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That sexual harassment day of reckoning in Texas politics has begun

The Daily Beast follows up its initial reporting about the secret sexual predators of Texas politics with a story that names names. Two names, in particular. Rather than excerpt at length, allow me to quote the Texas Monthly Daily Post summary of the article:

Two Texas state lawmakers face new sexual harassment allegations. Democratic state Representatives Borris Miles and Carlos Uresti were both named in detailed claims of sexual harassment by several people, including former staffers and interns, in a story published by the Daily Beast late Wednesday night. One woman said that when she was a Texas legislative intern, Miles approached her and offered her cash, saying, “Bitch, you want to fuck with me tonight?” In a separate alleged incident, a Democratic state representative said that he witnessed Miles leaning out of a bus and loudly cat-calling women on the streets of downtown Austin. A former legislative staffer said he saw Miles forcibly kiss a woman at the W Hotel in Austin. “He offered to buy her a drink, kept trying to kiss her, and she kept trying to push him away,” the staffer told the Daily Beast. “He kept laughing about it. It was so creepy, and he had this big smile . . . He also has a tendency to call women out of their name when they turn him down. ‘Bitch,’ ‘ho,’ ‘whore.’ He doesn’t like being told ‘no.’” Uresti, meanwhile, apparently had gained a reputation for harassing women. “[Uresti] was one of the worst,” former Texas political reporter Karen Brooks told the Daily Beast. “He would check me out all the time . . . He gave me inappropriate hugs. He put his hands on me, he ogled me. I would not get in an elevator with him. If members were having dinner and he was going to be there, I stopped going.” Another former reporter said Uresti “put his tongue down my throat” without her consent after they went out for happy hour drinks. Uresti denied the allegations to the Daily Beast; Miles’s office did not return requests for comment.

Go read the whole thing. It’s clear these two are not the only offenders – Wendy Davis mentions but does not name a Republican legislator who groped her at the Capitol, and there are strong implications that there are many horror stories about lobbyists to be told, all just for starters – but for now we must reckon with Sens. Miles and Uresti. The fact that this story came out on the same day that US Senator Al Franken announced his resignation in response to allegations that were not as harrowing as the ones made here should not be lost on us. I’ve known Sen. Miles since he first ran for the Lege in 2006 against Al Edwards. I’ve never met Sen. Uresti, but I was glad to see him defeat the late Frank Madla in 2006. Both of them were improvements over the incumbents they ousted, and both have done good work in Austin. But both of them need to be held accountable for their actions. Both of them need to resign, and the sooner the better.

It brings me no joy to say any of this, but here we are. There are no excuses or justifications for their actions. It’s an eternal stain on all of us that the system in place at the Capitol allowed this sort of behavior – which, again, is very much not limited to Borris Miles and Carlos Uresti – with no consequences for anyone but the victims. Resigning won’t undo what has been done and it won’t give justice to those that Miles and Uresti are alleged to have harassed and assaulted, but it will at least be a small step in the direction of bringing those days and those ways to an end. We as Democrats and as decent human beings have a responsibility to the people our officials represent and to ourselves to lead the way on changing behavior. If it grates on Sens. Miles and Uresti, as it did on Sen. Franklin, that they are being pushed out when the likes of Donald Trump and Roy Moore and Blake Farenthold seem to be getting a pass, I understand. That is indeed an injustice. But this is what I have the power to affect right now.

Of course, nobody really cares what some guy on the Internet thinks. For the right thing to happen, Democratic elected officials and other high profile individuals must act as well. Annie’s List got the ball rolling by urging the two Senators to resign. Others need to follow their lead. The people who are peers and colleagues and donors and other influencers of Sens. Miles and Uresti need to use that influence and give the same message to them. Their behavior was completely unacceptable. They need to step down. And note that on a practical level, neither is on the ballot this year, so simply not filing for re-election in 2020 isn’t enough. The right answer is to step down now, so successors can be elected in time for the beginning of the 2019 session. Both Miles and Uresti have since put out statements denying the allegations, so this isn’t going to happen without a fight. It’s ugly and it’s discouraging, but there’s no other choice.

