DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware lawmaker who came under fire last year for using a racist and sexist slur to refer to sex workers is resigning, House Democratic officials said Friday.
Rep. Gerald Brady’s resignation will be effective Feb. 4, according to a press release from the Delaware House Democratic Caucus.
Brady indicated in the news release that he is not resigning because of the fallout from the racist email, but because of his health.
Brady, who served in the Delaware Army National Guard, said he lost most of his hearing as the result of deployments to the Middle East, and that he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Personal and professional challenges or other traumatic events can exacerbate PTSD,” Brady said in a prepared statement. “Recognizing the severity of this situation, I am taking steps to address these issues directly.”
Brady, who is executive director of the Delaware AFL-CIO, faced calls for his resignation last summer after inadvertently sending an email to an advocate for decriminalizing prostitution. Thinking he was forwarding an email from the advocate to another person from whom he was seeking input, Brady instead mistakenly hit “reply” and sent his comments to the advocate.
The advocate had referred to a Princeton University study indicating that the presence of strip clubs and other adult entertainment establishments in New York City led to a decrease in sex crimes. Researchers suggested that the reduction was mostly driven by potential sex offenders frequenting those establishments rather than committing crimes.
“Is the dude basically saying, if we provide free (oral sex) for Uncle Pervie there will be few rapes and few (a slur for Chinese women) will be shipped in CONEX containers to the Port of Wilmington??” Brady wrote from his official government email address.
Amid public backlash and calls for Brady’s resignation, Democratic House leaders ordered him to complete sensitivity training and to reach out to members of the Asian American community in an effort to regain their trust. A week later, Brady announced that he would not seek reelection after his current term expires.
That was not sufficient for some critics.
Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, a Newark Democrat, filed a complaint against Brady with the House Ethics Committee, alleging that he had engaged in conduct that either brings the House into disrepute or reflects adversely on a member’s fitness to hold office.
Following a closed-door meeting of the Democrat-led committee, Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst announced in September that committee members had unanimously agreed that Brady did not violate legislative rules of conduct and that no further action would be taken. The statement was accompanied by a memorandum in which attorneys for the Democratic and Republican caucuses noted that there was no precedent for disciplining a lawmaker for speech outside of legislative proceedings, and that the prospect of such disciplinary action raised First Amendment concerns.
In November, lawmaker approved a legislative redistricting plan that eliminated the 4th House District in northern Delaware and reconstituted it in southern Delaware. Brady has represented the district since 2006. Residents of the former district were parceled out to neighboring districts in New Castle County. The new 4th District in coastal Sussex County incorporates fast-growing areas bordering Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay.
While all House and Senate seats will be on the ballot in November, Brady’s resignation will result in a special election within the next few weeks to serve the remainder of his term. Under Delaware law, the speaker of the House must issue a writ to the Department of Elections within 10 days of a vacancy occurring. The writ would set the date for the special election, which must be held between 30 and 35 days after the writ is issued.
House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf issued a statement Friday praising Brady as “a kind and empathetic representative who knows the residents of his district,” and an advocate for environmental issues and workers’ rights.