Sheila Jackson Lee steps down from two powerful posts — but not from Congress

A former staffer in the congresswoman's office claims Jackson Lee fired her after the staff member reported a rape by a supervisor at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Jackson Lee was the foundation's board chair before stepping down Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has stepped down from leadership roles at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and on the Judiciary Committee's crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations subcommittee.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has stepped down from leadership roles at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and on the Judiciary Committee's crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations subcommittee.  Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, is stepping down from her two most powerful roles within congressional and House Democratic circles.

The 13-term congresswoman will no longer serve as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's board chairwoman and will temporarily step aside from her position as chair on the Judiciary Committee's crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations subcommittee, according to the New York Times.

At issue is her spring 2018 termination of a staffer known in court filings as "Jane Doe," who alleged that a supervising CBCF staffer raped her in 2015 when she was an intern for the foundation. Doe later went to work for Jackson Lee and claims that she informed the congresswoman's chief of staff that she planned to pursue legal action against the CBCF staffer and was fired several weeks later, according to BuzzFeed News — which first reported last week that the woman was suing Jackson Lee's office and the CBCF over the matter.

The report threw Jackson Lee's status within the House Democratic world into doubt, and several reports have since surfaced stating that CBCF officials pushed to remove her from that post.

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The CBCF is a leadership program for young African-Americans that offers fellowships and scholarships. It is closely tied to the powerful Congressional Black Caucus. Elsie L. Scott, interim president and CEO of the CBCF, thanked Jackson Lee in a statement Wednesday.

“We are grateful for Rep. Jackson Lee’s unswerving commitment to the Foundation, and her efforts to help shape and elevate our programming for the last two years as chair, and a number of years as a board member,” said Scott. “The congresswoman values the Foundation’s ideals and does not want to be a distraction during the legal proceedings of the suit filed against the CBCF.”

Gabe Schneider contributed to this report.