The Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously to expel state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R) yesterday, shortly after he submitted a letter of resignation. An internal state house investigation found that the married lawmaker had gotten a 19-year-old congressional aide drunk to the point that she could not meaningfully consent, had unprotected sex with her, and then threatened her if she told anyone what happened.
Even though he resigned on Monday, if he had not been expelled, Slaton would have been entitled to keep receiving his salary and per diem, as well as sit on committees.
The Texas Tribune reports that the vote was preceded by a “sometimes angry and tearful recounting of Slaton’s ‘graphic’ and ‘offensive’ behavior.” In a speech, state Rep. Ann Johnson (D) said that Slaton had a “systematic pattern of manipulation” and that he is the “type of man who steals innocence” and is “not worthy of a position of trust.”
After the 147-0 vote – only two-thirds were necessary to expel him – Slaton became the first lawmaker to be removed from the Texas Legislature since 1927.
His nameplate was removed from his desk and the vote tally board.
“Predatory behavior merits such a consequence,” Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said. “I hope the action we’ve taken here today sends a message that sexual harassment and inappropriate activities in the workplace will not be condoned and they are unacceptable.”
An internal complaint last month filed with the Texas legislature’s House General Investigating Committee alleges that Slaton contacted an unnamed aide after 10 p.m. on Friday, March 31 to invite her to his condo in Austin.
Slaton allegedly drank alcohol with the 19-year-old aide, giving her a large rum and coke and refilling it twice. In Texas, providing alcohol to a minor is a misdemeanor, punishable by a $4,000 maximum fine and up to a year in jail.
At the time, Slaton called the complaint “outrageous” via his lawyer. But he felt pressure to resign after the House General Investigating Committee released a 16-page report on Saturday that found that Slaton had engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct.
The report said that the aide was so drunk that she couldn’t “effectively consent to intercourse and could not indicate whether it was welcome or unwelcome.” He and the aide had unprotected sex and he drove her home after midnight. She got Plan B at a drugstore to prevent pregnancy, a medication that Slaton opposes.
After the meet-up, Slaton allegedly showed the aide fake emails which purported to know details of their late-night meeting. These emails were a sort of “loyalty test,” the complaint said, and Slaton allegedly told the aide not to discuss what happened with anyone.
The report also found other instances of Slaton giving alcohol to the aide and another woman under the age of 21.
The committee recommended Slaton be expelled from the chamber.
By Sunday, two of the three counties in his district and over half of the 62-member State Republican Executive Committee had called for him to resign. Even Texas Right to Life PAC, an anti-choice group, revoked its endorsement of him.
A vote was scheduled for today, but yesterday Slaton turned in a letter of resignation to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The letter didn’t mention the inappropriate relationship and instead said that he was resigning to spend more time with his family.
Slaton was one of the most vocal opponents of LGBTQ+ people in the Texas legislature, accusing drag queens of “grooming” young people. He supported a law banning minors from drag shows, introduced legislation that would give tax cuts to heterosexual couples with lots of kids, and introduced legislation punishing abortions with the death penalty.