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27 Comments

  1. neither here nor there says:

    No one should be forced to resign, either Republican or Democrat. I have no reason not to believe what I read in the story or what I had previously read before I cast my first vote for Senator Miles. I don’t expect saints to be politicians, I want someone that will go fight for the people.

    Besides I find it amazing that they picked two persons of color to go after first, are they suggesting that white males all behave in Texas?

  2. Neither, you should keep in mind there aren’t that many Anglo Democratic men in the Lege. Just two in the Senate, and I believe three in the House. All the other white guys are Republicans. This story was written by the same reporter as the first one, and it was based on a list of “bad men” being passed around in mostly progressive spaces. As such, it is heavily oriented towards Democratic malefactors. There are plenty of Republican bad guys out there, there’s just less talk about them. When that starts to happen, I assure you there will be more white guys in the spotlight.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Kuff,

    This was originally a “get Trump” plan that got out of control and has gone wild. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I agree with Neither. These legislators have been convicted of no crimes (well, didn’t Miles get convicted of brandishing a gun at a party or something?) They are simply being accused of a bunch of random stuff well after the alleged incidents may or may not have taken place.

    Sooner or later somebody has to stand up and say no, I’m not going to play that game. My money is on Miles. Based on what I’ve read about him, he probably did do the boorish things he is being accused of. So what? The voters voted him in anyway. If they want someone else, they can vote next go round. Otherwise, these men need to start telling their accusers and the pearl clutchers to pound sand.

  4. brad m says:

    Neither, who is the “they” that you speak of regarding “they picked two persons of color to go after first”?

    Bill, the rules of engagement in politics are not the same as the rule of law. Nice try to make this seem like a friendly fire incident from a “get Trump” attempt.

  5. Flypusher says:

    Still peddling your revisionist history, I see. This is far bigger than Trump. This goes beyond politics, beyond media, beyond the entertainment industry. What you are seeing is the dam bursting from all the accumulated drips of men abusing power for a long time. The people in the spotlight are just the ones easiest to see.

    Should everyone accused get their hearings/days in court? Absolutely. Hopefully Trump will have the opportunity to answer to that very soon in the defamation suit that is ongoing right now.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    Brad:

    I’m assuming Neither is referring to the pu$$y hat wearing militant, man hating feminists. Sure, they started out hating only a certain type of man, white, straight, and Christian, but now it looks like ANY man is fair game. You have to admit, this whole thing has gotten out of control. It reminds me of the Salem witch trials. “He’s a witch! Get him!” Accusations are enough to destroy someone.

    It won’t stop until men start fighting back. I’m betting Borris is a fighter, and if so, good for him for leading the push back here in Texas.

  7. neither here nor there says:

    I have heard stories about the womanizing by one of those state senator for way over 10 years.

    I can’t recall the guy Miles ran against, but he was the better candidate. For all I know it some why prejudice woman who was offended that someone thought she was for sale. Maybe there were stories out there, we don’t know everything and certainly nothing about her.

    Churchhill at a party, talking to a young woman. Madam see that man over there? He was a very wealthy good looking man. She says yes. Madam if I give you a million dollars would you sleep with him? She thinks a while and says yes. Madam see that man over there? It was an old ugly poor man? She says yes? If I give you 10 dollars will you sleep with him? She gets all upset and says what type of woman do you think I am? Madam I already know what type of woman you are I am just trying to determine the lowest price.

  8. neither here nor there says:

    some white

  9. Karen says:

    Dealing with sexual harassment and predation is not a partisan activity. When politicians get called on the carpet the fallout can be political, but there is no reason to use a person’s party membership to decide how to respond to claims like the ones against Miles and Uresti.

