Texas Lawmaker Investigated After All Staffers Resign

They allege State Rep. Jolanda Jones was demanding and 'physically threatening'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2023 8:24 AM CDT
Texas Lawmaker Investigated After All Staffers Resign
Rep. Jolanda Jones gives a speech on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, during a rally to demand lawmakers address the overdose crisis in Texas, legalize Fentanyl test strips and put in place other harm reduction measures.   (Sara Diggins/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Texas State. Rep. Jolanda "Jo" Jones is facing an investigation after her entire staff resigned Thursday, levying a host of allegations against the freshman Democrat. In a leaked resignation letter, Chief of Staff Kory Haywood, Legislative Director Catherine Mouer, and District Director Yesenia Wences describe an "abusive and hostile" work environment involving harassment, physical threats, immoderate requests, and improper personal and professional relationships, per KTRK. They claim, without evidence, that Jones—the first openly gay Black member of the state legislature—engaged in "physically threatening behavior in public view that has made staff feel unsafe," per the Houston Chronicle.

They also say the criminal defense lawyer, a former Houston city council member and Houston Independent School District trustee, threatened to fire staff on a daily basis and used state resources for personal needs. They claim she repeatedly demanded staff drive her to and from the airport between 12am and 3:30am and made calls "at all hours of the night and on weekends to discuss work." They also allege Jones gave her son, Jiovanni, who works as general counsel at a lobbying firm, a say in state business and hid an inappropriate relationship he had with a younger intern, per the Chronicle and KRIV.

"We can no longer continue to work in an environment where such toxic and unethical behavior is tolerated and condoned," the letter states. "It is time for you to show real leadership by taking immediate action to address these issues, rather than covering them up." Jones did not respond to the allegations directly but said "working in the Texas legislature is a stressful and demanding job" and "some of my staff have decided this job is not for them." The Texas House General Investigating Committee is investigating to determine if there was wrongdoing, per KTRK. According to the Chronicle, Jones was accused of retaliating against an employee who'd complained about improper use of city resources as a council member, though the complaint was thrown out. (More Texas stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.