A local candidate for Congress is denying a rumor he sexually harassed a co-worker while working in the county election office. It is a rumor that, before the denial, had apparently never been made public.

Bill Sargent, a GOP candidate for Texas Congressional District 14, issued a statement Wednesday saying a “rumor has been circulating” about him, which he denied.

“It is unfortunate in this day and age that accusations are taken as truth without being proven,” Sargent said.

The news release did not say what the rumor was.

In a subsequent interview with The Daily News seeking clarification, Sargent said he was trying to cut off a rumor about a sexual harassment complaint lodged against him earlier this year.

“Somebody had lodged a sexual harassment complaint against me,” Sargent said. “I’ve never seen the complaint. I don’t know who made it. I don’t know anything about it, other than the fact it was there. I don’t know the details. I suggest you go look for them.”

Sargent said he was never directly confronted with a sexual harassment complaint while he worked at the county, and only learned of the alleged investigation secondhand. Nevertheless, he said an outside law firm investigated the claim, and found no merit in it.

A county spokesman declined to comment on Sargent’s statements. The Daily News filed a request Wednesday under the state’s public information act for records about any complaints against Sargent, about the law firm and the results of any investigation.

Sargent said his political opponents threatened to disclose the investigation to smear him.

Sargent is running against U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, a Friendswood Republican seeking his third term in Congress. Neither Weber nor his campaign had made any apparent public comments about the accusations. Sargent said word of the threats came during private conversations.

Weber confirmed Wednesday that his campaign had done opposition research on Sargent — including filing an open-records request with the county.

“The records speak for themselves,” Weber said. “If he wants to deny it happened, that’s on him.”

Sargent worked in the county clerk’s election division from January 2011 to February 2017. He said he had planned to retire from that position before the alleged complaint was made against him.

Numerous political leaders have come under fire over sexual harassment complaints in recent months, including Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold.

SHUTDOWN COMING?

Congress has until Friday to pass a spending bill to continue funding the federal government. Things on Wednesday did not appear to be going well.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday morning that a shutdown was possible, and put the blame squarely on Congressional Democrats.

“It could happen,” Trump said. “The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous to our country. They are looking at shutting down.”

While Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress, the Senate requires 60 votes to pass a spending bill, which means at least eight Democrats would have to vote for it.

Democrats are reportedly seeking a compromise on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects some young people who came to the United State illegally from being deported.

Some House Republicans are seeking a temporary measure that would fund the government through Dec. 22, allowing legislators more time to come up with a compromise bill.

It was not immediately clear what services would be affected in a shutdown.

In 2013, the last time Congress failed to pass a spending agreement, about 800,000 federal employees were told to stay home and were not paid for the days they worked. Those included employees at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

According to a memo published Nov. 30 by NASA’s chief financial officer, most of the agency’s employees would be furloughed during a shutdown, except those required to protect life and property, such as mission control employees for the International Space Station.

Of the 3,056 employees at the space center, only 173 would be excepted from a furlough during a shutdown, according to NASA. Another 400 would be considered “on call.”

LYONS, TED CRUZ

Sen. Ted Cruz has initiated an inquiry into the appearance of the Bob Lyons Post Office on Broadway in Galveston, according to a letter obtained by The Daily News.

The post office has been the target of complaints by some island residents about poor lighting and groundskeeping.

It’s not the first time a member of Congress has tried to help with the post office. After a group of island residents sent a petition to the Postmaster General in May complaining about the building, U.S. Randy Weber showed up there with a lawn mower, ready to do the work himself.

When he arrived, he found that the area had already been cleared.

NOTEBOOK

405th District Court Judge Michelle Slaughter on Friday filed with the Republican Party of Texas to run for a spot on The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals during March Republican primaries. ... On Tuesday, Slaughter announced she had received an endorsement from Empower Texans, an influential conservative group. ... A state Senate committee on Tuesday chastised Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush over what it called a lack of transparency in the management of the Alamo.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

(1) comment

Bill Sargent

For those who would like to see the complete statement I sent to the Daily News and making them aware of the issue, feel free to visit http://www.sarges.com/News/Statement_Dec6.html

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