    When Neither says he wants his politicians to “fight for the people,” do you think that a guy like Miles or Uresti or Roy “Humbert Humbert” Moore or Trump is going to fight for women’s rights and needs? The way a lawmaker behaves toward women privately is going to bleed into your decisions in the statehouse or the US Congress. Anyone who treats women like objects and property can just pack up their stuff and go home.

    Bill Daniels is worried about a witch hunt. In my experience most men do not behave in a way that would lead someone to make these kinds of claims against them. While there probably are women out there who make false claims, experience (and data!) shows that they are the minority. When a person loses their position because of claims like these, there is never just one woman. Why is that? My advice to Bill is to not worry about men getting hounded out of office because of lies.

  10. Robbie Westmoreland says:

    Now, let’s be fair. I’m sure if a male legislator was grabbing Bill or Manny’s butt and suggesting that they fool around some, Bill and Manny would just laugh it off as long as the legislator was otherwise a capable politician. That’s just how Bill and Manny roll. They would not be creeped out and want to avoid being around that legislator. They would not feel demeaned and violated. It wouldn’t affect them in the slightest.
    Heck, on some level, I think Bill and Manny would be flattered that a guy thought enough of them to want to grab their butts and suggest doing the nasty. Wouldn’t you, Bill and Manny? Don’t try to deny it. We know how you are.

  11. neither here nor there says:

    Karen are you suggesting that Miles does not fight for “Women” rights?

    On page 21, http://prochoicetexas.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2016-Voter-Guide-1.pdf

    Here is are so the votes that he has cast, https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/59415/borris-miles#.Wir7WjdryUk

    Robbie when I was under 18 I did have a man grab me, but not by the butt. I have also had women do that? So I am not sure what you are getting at. But I can tell you that in my youth there were not too many people that would F*** with me. I have scars to prove the street fights I have been in.

    So you can take your wimpy self and do what ever you do that gets you off. If you know who I am then you know that my phone number and address are public. Besides go read the story and tell me where Miles grabbed her butt. In fact he was not even the focus of the story that broke nationally. Ignorant fools like you are what keep the Harris County Democratic party down. Don’t think that the Democratic Party is doing well because of what they do, thank Trump. Let us see how the Gay controlled Democratic Party does if they start pissing off the Black community.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/women-in-texas-politics-started-their-own-shtty-men-list-a-year-ago

  12. Joel says:

    Sooner or later someone has to say no im not resigning?

    You mean like the president? Or farenthold? Or Moore?

    Sooner or later old white guys need to learn when to stop mansplaining.

  13. Bill Daniels says:

    @Robbie;

    The fact you think making homophobic accusations is some kind of put down says a lot more about you than it does about Manny and me. Way to stick a finger in the eyes of our GLBT allies by implying that there would be something wrong with same sex flirtation. Nice to know how you really feel.

    @Joel:

    I’ve already said in another thread that Farenthold has to go. Why? Because he paid off a woman, with our tax dollars. I’d say a payoff is an admission of guilt, and even if it isn’t, it was using my tax money to solve his own personal problem. That breach of fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer isn’t acceptable. Contrast that with the President and soon to be Senator Moore. Both of them have vigorously denied the allegations against them. Their accusers were conveniently recruited to bring them down, and with respect to Moore, the only tangible evidence is an admittedly faked yearbook.

    But let’s get back to Borris Miles. Yeah, I can believe that he might be a little rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. So. What. He seems like he is going to stand up and push back, and I support him on that.

    Oh, and hey, congrats. Just like Robbie, you’ve tipped your hand, showing your deep seeded racism. I don’t know how old, white guys hurt you, but you seem fixated on trying to take them down. This isn’t a race issue, or sexual orientation issue, it’s a gender issue. Do you hate all men, or just white men? Just curious.

