Texas lobbyist cleared in drugging accusation, DPS says accuser was 'deceitful'

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Thursday, May 27, 2021
Lobbyist accused of using date-rape drug on Texas Capitol staffer
The female staffer said she was drugged by the lobbyist during a recent meeting, according to Austin American-Statesman reporter Tony Plohetski.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- A Texas lobbyist accused of drugging two female Capitol staffers has been cleared of allegations, and one of his accusers made up the claim.

The Texas Department of Public Safety released a report that said one of the women "deceived" and manipulated" the other into reporting the claims to authorities, according to a report Wednesday by the Austin American-Statesman.

The video above is from previous reporting when allegations came to light.

RELATED: Lobbyist accused of using date-rape drug on Texas Capitol staffer

The investigation concluded that one of the women made up the story to cover up an infidelity, the Statesman's Tony Plohetski reported.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and Travis County District Attorney's Office said Thursday "that there is not enough evidence to support" an allegation that a lobbyist used a date rape drug on a Capitol staffer and that "no crime occurred in this instance."

The accusations were brought to light in April, which prompted outrage among state lawmakers.

In the early evening of April 1, the two female legislative staffers joined a group of lobbyists for drinks at the Austin Club, a nearby haunt frequented by the Capitol crowd. According to the DPS report, the two women had recently received the coronavirus vaccine.

After a short time there, one of the women began to feel ill and left soon after. Her condition prompted a trip hours later to the emergency room, where the report says she was treated for dehydration, stomach pain and nausea. The second woman, meanwhile, had stayed with the group, and later left with another Capitol staffer she was romantically involved with, the report says.

In text messages later shared with the investigator, the second woman told her boyfriend and her co-worker's mother that she had tested positive for the date rape drug GHB at a medical clinic the next morning.

Her co-worker soon after contacted DPS and raised the possibility that someone had put GHB in their drinks while at the Austin Club. DPS opened an investigation and briefed certain state leaders and lawmakers about the allegation, as first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

Although he was not named publicly, word spread quickly through Capitol circles that the lobbyist, employed by HillCo who had been at the Austin Club gathering, was a target of the investigation.

But the accusation fell apart under investigation. The second woman had not been tested for GHB, the investigator found. According to his report, he found inconsistencies in her story and "observed (her) to be very deceptive" during an interview.

Her story, according to the report, "contradicted most if not all facts" that the investigator had learned.

The allegations, though false, have placed new light on past claims of sexual harassment at the Capitol, according to the Texas Tribune.

Interviews by the Tribune with more than two dozen current and former lawmakers and staffers revealed sexual harassment regularly goes unchecked - and that policies in the Texas House and Senate often relied on people in power with little incentive to enforce them.

Our ABC13 partners at the Texas Tribune have more on the Capitol's culture of sexual harassment here.