Rep. Bryan Slaton resigned his position in the Texas House on Monday, one day before the body was expected to vote on whether to expel him from office.
A House investigative committee found the Republican lawmaker from Royse City had sexual intercourse with a 19-year-old staffer after providing alcohol to her, then discouraged anyone from reporting his conduct.
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán, who covers the Capitol for the Texas Newsroom, said Slaton’s conduct came to the attention of his fellow lawmakers earlier this year.
“Last month, the Texas House held a vote on its proposed budget, but Representative Bryan Slayton was not in attendance that day. And that was interesting because Slaton had filed 27 amendments to the budget bill,” he said. “Our colleagues at the Texas Tribune broke the story that a complaint had been filed against Slaton over an inappropriate relationship” with his aide, initially referred to as an intern.
The issue was then taken up by the House Internal Investigations Committee, who contracted with a third party to conduct an investigation.
“They ended up coming out with a report recommending Slaton’s expulsion. This happened last weekend,” Martínez-Beltrán said. “The investigation found that Slaton gave alcohol [to the aide]. He also had sex with her while she was intoxicated. The committee said she couldn’t consent in that state. Also, according to the report, he tried to intimidate some of the witnesses and he hasn’t shown remorse to any of this.”
Despite Slaton’s resignation, the vote over his expulsion is still scheduled for Tuesday.
“Representative Andrew Murr, who is the chairman (of the investigations committee), posted on Facebook that under Texas law, Slaton is considered to be an officer of Texas until a successor is elected and takes the oath of office,” Martínez-Beltrán said. “He pretty much is trying to continue with this vote so then a special election can be scheduled.”
The threshold to expel someone is pretty high, Martínez-Beltrán said: Two-thirds of the Texas House would have to vote in favor of the motion to expel.
“Political observers, they say that it has been nearly 100 years since a member was expelled. So it’s been a really, really long time. And this is an important moment,” Martínez-Beltrán said. “We’ve seen resignations in the past for other reasons, but I think this particular one with Slaton, it comes after this damning report that found him again, that he potentially violated state law and also violated his oath of office.”
Martínez-Beltrán said Slaton has been tight-lipped about his resignation.
“A few weeks ago when we started hearing about these rumors, Slaton’s lawyer called the allegations outrageous. But we haven’t heard anything from Slaton (since),” Martínez-Beltrán said. “In fact, we saw him last week at the Capitol, but we haven’t seen much of him, either.”
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify the position of Slaton’s staffer. She is a legislative aide.