By RANDALL CHASE
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Democratic House leaders in Delaware have indicated that they have no plans to initiate an ethics investigation that could lead to the ouster of a fellow Democrat who used a racist and sexist slur to refer to sex workers.
Amid public backlash and calls for his resignation, Rep. Gerald Brady of Wilmington said in a July 26 statement that he would not seek reelection after his current term expires.
“I cannot in good conscience ask the voters to put their faith in me again after I betrayed theirs,” said Brady, who is executive director of the Delaware AFL-CIO and was elected to the House in 2006.
Brady made the racist comments in a June 27 email he inadvertently sent to an advocate for decriminalizing prostitution. Thinking he was forwarding an email from an advocate to another person from whom he was seeking input, Brady instead mistakenly hit “reply” and sent his comments to the advocate.
“Is the dude basically saying, if we provide free (sex acts) for Uncle Pervie there will be few rapes and few (a slur for Chinese women) will be shipped in CONEX containers to the Port of Wilmington??” Brady wrote from his official government email address.
Democrat House leaders directed Brady to complete sensitivity training and reach out to members of the Asian American community in an effort to regain their trust. But they indicated in their own statement that they are not interested in initiating disciplinary proceedings that could lead to Brady’s suspension or expulsion from the House.
“We want to be clear about something we have heard from residents: As a duly elected official, only Rep. Brady can make a decision about his political future. House leadership cannot unilaterally take action,” House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Majority Whip Larry Mitchell said in a joint statement.
That’s not true, however.
Schwartzkopf, Longhurst and Mitchell are members of the House Ethics Committee, which is chaired by Longhurst and includes Republican Minority Leader Danny Short and minority whip Tim Dukes. House rules authorize the committee to investigate complaints that a lawmaker has violated the rules of legislative conduct.
Among the rules of legislative conduct: “A member shall not engage in conduct which the House determines (i) brings the House into disrepute or (ii) reflects adversely on the member’s fitness to hold legislative office.”
Ethics Committee rules state that any House member, including any member of the committee, can file a complaint. If a majority of the committee decides that the complaint has been proven, the committee can then, again by majority vote, recommend that the House take “appropriate action,” up to and including expulsion of the offending lawmaker.
Despite describing Brady’s remarks as “reprehensible, racist, sexist and indefensible,” Democratic leaders indicated that, instead of an Ethics Committee investigation, they would make sensitivity training available to all members of the House.
“While we do not believe our colleagues harbor such views, it would be beneficial for them to learn of any microaggressions or other attitudes or actions that negatively impact the Asian American community, and how we all can take steps to improve our relationships with the community,” they said.