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Whitemire involved in lawsuit

I didn’t get around to this story yesterday, in which a bartender who was fired from an Austin watering hole has sued her former employer for allegedly refusing to serve State Sen. John Whitmire.

In her lawsuit, Rebekah L. Lear said she lost her job at the bar because she refused to serve Whitmire a second scotch on the night of March 8. Lear also alleges that Whitmire threatened to have her fired.

Lear claims her manager later told her that “we never refuse senators,” in a conversation that was recorded, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit does not specify the damages Lear is seeking.


The lawsuit says Whitmire arrived at the Cloak Room on March 8 “acting intoxicated” and with a “glazed look in his eyes.” Lear, who was working alone, served him the “J&B and water” that he requested, according to the lawsuit, but gave him a glass of water when he asked for another scotch. Lear told him she couldn’t serve another drink because he was intoxicated, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses Whitmire of threatening to call the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and have Lear fired if she didn’t serve him another drink.

After Whitmire approached Lear and said he “would have her job,” Lear said she would call the police if he didn’t settle down, the lawsuit says.

“He responded that the police would not come because all he would have to do was to make a phone call,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Whitmire made more threats and then left.

[Lara Wendler, Whitmire’s legislative director,] said she and four other people were with Whitmire that night at the bar. She said Lear refused to serve Whitmire even one drink and never told him that she thought he was intoxicated.

If what Ms. Lear says in this suit is proven to be true, then Sen. Whitmire’s actions were despicable and inexcusable. Today, we hear Whitmire’s side of the story.

Whitmire on Thursday disputed many of the allegations in the lawsuit. The Houston Democrat said he had been drinking before arriving at The Cloak Room, but was not intoxicated.

“I was in absolutely responsible condition,” he said. He added that he was not driving.

Whitmire said Lear never served him any alcohol. He said when she delivered an initial round of drinks to the table, he discovered his was water and wanted to know why.

“She said she was told not to give me a drink. I thought it was a joke,” Whitmire said.

He pressed the bartender as to who told her not to serve him, but said he did not threaten to have her fired or call the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission as alleged in the lawsuit.

“I was not upset about not having a drink,” Whitmire said. “I was concerned about who had told her not to serve me a drink. I thought I had a right to know that.”

That’s very different, both in terms of facts and interpretation. If Whitmire’s version is true, then one can see how Ms. Lear might have felt threatened, but it doesn’t rise to the level of wrongdoing on the Senator’s part. It’ll be very interesting to hear what all the witnesses have to say. We’ll see.

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  1. Bill says:

    I believe the Senator on this one, the Cloak Roam is a fav for eveyone at the Capitol, and I seriously doubt that their staff would ever pressure any employee out.

  2. Tim says:

    Here comes the he-said-she-said.

    I suspect the truth is somewhere in between the two stories. It usually is.

    Unless she was fired for some other reason and has a grudge against Whitmire, though, I don’t know why she’d make up all these elements of the story. I have trouble believing his story is 100% true based on that.

    And would the senator be so brazen — nay, stupid — as to threaten to obstruct justice by stopping the police from getting involved, and sicking the TABC on her?

    Frankly, neither side’s version completely passes the smell test. Something likely happened there beyond what the senator is implying, IMO, but she may be embellishing things for the lawsuit.