Outspoken Sheila Jackson Lee refuses to speak about Grammys

politics | Feb 18, 2015 | By Martin Barillas

Questions still swirl around congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and her attendance at the 2015 Grammy Awards on February 8. Democrat Jackson Lee represents the 18th Congressional District of Texas in the House of Representatives and is a frequent advocate of income equality and social justice.  A reporter from KPRC-TV asked the legislator “Did you pay for the trip to L.A?”  In response, Jackson Lee deferred to her staffers, saying  “I let my staff have all my information and I let my staff handle it. And I will address the question…” as she stepped away.
 
The congresswoman would not answer questions related to the social media frenzy unleashed by television reports of her attendance at the Hollywood event. Instead, a woman identified as “Tonya” intervened with the reporter to say that Jackson Lee did not want to speak. The television report indicated that a staffer reiterated that Jackson Lee had paid for her Grammy attendance out of her own pocket.
 
However, emails from Spero News requesting clarification went unanswered.
 
"The congresswoman was there by herself and she was not a guest of any particular artist," said the congresswoman’s communications Michael J. McQuerry, according to the Houston Chronicle. Also attending the Grammys was Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)  - the chair of the Democratic National Committee. According to Wasserman Schultz’s office, the fee for attending the soirée came out of her campaign funds.  Wasserman Schultz has accused Republicans of being indifferent to the struggles of lower-income Americans. “There is too wide a gap between people who are doing really well and people who are still struggling,” she said at an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
 
As for Jackson Lee, she has also recently lambasted Republicans. In a series of tweets, Jackson Lee wrote:
 
*  If @HouseGOP allows @DHSgov to run out of funding, FEMA's preparations for future disasters would be crippled. #DontShutDownOurSecurity
*  Republicans are still wasting time appealing to extremists in their party rather than addressing the challenges our country faces.
 
Jackson Lee is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. In addition, she is a member of the board of directors of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
 
In a recent statement advocating expanded family leave legislation, she wrote:  “Over the next two years, I and other Democrats are going to be fighting for bigger paychecks for middle class families.  And we are also going to be fighting for family-friendly policies for middle class families – such policies as paid sick leave and paid family leave – in order to give these working parents the tools they need to be both productive employees at the workplace and successful parents back at home.”
 
In October 2014, Jackson Lee was again named the “meanist” member of Congress by The Washingtonian – an influential DC-based publication. According to the Houston Chronicle, former staffers for the outspoken legislators cited the congresswoman’s “erratic” and “abusive” behavior, which includes attending as many as five funerals in a single day to ask mourners to allow her to deliver remarks. Her office has one of the highest staff turnover rates of any member of Congress.
A native of New York, Jackson Lee is a graduate of Yale University and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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