Complaint filed against Del. Representative dismissed
DOVER, Del. – The House Ethics Committee announced on Monday that it has dismissed an ethics complaint filed against Rep. Gerald Brady.
We’re told the complaint was filed last month and called into question an email that Rep. Brady sent using his state email that used racist and sexist terms to discuss human trafficking. The email was publicized and condemned by numerous officials and groups.
Under House Ethics Rules, while all members vote on at the beginning of each General Assembly, complaints, investigations, and the information received by the committee are initially confidential. Once the committee determines that a complaint is in order, an initial review is held to determine whether or not the allegation constitutes a violation of a Rule of Legislate Conduct or if the complaint merits further inquiry.
In its dismissed issued Monday, the Ethics Committee unanimously determined that no laws were violated, and that Rep. Brady’s remarks are protected under the First Amendment. We’re told the report included research for precedent in Delaware, the U.S. House of Representatives and other states. Reprimands and punitive measures taken against elected officials are extremely rare, and have been almost universally for breaking the law, sexual misconduct, or misusing the elected office for personal gain. None of those cases involved an elected official’s speech in private communications.
House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, who chairs the Ethics Committee, said that while Rep. Brady’s comments were reprehensible, case law regarding elected officials’ speech is clear.
“While we condemn Rep. Brady’s remarks, the committee determined that we have no ground to regulate or punish an elected official’s speech. Ultimately, the decision of whether he should continue to serve in the House is the responsibility of the constituents he represents,” said Longhurst.
Rep. Brady released the following statement:
“While the Ethics Committee concluded that this situation didn’t constitute a violation, it does not mean that my words weren’t wrong. Free speech is crucial to democracy, but so is the duty to use it wisely, and to take responsibility when you do not.
“I have spent the past several weeks contacting colleagues, constituents, community members and members of the Asian American community to offer my apologies and to open a dialogue with them. I have participated in a sensitivity training course as prescribed, and I have remained in contact with the instructor to incorporate the lessons I have learned going forward.
“My goal throughout this process has been not to simply call a person once, offer my apologies and move on; it’s to open a dialogue about how to sincerely and constructively address this issue I caused and to turn this horribly negative situation into a learning experience for others and to bring the concerns of the Asian American community forward. Despite the committee’s decision and my plans to not seek re-election, I intend to continue those efforts.
“I also want to address a recent letter that was sent on my behalf. Mr. Neuberger, who sent the letter to a House lawyer last week, no longer represents me. After reading the letter, I was sickened by the attempt to deflect or paint me as the victim of some sort coordinated effort. It demeans people who very rightly were hurt by the racist and sexist slurs I used, and it diminishes the seriousness of the situation. I am deeply sorry for this letter and the accusations it made.”