  14. neither here nor there says:

    Karen and some of the no nothings that butted in, I suggest you read this article from that conservative online magazine, Salon.com – that is a joke it is a liberal magazine or progressive if you prefer

    https://www.salon.com/2017/12/09/sacrificing-al-franken-in-order-to-capture-the-moral-high-ground-is-not-a-strategy/

  15. Bill Daniels says:

    Karen,

    Let’s talk about the case of Trent Franks, the AZ legislator forced out after staffers allege he asked them about being surrogate mothers, presumably because his wife is barren. Here’s my questions. This sounds like a couple desperate to have a baby. Do you think maybe the wife also asked around in her circle of coworkers if any of them would be willing to do this thing for her and her husband? Would we be sharpening up the pitchforks to go after her, if she did the same thing?

    It’s a weird, maybe uncomfortable, request, but is it sexual harassment? Is it something that should end a person’s career? What if it was a female legislator that made the same request of her staffers? She need to be run out of town on rails?

  16. Paul Kubosh says:

    Men who are in a position of authority over women should not hit on, make passes at, flirt, or sexually harass any woman they have authority over. They are hands off. You should treat them like they are married and off limits. There are other fish in the sea. Fish elsewhere.

  17. Steve Houston says:

    “People who are in a position of authority over other people should not hit on, make passes at, flirt, or sexually harass anyone they have authority over. They are hands off. You should treat them like they are married and off limits. There are other fish in the sea. Fish elsewhere.”

    I fixed that for you PK and as it reads now, I completely agree.

  18. neither here nor there says:

    PK that is correct, and I want to point out that the article was aimed at Miles and one other. The accuser was not an employee or someone under him.

    But I will go further than man should not raise their hands at any woman.

  19. Bill Daniels says:

    Steve,

    If you’d like to make that the hard and fast (no pun intended) rule going forward, great, but let’s not make that an ex post facto edict. How many currently married or divorced people started a relationship in exactly that manner? How many Doctors ran off with a nurse or therapist. How many secretaries ended up marrying the boss?

    The way things are going these days, a guy or girl would have to get a signed, notarized statement of agreement for anything said or done. You’re practically pushing America to apply the Pence principle. The pendulum has swung too far. Not the first time.

  20. Steve Houston says:

    Bill, that advice was taught at a top MBA program 30+ years ago but I’d be supportive of making it apply going forward as well. While the advice may have been routinely ignored and even might have led to some fine marriages, I suspect those were the exception rather than the rule. Having managed a significant number of people over the years, I’ve seen enough sour grapes accusations made to justify caution and it’s getting worse of late.

  21. Steve Houston says:

    Bill, that advice was taught at a top MBA program 30+ years ago but I’d be supportive of making it apply going forward as well. While the advice may have been routinely ignored and even might have led to some fine marriages, I suspect those were the exception rather than the rule. Having managed a significant number of people over the years, I’ve seen enough sour grapes accusations made to justify caution and it’s getting worse of late.

  22. […] Steve Houston on That sexual harassment day of reckoning in Texas politics has begun […]

  23. Flypusher says:

    ” Contrast that with the President and soon to be Senator Moore. Both of them have vigorously denied the allegations against them. Their accusers were conveniently recruited to bring them down, and with respect to Moore, the only tangible evidence is an admittedly faked yearbook.”

    More revisionist history. We have AUDIO of Trump admitting to the things he’s accused of. Plenty of his accusers came out on their own after the tape surfaced, and as for the ones “recruited”, your indignation over the fact that reporters follow leads would be laughable except it’s this sort of spin and distortion that contributes to today’s toxic politics. He’s now trying to claim that it isn’t him on those tapes, and his cult following will swallow that hook, line, and sinker, but no one else is.

    The case against Moore does not stand or fall on the yearbook straw you keep clutching. Bad on her for not telling the whole truth, but her accusation is separate from the others. Enough Independent accusations with enough corroborating testimony from other witnesses can make a case. It was enough to take Weinstein down.

  24. […] here for the background. Since this story was published, Sen. Kolkhorst has agreed to hold a public […]

  25. Bill Daniels says:

    I know when to eat crow. Congrats, Dems, you won a big one in Alabama last night. That was a huge win, and you all should be celebrating right now.

  26. […] Bill Daniels on That sexual harassment day of reckoning in Texas politics has begun […]

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