Sen. Lena Taylor is decrying what she called a “political lynching,” insisting she had done nothing that warranted her removal from the Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee.
Flanked by supporters at a Milwaukee news conference yesterday, Taylor defended her actions at a Milwaukee bank last month that resulted in a disorderly conduct citation. She also disputed she bullied staff, which is what Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling cited in replacing Taylor with fellow Milwaukee Dem La Tonya Johnson on JFC.
Shilling announced the move Tuesday after an investigation into a human resources complaint determined the Milwaukee Democrat had violated: the Senate Policy Manual’s anti-bullying provisions; and the anti-retaliation section related to an employee’s Family Medical Leave Act leave.
“I don’t think I did anything that warrants me being taken off of Finance, since in the midst of all that was going on, I don’t think anybody was able to stop me from dealing with 9,000 constituent cases,” Taylor said.
Taylor criticized the process in the HR case and said she disputes the findings.
“That report, I disagree with it,” Taylor said “And those findings are not accurate. And that the process alone, being a kangaroo process, where they failed to follow their own rules, is not even one that I want to give credence to.”
Taylor also took a swipe at Johnson. She said they disagreed on issues such as mandatory minimum sentencing, which Taylor opposes.
“Clarence Thomas is no Thurgood Marshall,” Taylor said. “La Tonya Johnson is no Lena Taylor.”
She later said replacing her with Johnson, the only other African-American woman in the Senate and state Legislature, “doesn’t make it OK.”
“You can’t switch one black girl for another and think it’s the same, number one,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t make it OK, number 2.”
Despite their differences, Taylor said she congratulated Johnson and that she will work with her and help her.
Shilling said in a statement she stands by her decision to put Johnson on the committee.
“As a leader in the Democratic caucus, Sen. Johnson has been a strong advocate for gun safety, women’s health access and child care affordability,” Shilling said. “From investing in strong schools and infrastructure to reforming our juvenile justice system, Sen. Johnson understands the issues important to local families and will work to ensure that Wisconsin’s budget reflects the values that we all share.”
In addressing the bank incident, Taylor said she was only demanding the teller give her the name of his superior and corporate office information.
Taylor said while reports cite her as using the “n-word” toward the teller, she used a different term that she said is not seen as a racial slur when used among African-Americans. She argued that did not constitute disorderly conduct.
“I made a parting shot,” Taylor said. “I think I have the right after standing at the counter for 20 minutes to make a parting shot.”
She said she is sorry if the teller was offended.
“I, too, was offended he would not follow the basic procedure of: ‘Can I know who your superior is?’” Taylor said.