AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two Texas State Senators face calls to resign after accusations of sexual assault and harassment in an article published by the Daily Beast. The accusations target two Democrats: Sen. Borris Miles from Houston and Sen. Carlos Uresti from San Antonio.
The article contained detailed descriptions of alleged assaults and harassment by both men. The article did not name the accusers.
“I will not continue to address anonymous accusations that attack my personal and professional character as an effective lawmaker,” Miles said in an e-mailed statement. He blamed the allegations on “powerful enemies” he’s made in his years at the Capitol.
Uresti also said that he’s innocent. “The specific instances described in [the] Daily Beast article are at best unfounded, and in at least one case, completely erroneous,” Uresti said in an e-mailed statement. He sent out a Facebook photo showing him having dinner with his wife at the same time when one of his accusers said Uresti was attending a Capitol party and behaving inappropriately.
The accusations led the influential political group Annie’s List to call for both Miles and Uresti to resign. The group’s executive director, Patsy Woods Martin, spoke Sunday on KXAN’s State of Texas program.
“We know that it’s difficult for women to make these accusations, and at the same time, almost always they’re true and accurate,” Martin explained. “I spend my time around the state recruiting women to run and serve in public office, and what we want for these women is for them to have a safe workplace.”
Annie’s List helps elect progressive women — mainly Democrats — to office in Texas. The group’s decision to call for two Democrats to resign surprised some people who cover the Capitol. “Up until that point, I don’t think a lot of Texas Democrats were talking about the possibility, at least publicly, of these men resigning,” said Patrick Svitek, who reports for the Texas Tribune.
The decision seems to signal a change from politics as usual at the Capitol. “It’s also interesting because those two senators had voted with Annie’s List on quite a number of issues,” noted Mike Ward, the Austin bureau chief for the Houston Chronicle. For example, both Miles and Uresti voted against measures to restrict abortions in Texas.
“This is bigger than politics,” Martin explained. “What we would ask them to do is go beyond voting right and live those values.”
Martin says she believes this issue goes beyond accusations against two men at the Capitol. “This is a moment in time where we might be able to change the culture, and we need to stand up and call for that.”