A profane recording of the voice of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was released ahead of Houston’s mayoral election.
Reporters have obtained the recording that’s believed to be a conversation from at least half a decade ago. Investigators are taking a closer look at it but hasn’t independently authenticated the recording.
It allegedly includes Jackson Lee’s response to someone who didn’t have the information she was looking for. That person told her someone named Jerome had it.
“When I call Jerome, he’s going to be sitting up there like a fat a**, stupid idiot talking about what the f*** he doesn’t know. Both of y’all are f*** ups,” the person in the recording says.
Investigators counted 17 curse words in the one-minute, 35-second copy of the recording.
In a statement to our partners at the Houston Chronicle, who first reported this, Jackson Lee’s mayoral campaign called it political, though they wouldn’t confirm or deny that it was her voice.
They also blamed conservative bloggers and backers of fellow mayoral candidate John Whitmire.
His campaign denied having anything to do with it, saying directly in a statement: “To try to accuse our campaign of leaking it is just an attempt to take away attention from what is on the recording.”
Dr. Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University, had this to say about where it could have come from.
“It really doesn’t make sense for the Whitmire campaign to have released this,” Jones said. “He already was assured a spot in the runoff, and this kind of release is unlikely to keep her from the runoff. If we’re pointing fingers, I think it’s more likely to be a former or current staffer who simply wants to hurt the congresswoman.”
In a statement released by Jackson Lee on Monday night, the mayoral candidate admitted that the recording is of her voice.
“But when I fall short, I want the people I represent to know that it is because I’m standing up for them – not me,” Jackson Lee said. “To anyone who has listened to this recording with concern, I am regretful and hope you will judge me not by something trotted out by a political opponent, that worked to exploit this, and backed by extreme Republican supporters on the very day that polls open, but from what I’ve delivered to Houstonians over my years of public service.”
There have long been allegations that Jackson Lee treats her staff poorly. In 2019, people reported that a former member of her staff filed a lawsuit that claimed Jackson Lee and her office mishandled a report of sexual assault.
Jackson Lee released the following statement on Monday night:
“I want to convey to the people of Houston that I strongly believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that includes my own staff. I know that I am not perfect. I recognize that in my zeal to do everything possible to deliver for my constituents I have in the past fallen short of my own standards and there is no excuse for that. I am passionate about serving my constituents. I want the best for all of them.
At heart, I am someone who tells it straight. I know that as much as that is a strength, it can sometimes be a challenge to balance. But when I fall short, I want the people I represent to know that it is because I’m standing up for them – not me. To anyone who has listened to this recording with concern, I am regretful and hope you will judge me not by something trotted out by a political opponent, that worked to exploit this, and backed by extreme Republican supporters on the very day that polls open, but from what I’ve delivered to Houstonians over my years of public service.
Many staff have worked in my office and many of them have gone on to bigger and better opportunities, and others as well have returned to work with me again. Interns in my office leave with actual constituent service and legislative experience. I want each of them to know that the work we accomplish would never be possible without their hard work and dedication. Working as a public servant is demanding, but it is my calling. I expect excellence at all times and I know that it is because of their commitment that I am able to fulfill my duties as an elected official. I will never forget the debt of gratitude I and so many others owe them.
Moving forward, I want the people of Houston to know that my vision for our city, as mayor, is unwavering. I am dedicated to addressing the pressing issues that our community faces, such as crime and public safety, education, healthcare, affordable housing, and economic and greater job development. I’m excited about the opportunities to secure more federal funds and developing public private partnerships for the city. I am committed to making Houston a better place for all of us, and the sooner we can refocus on the real issues we face instead of political attacks and stunts, the sooner we can achieve these goals. I look forward to uniting this very diverse city and recognize that our strength is in the work we will do together.”