The Texas House of Representatives voted 147-0 on Tuesday to expel state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R) from its ranks after a committee recommended his dismissal over allegations of sexual misconduct with a 19-year-old aide.
Slaton resigned from his seat Monday, a day ahead of the vote. Legislative staffers brought a ladder to the House floor Tuesday to remove his name from the voting roll. Calls to Slaton’s campaign office were not answered.
The Texas House last expelled a legislator in 1927, for bribery charges.
The House’s general investigating committee released a report Saturday that accused Slaton, 45, of engaging in disorderly conduct — including harassment, serving alcohol to someone underage and abusing his position. The investigation was launched in April after a 21-year-old legislative intern and two 19-year-old aides filed complaints accusing Slaton of sexual harassment and retaliation.
The five-person bipartisan committee found that Slaton “engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a subordinate,” Rep. Andrew Murr (R), the investigating committee’s chair, said on the floor Saturday.
In the debate preceding the Tuesday vote to expel Slaton, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle condemned his behavior, with Murr saying his former colleague’s conduct does not meet “the minimum standards of conduct expected from a member” of the Texas House.
“No one in this chamber disagrees that this conduct was wrong,” Murr said. “We all agree that it cannot and will not be tolerated.”
In a resignation letter sent Monday to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Slaton did not mention the allegations against him, which he has denied. He wrote that he was looking forward to “spending more time with my young family.”
The legislative aides and intern who accused Slaton of wrongdoing said he’d helped them get alcohol multiple times, according to the committee’s report. One aide had been hired by the Republican lawmaker in January, the report states. The other two women worked in a different office.
Before midnight on March 31, Slaton invited the aide who worked in his office to his Austin condo, and three friends joined her to offer protection, the report states. Slaton poured the aide rum and coke until her vision was blurred and she felt “really dizzy,” according to the report. The aide stayed at Slaton’s condo when her friends left around 2 a.m., the report says.
The aide told investigators that alcohol hindered her judgment, “but now that I look back at it, it was definitely an inappropriate situation,” according to the report. She declined to tell investigators what sexual activity occurred or whether she provided consent, the report states.
The aide “could not effectively consent to intercourse and could not indicate whether it was welcome or unwelcome,” the report states.
The aide’s friends told investigators that the next morning, the aide took the emergency contraceptive Plan B and was driven to her apartment by Slaton, the report says. She told her friends that she’d had sex with Slaton, according to the report.
The next week, Slaton showed an email to the aide that claimed a staffer knew the pair were “sleeping” together and “nothing would happen as long as her and her friends keep quiet,” the report says. The aide and her friends felt threatened, the report says, and one told other members of the House about the events.
Ahead of the vote, Texas state Rep. Ann Johnson (D) — who serves as vice chair of the general investigating committee — said it was important for the young adults who “found themselves” in Slaton’s apartment to know that they “never were and are not the problem.”
“He is [the problem],” she said. “Our report shows that Bryan Slaton violated various provisions of our House rules and various Texas laws.”
Johnson noted in her remarks that Slaton, who took office in January 2021, did not address the allegations in his resignation letter.
“He’s not going to play the reformed man who’s atoning for his sins,” she said.
Slaton, she said, “is not worthy of the position of trust, much less power.”