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DeLay’s replacement says staff deleted records

The newest member of Congress, who is temporarily filling former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Texas seat, wants an investigation into the destruction of computer files in her office by staffers she inherited from DeLay.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The newest member of Congress, who is temporarily filling former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Texas seat, wants an investigation into the destruction of computer files in her office by staffers she inherited from DeLay.

Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, R-Texas, said the staffers resigned en masse and walked out Tuesday, a day after she was sworn in to fill DeLay's seat for the next seven weeks. A Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, reported the staffers did not like the way she was treating them.

Sekula-Gibbs said in a statement Thursday that seven employees in her Washington office and the district office in Stafford, Texas, outside Houston, "deleted records and files without my knowledge or permission" on the same day she was sworn in.

Spokeswoman Lisa Dimond told The Associated Press that the congresswoman had not yet gotten a response to her request for an investigation by the House's chief administrative officer.

Sekula-Gibbs said the walkouts were "suspicious" in that the seven took the time to delete files before leaving without notice.

Dimond said other staffers discovered the work-related files were missing when they tried to access them.

‘Disrespect and unprofessionalism’
David James, former deputy chief of staff for DeLay, released a statement Thursday saying that the computers in the office were "scrubbed and reconfigured" according to House rules on transition between members and that work performed for the congresswoman during the brief time he worked there was preserved.

"The staff members have a combined thirty-plus years of experience working on the Hill," James wrote. "Never has any member of Congress treated us with as much disrespect and unprofessionalism as we witnessed during those five days."

Sekula-Gibbs has raised a few eyebrows on Capitol Hill in her first three days in office, largely because of the mass resignation.

She prompted chuckles in The Washington Post and other national publications by telling reporters she planned to resolve such thorny issues as tax cuts, immigration reform and the Iraq war — all in less than three weeks of a lame-duck Congress.

The aides' departure left her with a Washington staff of two former Houston City Council aides, an intern on loan from Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, and one other aide provided from the House's staff.

Sekula-Gibbs is filling DeLay's unexpired term, but only until DeLay's successor, Democrat Nick Lampson, is sworn in come January.