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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The worst boss on Capitol Hill

It sounds like Sheila Jackson Lee takes the prize as the worst boss on Capitol Hill for her verbal abuse of her staffers.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas also hands out nicknames to the people who work for her. The Houston Democrat addressed one of her employees as “you stupid motherfucker.” And not just once, but “constantly,” recalls the staffer, “like, all the time.”

Another Jackson Lee aide recounts the time her parents came to Washington to visit: “They were really excited to come to the congressional office. They’re small town people, so for them it was a huge deal. They were actually sitting in the main lobby waiting area….[Jackson Lee] came out screaming at me over a scheduling change. Called me a ’stupid idiot. Don’t be a moron, you foolish girl’ and actually did this in front of my parents, of all things.”

Yet another staffer remembers requesting a meeting early on in her tenure to ask how best to serve the congresswoman. Jackson Lee’s response: “What? What did you say to me? Who are you, the Congresswoman? You haven’t been elected. You don’t set up meetings with me! I tell you! You know what? You are the most unprofessional person I have ever met in my life.” With that, Jackson Lee hung up the phone.

According to the same staffer, Jackson Lee “would always say, ‘What am I a prostitute? Am I your prostitute? You can’t prostitute me.’”

Capitol Hill is famous for its demanding, insensitive bosses. Yet even by the harsh standards of Congress, Sheila Jackson Lee stands out. She may be the worst boss in Washington. “It’s like being an Iraq War veteran,” says someone who worked for her. Strangers may say, “‘oh I know what you’ve been through.’ No, you really don’t. Because until you’ve experienced it…. People don’t tell the worst of the stories, because they’re really unbelievable.”

For some, a job in Jackson Lee’s office proved not just emotionally but physically perilous. One staffer recalls a frank conversation with his doctor, who told him he needed to quit. “It’s your life or your job,” the doctor told him, warning that the stress and long hours were wreaking havoc on his body.

Only a few on staff fought back. One of Jackson Lee’s drivers became so frustrated with her abuse the person pulled the car over and demand she stop: “She’s screaming and swearing. ‘M.F.’ everything. Finally I slammed on the brakes and told her to get the hell out of my car. I’m like ‘I can’t drive with you like this. Either get out, or you can calm down.’ And she’s like ‘you need to go or get fired.’ I’m like, ‘that’s fine. But I’m either leaving without you or you can calm down,’” the staffer said.

Jackson Lee then threatened to call the police and claim she was being held hostage in the car. But she finally did calm down when the staffer called her bluff, offering to flag down a Capitol Police officer to explain the situation.
The stories go on and on. She forces them to work late into the early hours of the day and makes them wait around for her, sometimes until midnight. Then she demands that they do everything for her with impossible alacrity, even going so far as to time them on how long it took them to get from the House floor to her office.

And then when she is criticized she jumps immediately to accuse critics of racism.
In 1997, for example, The Hill reported that the newly-elected congresswoman asked NASA officials whether the Mars Pathfinder photographed the American flag astronaut Neil Armstrong had planted on the surface of Mars. When it was pointed out that the flag in question was on the moon, not Mars, Jackson Lee cited bigotry. “You thought you could have fun with a black woman member of the Science Committee,” her then chief of staff wrote in a letter to the editor.

Jackson Lee recently blasted a Pepsi advertisement shown during the Superbowl in which a black woman throws a can of soda at her husband for ogling an attractive white woman next to them. “It was not humorous. It was demeaning — an African-American woman throwing something at an African-American male and winding up hitting a Caucasian woman,” she thundered from the House floor.

In 2009, she helped prevent Rush Limbaugh from becoming an NFL owner. “He does not represent the fullness of appreciation of athletes of all diverse backgrounds, no matter what he wants to pretend to say on his radio station,” Jackson Lee said.

In 2003, she demanded that more Hurricanes be named with African American-sounding names.

A former staffer recalls one revealing episode during the height of the financial crisis in the waning months of the Bush administration. Jackson Lee demanded a meeting with a top Treasury aide, even though she did not sit on any of the committees with jurisdiction over financial matters. As her car pulled up outside the Treasury, Jackson Lee told her driver to park directly outside the door.

Due to the proximity of the Treasury Department’s headquarters to the White House, Secret Service officers told the driver not to park there. After an argument with the agents, who kept telling the driver to back off, Jackson Lee finally emerged from the building.

As the car drove away, a Secret Service van flashed its lights behind them. “Keep driving,” Jackson Lee told her staffer. Ultimately, the driver pulled over in defiance of the boss’s wishes. At this point, Jackson Lee emerged from the car, screaming, “I’m Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee! Who do you think you are?” to a team of Secret Service agents.

Jackson Lee accused the “white” agent at the gate of racism, claiming she wouldn’t have to deal with “this stuff” when Barack Obama became president. She then filed a formal complaint with the Secret Service, which prompted an investigation. A Treasury official later explained that the accusation had been dismissed because the agent in question was Hispanic, not white.
However, despite her propensity to see everything in terms of race, she seems to save her worst behavior for her African American staffers.

Read the whole article. You can judge the character of a person by how they treat those who are powerless against them. So Sheila Jackson Lee's character is quite clear to all.


pumping-irony said...

Just goes to show that contrary to what a lot of the conventional wisdom thinks, the line between high-quality and low-quality individuals has nothing to do with their public politics, social or economic class, race, religion or any other such attribute. It all comes down to the individual him or herself.

equitus said...

Sheila for VP in 2012!!

lorraine_lanning said...

Yet her constituents continue to vote for her time and time again.

Do these people not have any spine? And what happened to workplace harassment laws? Don't they apply to Congress?

I don't take abuse in the workplace, from anyone.

Superdestroyer said...

Sheila Jackson Lee is a good example of why Republican outreach to blacks is a waste of time. Does anyone really believe that the blacks who vote for Rep. Lee are really conservatives or would ever vote for Republicans?

LargeBill said...

Lorraine hit exactly on the real problem. Sure Lee is a miserable wretched excuse for a human being. However, if it were not for the morons who continue to vote her into office she wouldn't be treating people like crap on our dime.

Pat Patterson said...

As opposed to some of the more than mentally challenged white Democrat and Republicn incumbents? If the right district can be found it would take the discover of the XIth through XVth Commandments to defeat them.