Texas lawmakers, lobby firm react to allegations that a lobbyist gave date rape drug to Capitol aide

The Texas Capitol on April 12, 2021. (Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune)
The Texas Capitol on April 12, 2021. (Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune)

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After the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed Saturday it’s investigating an allegation that a lobbyist used a date rape drug on at least one Capitol staffer, a prominent Austin-based lobby shop said Sunday it had launched an internal investigation into the matter, telling state lawmakers in an email that the firm and its employees “do not and will not tolerate a culture where anyone is not valued with respect and dignity."

The DPS investigation, first reported by the Austin American-Statesman, stems from a complaint recently made by a Capitol staffer, though officials have so far declined to comment on further details — including the names of anyone allegedly involved.

“This is an ongoing investigation,” DPS spokesperson Travis Considine told The Texas Tribune on Saturday, “and further details cannot be released at this time.”

Spokespeople for Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, confirmed to the Tribune that their offices had been notified of the DPS investigation late last week.

On Saturday, state lawmakers, staffers and other Capitol observers denounced the alleged incident, with several House members declaring on social media that they were banning from their offices any lobbyist or lobby firm associated with the accusation.

“While the investigation is pending, the accused lobbyist(s) and their firm(s) are banned from my office; and, if true, will be permanently banned,” tweeted state Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Lubbock Republican who chairs the powerful House Calendars Committee, which decides what legislation makes it to the House floor for debate and for when.

A number of female House members, including both Republicans and Democrats, suggested that such an action is not enough.