Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.
The Texas Department of Public Safety and Travis County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday “that there is not enough evidence to support” an allegation that a lobbyist used a date rape drug on a Capitol staffer and that “no crime occurred in this instance.”
“DPS has conducted a thorough investigation following allegations of drugging of a Capitol staffer by a lobbyist,” the joint statement said. “Together, we have concluded that ... criminal charges are not appropriate.”
The statement did not name the lobbyist, and officials have not offered further details — including the names of anyone allegedly involved — since DPS confirmed it was investigating the allegation, as first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
Earlier this week, though, after DPS confirmed it was investigating the allegation, Bill Miller, a co-founder of the prominent Austin-based HillCo Partners, told The Texas Tribune that one of its employees was "a person of interest" in the investigation.
In a statement after Thursday's news, Miller said that neither the firm nor the employee "had absolutely anything to do with the" allegation and said "DPS found we are completely clear of any and all wrongdoing."
"The announcement today confirms our own internal investigation into the issue," Miller said. "We commend law enforcement for a forceful and swift investigation into this serious matter."
After news of the investigation surfaced Saturday, state lawmakers, staffers and other Capitol observers expressed outrage, with many House members declaring that they planned to ban from their offices any lobbyist or lobby firm associated with the accusation. By Sunday, Buddy Jones, another co-founder of HillCo, told state lawmakers in an email that the group had hired outside legal counsel and “a respected former law enforcement official” to launch an investigation into the matter.
Meanwhile, Austin lawyers David and Perry Minton, who said earlier this week they were representing a person "purportedly being looked into" for the investigation, said in a statement Thursday that the allegation was "100% false."
"It is our opinion that the individual or individuals involved in this outrages and immoral scheme [of making the allegation] should be held accountable by their employers and then prosecuted by our new district attorney," the two said.
The latest allegation sparked another conversation this week about the prevalence of sexual misconduct around the Capitol — and prompted questions about whether the current system still allows such behavior.
On Monday, House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, said he was “disgusted that this sort of predatory behavior is still taking place in and around our Capitol,” referring to the allegation.
Phelan also called for a number of reforms to the chamber’s sexual misconduct policy. He said he had directed a House committee to establish an email hotline for staffers to submit reports or complaints of harassment in the workplace and another panel of lawmakers to change the chamber’s recently implemented sexual harassment prevention training to be completed in person rather than virtually.
Lawmakers in both chambers have also filed legislation aimed at requiring lobbyists who register with the Texas Ethics Commission to complete sexual harassment training. Bills in the House and Senate were scheduled to be heard in committee in the two chambers Thursday.