Several senior staffers have resigned from the office of Texas State Rep. Jolanda Jones (D) of Houston, alleging that she created a “hostile workplace.” Jones, a freshman congresswoman, was sworn into office in May 2022 after winning a special election.
In a letter obtained by Houston’s Fox 26 and The Texas Tribune, the staffers accused Rep. Jones of requiring them to perform work unrelated to state business and outside of regular business hours, regularly threatening to fire employees, and involving them in personal affairs. They claim to have tried addressing the issue with the congresswoman but without success.
Houston, TX. (D) State. Rep Jolanda Jones of Houston. She & her compatriots are what's wrong w/ Houston & Austin. Her entire staff WALKED OUT because the work environment was so hostile. Good for them. I wish them the best. ❤️🤠 https://t.co/pnZLcoKY0j
— Life, Liberty & Texas FREEDOM FROM TYRANNY 🇺🇸✝️ (@redrivercrafts1) March 31, 2023
The staffers also allege that Jones failed to intervene in an inappropriate relationship between her son, Jiovanni “Jio” Christian Jones, and an intern working in the office. Jio is the General Counsel at Elite Change, Inc., a registered lobbying firm and the financial vehicle of Jolanda’s campaign manager.
In response to the resignations, Jones said in a statement, “Working in the Texas Legislature is a stressful and demanding job, especially when you are in a daily fight to protect your constituents. Some on my staff have decided this job is not for them. I wish them good luck and success in their next endeavors.”
State House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) has indicated that the allegations will be reviewed to determine if any House rules have been broken. Cassi Pollock, a spokesperson for Speaker Phelan, stated that the office takes all allegations seriously and expects the matter to be resolved as soon as possible.
Jones has occasionally struggled with maintaining civil relationships with her colleagues throughout her political career.
In 2011, Houston firefighters accused her of making obscene remarks during a station visit and suggesting they were lazy. Her spokesperson denied the allegations.
In 2018, the Houston Chronicle reported a 30-second shouting match between Jones and a fellow trustee during a Houston Independent School District board member retreat. The newspaper also described her as “vocally hostile” with state education officials and reported her comments calling another trustee a thief and crook with “no moral character.”
Recent events raise questions about the effectiveness of Jones’s leadership and her ability to foster a positive work environment. As a public servant, the congresswoman’s actions and decisions may impact her staff and constituents. The forthcoming review of the allegations against Jones will likely shed more light on the situation and may have significant consequences for her political career.