Government Crime Stoppers, a statewide group dedicated to exposing political corruption, has posted a reward for tips leading to convictions of legislators and staff at the Texas Capitol on sexual harassment or sexual assault charges.
Sexual misconduct by Texas politicians is a long-running and well-publicized problem for women reporters, staffers and women politicians, but several developments in the last year have focused even more attention on a problem that apparently is as blatant and widespread as ever.
Nationally, the development of the #MeToo movement has created a cultural shift across the nation. As more women speak up, headlines have become increasingly filled with allegations, indictments and convictions of celebrities and politicians who have used their position to take advantage of others.
In Texas over the last year, stories from the Daily Beast to the Houston Chronicle and Texas Tribune have chronicled the long record of sexual misconduct toward women at the Texas Capitol. In December, following a detailed story by Daily Beast, the Democratic women’s group Annie’s List called on state senators Carlos Uresti D-San Antonio, and Borris Miles, D-Houston, to resign.
Both men issued statements either denying that the misconduct had happened or refusing to comment on the allegations. Uresti resigned in June after he was convicted on unrelated fraud charges and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Miles, in the past, has been charged and acquitted of violent conduct not connected to sexual misconduct; he remains in office.
Last week, State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, made headlines when reports surfaced that the University of Texas is conducting an investigation into claims that he sent sexually explicit material to a graduate student.
In response to such cases, Government Crime Stoppers has posted a $10,000 reward for information regarding sexual harassment or assault by state legislators or their staff.
“All persons should expect dignity and respect from their coworkers and employers. Members of our state legislature and their staff should set the example on proper conduct and should be held to a higher standard,” said Laura M. Andersen, executive director of operations for GCS.
The organization has also posted rewards for information about an OIG investigation into Dallas’ housing and economic development division, the withholding of public information at Houston City Hall, for tips on the Dallas County Schools case, and more.
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