HillCo Partners lobbyist accused of allegedly giving a Capitol aide a “date rape” drug

by | Apr 27, 2021 | Texas Legislature

On Saturday, The Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed they were investigating an allegation against Texas lobbyist group HillCo Partners after one of their lobbyists was accused of giving a Texas Capitol aide a “date rape” drug. 

On Monday, over 30 Texas representatives signed an “Open Letter of Support to Capitol Staff” addressing sexual allegations in the Capitol. 

“In recent years,” the lawmakers wrote, “the Legislature undertook a through review of our sexual harassment policies at the Capitol, resulting in a revised policy on ‘Appropriate Workplace Conduct’ in an effort to provide a strong statement against tolerating any form of harassment, to clarify a reporting process and potential disciplinary actions, as well as to ensure prohibition on retaliation.” 

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) addressed the allegations on the house floor on Monday. 

“These allegations shake our Capitol family to its core and I am disgusted that this sort of predatory behavior is still taking place in and around the Capitol,” he said. 

Phelan said he plans to create a email hotline so staffers can report cases of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace. 

Several Texas legislatures are banning HillCo Partners and other lobbyist groups from entering their office as a result of the allegation. 

Texas representative Jacey Jetton R- Fort Bend tweeted a statement saying, “NO LOBBYISTS PERMITTED IN THIS OFFICE.” 

But female representatives in the Capitol say just banning lobbyists from their offices is not enough.

In a tweet on Monday Rep. Ina Minajarez wrote, “Change the culture. Ensure she receives full support and the services she needs. Invest in the safety of our staffers and believe them if they ever outcry.” 

In an email to Capitol colleagues on Sunday, HillCo co-founder Buddy Jones sent this statement: 

“HillCo Partners joins the Capitol community in condemning any form of violence or other unwanted conduct against women and strongly supports the right of women to have their voices heard and believed. The reported incident is abhorrent and, once investigated and found to be accurate, should be dealt with in the strongest legal manner possible. The men and women of HillCO partners take these allegations extremely seriously. We do not and will not tolerate a culture where anyone is not valued with respect and dignity.”

When the rumors emerged yesterday on social media, HillCo Partners immediately hired outside counsel and a respected former law enforcement official to conduct an internal investigation. If facts come to light that anyone associated with HillCo partners had any involvement with such conduct, that person will be immediately terminated. HillCo will cooperate with law enforcement in its investigation. In the meantime we have taken aggressive steps internally to address this issue. We are resolute in our commitment in this regard. 

Austin attorney’s David and Perry Minton said in a statement that they represent someone being investigated in the incident, but wouldn’t identify their client. 

“We represent one of the parties that is purportedly being looked into regarding a Capitol staffer allegedly being drugged. At this stage we do not plan to identify this client publicly, but we can state that he has cooperated at every level requested to date. If, in fact, somebody drugged a capitol staffer, it was not our client nor any employee of HillCo Partners. We can state this with absolute certainty. We respectfully request that everyone involved proceed with caution before an innocent person’s life is ruined.” 

No charges have been filed against the lobbyist and the identity of the victim is unknown.

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

kennedy@texassignal.com | + posts

Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.

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