Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1994, 10th term.

Born: January 12, 1950, Queens, NY

Home: Houston

Education: Yale U., B.A. 1972, U. of VA, J.D. 1975

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1975–77, 1978–87; Staff cnsl., U.S. House Select Assassinations Cmte., 1977–78; Houston assoc. municipal judge, 1987–90.

Ethnicity: Black/African American

Religion: Seventh Day Adventist

Family: married (Elwyn) , 2 children

Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat first elected in 1994, is known as one of Congress’ most difficult members— she has had more staff turnover than any other lawmaker and regularly tops the “Biggest Show Horse” category in Washingtonian’s annual survey of Hill aides. But she is hugely popular at home, always winning at least 70% of the vote in elections.

A native of Queens, N.Y., Jackson Lee was educated at Yale University and the University of Virginia’s law school. She practiced law in Houston, where she was a local judge and won two terms as an at-large member of the Houston City Council. After a local term-limits law took effect in 1994, she ran for Congress. The incumbent was Democratic Rep.Craig Washington, a talented but iconoclastic legislator who voted against funding for the space station, a source of many local jobs, and against the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, which was a boon to Houston’s port traffic. Jackson Lee supported NAFTA and raised a lot of money from business interests that favored it. She won the primary, 63%-37%, and she prevailed in the general election.

In the House, Jackson Lee has a liberal voting record, although she has leanedtoward the center on economic issues. She is prolific in proposing bills and offering amendments on the floor. Typically, her measures call for studies on one topic or another, add small amounts to spending bills, or are non-controversial, such as one that called on Afghanistan to prohibit the use of children as soldiers. Her more substantive proposals—for example, in favor of NASA funding and abortion rights—usually have been defeated. She also is known for regularly grabbing a prominent aisle seat for presidential State of the Union addresses, ensuring her a moment of national television time with the chief executive as he enters. In Washingtonian’s poll, Jackson Lee has won best “Show Horse” every Congress since 2000 and has routinely taken top honors in the poll’s “Biggest Windbag” and “Meanest” categories.

Jackson Lee also draws negative reviews for her treatment of her staff. She used to have an aide drive her one block to and from her Capitol Hill apartment daily, and she has required aides to drive her to late-night hair styling appointments. A Washington Times analysis found that between 2001 and 2011, her annual staff turnover rate was 54%, 6 percentage points ahead of second-place finisher Betty Sutton of Ohio. She told the Houston Chronicle that while she can ruffle feathers, she is unflagging in her desire to serve constituents. “I just want to be called an Energizer bunny that keeps on working for the people of this great district,” she said.

Jackson Lee came into national prominence as an outspoken defender of Democratic President Bill Clinton during his impeachment in 1998. On the Judiciary Committee, she has faced conflicting desires from Latino constituents, who favor more generous treatment of immigrants, and African-American constituents, who see immigrants as competition for jobs. She frequently takes the pro-immigrant side. She favors an increase in visas and access to permanent resident status. She has vigilantly pursued alleged racial injustices in local courts; she called the Houston-area judicial system “tarnished” in 2008 after a grand jury failed to indict a white man who killed two black men after they robbed his neighbor.

She is the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, an assignment that suits a port city. Jackson Lee got into a furious debate with Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., at the panel’s controversial March 2011 hearing on domestic Muslim extremism, waving a copy of the Constitution and denouncing the effort as “an outrage” to law-abiding Muslims. Meanwhile, King pounded his gavel to try to silence her.

Jackson Lee has been mindful to keep her name recognition in the district high, going so far as to have aides track constituents’ deaths and then calling their grieving families to ask if she can speak at their funerals. Her most famous eulogy came in July 2009, when Jermaine Jackson asked her to speak at his famous brother Michael Jackson’s memorial service in Los Angeles. She delivered a rambling speech to the crowd of 20,000 who gathered for the pop star’s funeral, speaking for more time than many of the stars there who knew Jackson personally.

In 2010, Jackson Lee faced a primary challenge from Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson, who cited her reputation as difficult to work with, and local lawyer Sean Roberts. Neither, however, came remotely close to her in fundraising, and in February, she unveiled her trump card—an endorsement from President Barack Obama calling her “a tireless champion for Houston’s working families.” She drew 67% of the vote to Johnson’s 28% and Roberts’ 5%, a victory that ensured her reelection. Two years later, she had no primary opponents and beat Republican Sean Seibert, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, 75%-23%. She was diagnosed in 2011 with breast cancer but announced three months before the election that she was cancer-free.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3816

(202) 225-3317

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2252
Washington, DC 20515-4318

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3816

(202) 225-3317

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2252
Washington, DC 20515-4318

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 655-0050

(713) 655-1612

Mickey Leland Building Suite 1180
Houston, TX 77002-8098

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 655-0050

(713) 655-1612

Mickey Leland Building Suite 1180
Houston, TX 77002-8098

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 691-4882

(713) 699-8292

6719 West Montgomery Road Suite 204
Houston, TX 77091-3105

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 691-4882

(713) 699-8292

6719 West Montgomery Road Suite 204
Houston, TX 77091-3105

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 861-4070

(713) 861-4323

420 West 19th Street
Houston, TX 77008-3914

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 861-4070

(713) 861-4323

420 West 19th Street
Houston, TX 77008-3914

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 227-7740

(713) 227-7707

4300 Lyons Avenue
Houston, TX 77020

DISTRICT OFFICE

(713) 227-7740

(713) 227-7707

4300 Lyons Avenue
Houston, TX 77020

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

4412 Almeda Road
Houston, TX 77004

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(713) 445-3143

4412 Almeda Road
Houston, TX 77004

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Aerospace

LaDedra Drummond
Scheduler; Legislative Aide

Agriculture

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Animal Rights

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Appropriations

Gregory Berry
Legislative Director; Chief Counsel

Sharef Al Najjar
Operations Manager

Budget

Abiola Afolayan
Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Consumers

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

Crime

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Education

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

Family

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Abiola Afolayan
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Sharef Al Najjar
Operations Manager

Health

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

LaDedra Drummond
Scheduler; Legislative Aide

Human Rights

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Gregory Berry
Legislative Director; Chief Counsel

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Judiciary

Gregory Berry
Legislative Director; Chief Counsel

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Labor

Sharef Al Najjar
Operations Manager

Medicare

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

Public Affairs

Tonya Williams
Community Liaison

Science

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

LaDedra Drummond
Scheduler; Legislative Aide

Small Business

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Sharef Al Najjar
Operations Manager

Social Security

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

Tax

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Technology

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

LaDedra Drummond
Scheduler; Legislative Aide

Telecommunications

Gregory Berry
Legislative Director; Chief Counsel

Trade

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Women

Krystal Williams
Legislative Director

Lillie Coney
Chief Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Sheila Jackson Lee
Votes: 146,223
Percent: 75.01%
Sean Seibert
Votes: 44,015
Percent: 22.58%
2012 PRIMARY
Sheila Jackson Lee
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Sheila Jackson Lee
Votes: 85,108
Percent: 70.0%
John Faulk
Votes: 33,067
Percent: 27.0%
2010 PRIMARY
Sheila Jackson Lee
Votes: 21,570
Percent: 67.0%
Jarvis Johnson
Votes: 9,133
Percent: 28.0%
2008 PRIMARY
Sheila Jackson Lee
Votes: 78,161
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (70%), 2008 (77%), 2006 (77%), 2004 (89%), 2002 (77%), 2000 (76%), 1998 (90%), 1996 (77%), 1994 (73%)

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