Last Updated on April 29, 2021 – 9:29 PM CDT
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune: Read More
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The Texas Department of Public Safety and Travis County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday “that there is not enough evidence to support” an allegation that a lobbyist used a date rape drug on a Capitol staffer and that “no crime occurred in this instance.”
“DPS has conducted a thorough investigation following allegations of drugging of a Capitol staffer by a lobbyist,” the joint statement said. “Together, we have concluded that … criminal charges are not appropriate.”
The statement did not name the lobbyist.
Last weekend, DPS confirmed that it was investigating the allegation, as first reported by the Austin American-Statesman. Officials though declined to comment on further details, including the names of anyone allegedly involved.
After news of the investigation surfaced, state lawmakers, staffers and other Capitol observers expressed outrage, with many House members declaring that they planned to ban from their offices any lobbyist or lobby firm associated with the accusation.
Meanwhile, one co-founder of the prominent Austin lobbying firm HillCo Partners told state lawmakers Sunday that the group had hired outside legal counsel and “a respected former law enforcement official” to launch an investigation into the matter. Another co-founder of the firm, Bill Miller, told The Texas Tribune later Sunday that one of its employees was “a person of interest” in the DPS investigation.
The latest allegation sparked this week another conversation about the prevalence of sexual misconduct around the Capitol — and prompted questions about whether the current system still allows such behavior.
On Monday, House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, said he was “disgusted that this sort of predatory behavior is still taking place in and around our Capitol,” referring to the allegation.
Phelan also called for a number of reforms to the chamber’s sexual misconduct policy. He said he had directed a House committee to establish an email hotline for staffers to submit reports or complaints of harassment in the workplace and another panel of lawmakers to change the chamber’s recently implemented sexual harassment prevention training to be completed in-person rather than virtually.
Lawmakers in both chambers have also filed legislation aimed at requiring lobbyists who register with the Texas Ethics Commission to complete sexual harassment training. Bills in the House and Senate were scheduled to be heard in committee in the two chambers Thursday.