In a resignation letter, Jones’ now-former staffers Kory Haywood, Catherine Mouer, and Yesenia Wences wrote, “We, as a collective of senior staff, have repeatedly attempted to curb your behavior and address the type of work environment you have bred over the last month.”
“But, to no avail; we haven’t seen any success,” they continued. “You have continued to endorse, encourage, and create an abusive and hostile work environment in the workplace without accountability for you or your relatives’ actions.”
The allegations include mistreating and threatening staff; misusing state resources for personal purposes, such as “discuss[ing] your personal finances and property taxes”; and facilitating her son Jiovanni’s relationship with an office intern.
“We are deeply troubled by the fact that you have actively covered up your son Jio’s inappropriate relationship with one of our interns, who is significantly younger than him and is in a power imbalance, and are now using your position to intimidate and silence your own staff members,” the letter adds, saying it may amount to “sexual harassment or a conflict of interest.” Furthermore, the trio alleges that Jones had Wences lie about her knowledge of that relationship.
Examples of the alleged mistreatment include calling staff from the shower and at all hours of the night, requiring them to chauffeur her to the airport late in the night, and involving them in her and her son’s personal and legal affairs.
The trio stated, “We have brought this issue and others to your attention on multiple occasions, but it appears that no action has been taken to address the matter. We can no longer continue to work in an environment where such toxic and unethical behavior is tolerated and condoned.”
They concluded by saying, “It is time you own your S.H.I.T,” a reference to Jones’ book “Owning My S.H.I.T!”
Jones could not be reached, but told Fox 26 before the letter was made public, “Working in the Texas Legislature is a stressful and demanding job, especially when you are in a daily fight to protect your constituents from attacks on their families, their civil rights, their schools, and their ability to control their own bodies.”
“Some on my staff have decided this job is not for them. I wish them good luck and success in their next endeavors.”
Cassi Pollock, a spokesperson for House Speaker Dade Phelan, told The Texan, “On Wednesday, the Speaker’s office learned of complaints against a member of the Texas House of Representatives.”
“The allegations are under review by the appropriate entities, as outlined in the rules of the Texas House. The Speaker’s office takes all allegations seriously and expects that this matter will be addressed and resolved as soon as possible.”
A week after the initial letter was sent to the speaker’s office, Jones released a statement denying any wrongdoing and criticizing the accuracy of her former staff’s portrayal of events.
“This letter that was sent to me and the Committee on House Administration, has triggered an investigation into the allegations,” she wrote. “I welcome that investigation and look forward to being vindicated of any wrong doing, and therefore will not speak to those allegations towards me directly as to not impede the work of the House General Investigating Committee.”
Jones then responded to the specific allegations about her son and another staffer.
“My ‘intern’ is a 26-year old woman with two degrees, one of which is a graduate degree and who is currently working on her doctorate degree. While the letter says that the ‘intern’ is significantly younger than him,’ my ‘intern’ is 26 and my son is 31,” Jones added.
“After visiting with my ‘intern’ that was wrongfully publicly identified in the letter. she categorically denies any wrong doing or participation in any inappropriate relationship with my son. Secondly, as a mother of a Black son, I also will not remain silent about the allegations made towards my son who also denies participation in any type of inappropriate behavior or relationship.”
Jones, a former Houston city councilwoman, is a freshman representative from Houston who succeeded longtime Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) after he retired.
Copies of both the letter from Jones’ staff and Jones’ April 5 letter can be found below.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.