State. Rep. Bryan Slaton resigns ahead of expulsion vote over inappropriate relationship with aide
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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. The investigative panel’s report also found that he tried to intimidate others who knew of the incident so they would not speak about it.
In a statement, Republican Party of Texas chair Matt Rinaldi commended the House for responding swiftly to “the reprehensible actions of Representative Slaton,” which were first reported in early April. He said the misconduct detailed in the report “should never be tolerated and is proper grounds for expulsion.”
“These actions have betrayed the trust that the people of Representative Slaton’s district put in him as an elected official, and he has rightly resigned,” Rinaldi said. “We are encouraged that this investigation signals that the House has entered a new era of accountability where all members will be held to the same fair and high standards.”
Calls for Slaton’s resignation had grown since the report’s release Saturday. Over the weekend, two of the three Republican parties for the counties he represents had asked him to step down, and more than half of the 62-member State Republican Executive Committee had done the same by Sunday night.
By Monday, even his closest political supporters had left Slaton’s side. Texas Right to Life, a staunchly anti-abortion group that was a key supporter of Slaton’s political campaigns, revoked its endorsement Monday morning, 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. Andrew Murr, a Junction Republican who leads the committee, had planned a House vote Tuesday on Slaton’s expulsion.
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.
Gov. Greg Abbott must call a special election for a new state representative for House District 2, but that election cannot happen before the legislative session ends on Memorial Day. That means Slaton’s constituents will be left without representation for the final days of the session.
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