that] a person with pendant between legs used rape drug on female Lege staffer.

    Premise B: All men have pendant between legs.

    Conclusion: All men are rapists. [Presumptively at least unless and until proven otherwise.]

    Bonus Prescription flowing from the syllogism: While DPS is investigating, let’s waste no time indicting the culture. Male culture, of course. — The patriarchy, in academic jargon, now vulgarized and mainstreamed.

    The unmistakable motto for the upcoming gender war here: Male bad. Male bad. Male bad.

    Sounds like a bad case of misandry to this kibitzer of the contemporary discourse. Is that now a good thing? Sexism against thee, not me. Is our division along racial lines not bad enough? Do we stoke further division, acrimony, and recriminations on the basis of sex?

    A single instance of male-on-female crime — not even yet proven — has here been taken as unassailable proof of widespread nay endemic misogyny.

    What does that say about the state of reason and rational discourse in our — if you insist — contemporary culture?

    How long will it take the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board to publish another series of editorials explaining that — like voter fraud — the drugging of female staffers in the Texas Legislature with rape drugs is not a pervasive pattern or practice, and acknowledge that no one is actually in favor of it. Including the much-maligned male members of the species.

    Not to mention acknowledging the obvious: That the (alleged) conduct at issue is already against the law and subject to criminal punishment. Because our society, through the legislative process, has authoritatively so determined and provided for prosecution and penalties.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Wolf,

    Good write up overall. I agree with most of your observations, but I would take issue with a few things, and the crowd here would definitely take issue with some of it.

    Crowd issue:

    “Premise B: All men have pendant between legs.”

    I think the ‘science is settled’ for most of the folks here that some men don’t have pendants, they have periods instead. This seems to be both science AND an article of faith. To question that, as you have, is not just blasphemous, but incendiary.

    Something this commenter absolutely agrees that is happening right now, that also seems to be both settled science and an article of faith for the left:

    “The unmistakable motto for the upcoming gender war here: Male bad. Male bad. Male bad.

    Sounds like a bad case of misandry to this kibitzer of the contemporary discourse.”

    That’s absolutely true. Men, particularly White, super straight men, are definitely the enemy, and a target. You saw that as recently as last night, where “White supremacy” was vilified as the most serious problem in America. Most. Serious. Problem. And if you don’t accept that YOU are a bad person, and supplicate and self flagellate yourself, then yup, YOU are a dangerous White supremacist who must be attacked and suppressed at all costs. You must, at all times, virtue signal that you are “one of the good ones,” lest you be savagely attacked and canceled.

    I do disagree with your assertion that the mayor can’t do anything about the crime in Houston.

    The mayor, to the extent that he hires people to set policy, does indeed effect the crime rate. For example, when an appointed police chief makes it policy to stop arresting people for certain crimes, or to refuse to work with ICE to remove criminals not only from our city, but from our country, that has an effect on crime.

    We learned from the now out of favor Clinton crime bill, physical removal of criminals does indeed lower the crime rate (also aided by shifts in age demographics, of course). We learned from Rudy’s law and order policies, including the controversial “stop and frisk” and broken windows theory, policies, that yes, a city mayor or other similarly situated individual can indeed have an impact on crime. The other area, that mayors have a limited role in, is jobs. Heavy regulation and anti-business climates cause job losses. An employed populace, with a roaring economy, and emphasis on developing blighted areas is a very effective way of lowering crime. At least offer people an alternative to crime. Yes, there will still be criminals, but you can lower the crime rate with sensible policies.

    Finally, as to the general issue…..if possession of and use of a ‘date rape’ drug is illegal, and rape/sexual assault is illegal, then what, exactly, do we expect mandatory training for lobbyists to achieve? Are there really lobbyists, or anyone in the general public, that does not understand that rape, sexual assault, and illegal drugs are all, well, uh, illegal?

    Whether something did or did not happen, we already have all the laws needed to deal with things. There’s really nothing the legislature needs to do, or legislate. No knee jerk, feel good things are appropriate here. I think that’s Wolf’s main point here, correct me if I’m wrong, Wolf.

  4. […] here and here for the background. You can see the full statement here. Saying there’s not enough […]

  5. […] See here and here for the background. You can see the full statement here. Saying there’s not enough evidence to support the allegations is not the same as saying that nothing bad happened – to say “no crime occurred” is a tautology, since that is exactly what it means to not bring charges. We have due process for a reason, and this is the result. Maybe nothing did happen, or at least nothing that was ill-intentioned. Maybe it was too late for a drug test to render a judgment, since rohypnol metabolizes quickly. Maybe this was just another powerful guy getting away with it. We’ll never know for sure. If the lobbyist in question, whose name has been released by one right wing website, is innocent then this really sucks for him, since this incident will always follow him around. It’s going to suck even more for the woman who made the allegation, especially if it was true. […]