On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez, from California’s 39th district, announced she would not seek the position of Democratic Caucus Chair because of an "unexpected family matter." The announcement is below:
According to Alex Moe of NBC News, Sanchez is eschewing a run for the position because her husband is facing criminal charges.
That position, which is the #4 leadership post for the Democrats in Congress, may be filled by Rep. Hakeem Sekou Jeffries (D-NY), who announced he will seek the post. The post is currently held by Rep. Joe Crowley D-NY), who lost in the Democratic primary to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Sanchez's husband, James Sullivan, is an executive at the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Corporation (CMEEC); he was indicted Thursday. According to federal prosecutors, Sullivan and his co-defendants used a company account as a "secret slush fund." In addition, according to Fox News, they “spent more than $800,000 on ‘lavish trips,’ including to the Kentucky Derby in 2015 and 2016 and a West Virginia golf resort. Sullivan and CMEEC CEO Drew Rankin are specifically accused of conspiring to use company funds to pay for other trips, including a 2014 flight for Sanchez to travel to Key West.”
U.S. Attorney John Durham stated, “CMEEC has received millions of dollars in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy. Instead of protecting these funds and returning excess revenue to member towns and ratepayers, these defendants are alleged to have used the CMEEC Margin Account as a secret slush fund to pay for lavish junkets for themselves and their family and friends, as well as for other inappropriate expenses. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our federal law enforcement partners to safeguard public funds and prosecute those who steal from the public.”
Last March, The Day reported of a settlement paid by Norwich Public Utilities in 2016:
The $35,000 settlement paid by Norwich Public Utilities in 2016 stemmed from a sexual harassment complaint filed by a female NPU employee against then-utilities commission Chairman James Sullivan, in which she alleged he made sexually explicit comments and suggestions and threatened her job. … The CHRO complaint was filed Sept. 16, 2015. Sullivan submitted a letter to Bilda on Oct. 9, 2015, resigning from the Norwich Board of Public Utilities Commissioners/Sewer Authority. With that resignation, he also lost his post as chairman of the board of directors of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative.
In November 2017, USA Today reported that Sanchez has this to say about sexual harassment claims:
In a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill, Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., demonstrated some of the concerns bubbling in Congress about the need to afford members due process before they are presumed guilty. “We are at a turning point in our country’s conscience,” said Sanchez, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus. “The presumption used to be that when complainants came forward with allegations the natural inclination was to disbelieve them,” she said. Now it’s shifted to questioning whether accusations have merit, “and that’s good.”