State Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) was removed Tuesday from the State Legislature's powerful Joint Finance Committee after a State Senate investigation determined that she bullied members of her staff and took retaliatory action against a specific employee.
In addition, Taylor faces a municipal citation for disorderly conduct after an altercation at a Wells Fargo Bank branch in Milwaukee during which she called a teller a "house n****r." Taylor refused to comment on News/Talk 1130 WISN's report on the incident for a month and repeatedly denied using the slur before admitting to it during an interview on WNOV-AM Monday morning.
Senator Taylor's removal from the Joint Finance Committee, though, was based on a report from Senate Chief Clerk Jeff Renk and human resources manager Amanda Jorgenson that determined Taylor "engaged in behaviors in violation of the Senate Policy Manual's anti-bullying provisions as it relates to the employee and other staff members."
That employee filed a human resources complaint against Taylor in July, alleging that Taylor bullied her for having a light skin tone and an unspecified disability. The complaint also accused Taylor bullying and demeaning other members of her staff. Senate investigators found that Taylor retaliated against the employee in a dispute over the employee's use of paid sick time.
"After being updated on the conclusion of the Legislative Human Resources Office’s investigation, I made changes to our caucuses’ representation on the important Joint Finance Committee and our leadership team," State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said in a news release. "As with any situation like this, the Senate Chief Clerk and the Human Resources Director are responsible for implementing a corrective action plan directly with the Senate office."
Taylor remained defiant and did not apologize for her actions after being stripped of her power, calling the staffer who lodged the complaint against her a "disgruntled employee" and adding that "it is unfortunate that Milwaukee will lose an experienced, progressive and relentless voice at a time that Milwaukee schools, city and county needs more help from the state’s budget committee.
"Regardless," she continued in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, "I will continue to be a voice for the interests of the constituents I serve."