The Washington Blade is reporting that Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, a staunch LGBT ally, has placed her chief of staff on administrative leave in response to an email he wrote about a gay staff member two years ago.
Murat Gokcigdem was placed on indefinite leave effective Monday, the Blade reports, after the LGBT newspaper obtained a copy of an email Gokcigdem wrote about staff member Christopher Crowe in 2010. Crowe died last year from a staph infection, but at the time he was one of four finalists to become special assistant to the undersecretary of budget and tax in the Treasury Department.
Crowe, who worked in Johnson’s office and headed the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, sought a letter of recommendation from Gokcigdem for the Treasury Department post. In response to Crowe’s request, Gokcigdem drafted an email to Johnson that he mistakenly sent to Crowe, according to the Blade.
Gokcigdem’s email said Crowe was underqualified for the Treasury Department and suggested he was only being considered by the White House post because he was gay.
“It is my personal belief that he has contacts there,” Gokcigdem wrote. “And they, as a group watching and supporting each other if you know what I mean.”
A spokeswoman for Johnson’s office didn’t immediately respond Monday evening to a request for comment from Dallas Voice.
You can read Gokcigdem’s full email about Crowe here.
Our initial reaction to this news is that we suspect there must be more to this story. It’s hard to believe that Rep. Johnson would suspend her chief of staff based on this email alone.
It’s also worth noting that today is the first day of early voting in the primary, and Johnson has two Democratic challengers. So the timing of this email being leaked to the Blade strongly suggests that it’s politically motivated.
Stay tuned to Instant Tea for updates.