Under mounting pressure, Rep. Bryan Slaton resigns before expulsion vote in Texas House
Rep. Bryan Slaton resigned from the Texas House on Monday after an investigative panel found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 19-year-old woman on his staff, providing her with enough alcohol before their encounter that she felt dizzy and had double vision.
Pressure had mounted on Slaton to resign since Saturday, when the House General Investigative Committee released a 16-page report finding he had engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with an aide. The committee of three Republicans and two Democrats recommended that Slaton be the first state representative expelled from the body since 1927.
Texas Right to Life, a staunchly anti-abortion group that was a key supporter of Slaton’s political campaigns, revoked its endorsement Monday, saying it was a "Christian organization" that held its staff, board members, scholarship recipients and political endorsees to high moral standards.
"In light of recent reports and the findings of the Texas House General Investigating Committee, Texas Right to Life PAC has decided to formally revoke our endorsement of Representative Bryan Slaton and is praying for a biblical response for all those involved," Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokesperson for the group, wrote in a statement.
Slaton, 45 and married, is among the most socially conservative lawmakers in the chamber and has been one of the loudest voices this session for cracking down on drag shows and decrying drag artists as "groomers" who want to sexualize kids.
Rep. Bryan Slaton's resignation letter
Calls for the Royse City Republican’s resignation began to grow soon after the committee report was provided to House members while they were meeting Saturday. The report also found that he tried to intimidate others who knew of the incident so they would not speak about it.
Rep. Andrew Murr, a Junction Republican who leads the committee, said he intends to have the House vote Tuesday on Slaton’s expulsion.
The Republican parties of Hunt and Hopkins counties, two of the three counties Slaton represents, have called on him to resign.
On Sunday, the Texas House Freedom Caucus, a group that includes some of the most socially conservative lawmakers in the chamber who are usually politically aligned with Slaton, also called for his resignation.
"The abhorrent behavior described in the report requires clear and strong action," the caucus said in a statement. "He should resign. If he does not, we will vote to expel him Tuesday."
Later that night, 36 members of the 62–member State Republican Executive Committee, party activists who help set the agenda for the party, also called for his resignation, calling his conduct "wrong and unacceptable." They were joined by the party’s vice chair, Dana Myers, and secretary Vergel Cruz. Three more committee members who could not be reached Sunday night added their names to the call for resignation Monday morning.
That action ran contrary to the approach taken by the party’s chair, Matt Rinaldi, who said he would "reserve further comment until the House has an opportunity to deliberate and vote on the recommendations of the committee."
At least three lawmakers had already called for Slaton’s resignation before the report’s release: Reps. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, and Ana-Maria Ramos, D-Richardson. Cain and Toth are members of the Freedom Caucus.
Also on Monday, the Young Conservatives of Texas joined the calls for Slaton to resign and urged the House to follow the committee’s recommendation without hesitation if he did not.
"The Young Conservatives of Texas fully support his expulsion and will score the vote in our legislative ratings," the group wrote in a statement.
If a vacancy occurs, Gov. Greg Abbott can call a special election for a new state representative for House District 2, but that election could not happen before the legislative session ends on Memorial Day. That means Slaton’s constituents would be left without representation for the final days of the session.
This story originally appeared in the Texas Tribune. READ MORE: Rep. Bryan Slaton resigns before House expulsion vote