Washington Sen. Patty Murray on Monday called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to fire Candice Jackson, an education official who caused a stir last week when she said that 90% of campus sexual assault accusations "fall into the category of 'we were both drunk.'"
Jackson, acting head of the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights made the comments in an interview with the New York Times ahead of DeVos' meetings with various advocacy groups on the topic of campus sexual assault. Jackson later apologized for the "flippant" comments. "All sexual harassment and sexual assault must be taken seriously—which has always been my position and will always be the position of this Department," Jackson said.
But Murray — a Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee — on Monday called the remarks the "final straw" for Jackson.
"Despite her apology following a public outcry, Ms. Jackson’s callous, insensitive, and egregious comments regarding sexual assault on college campuses crossed a serious line and highlighted her clear biases in this area in a way that, to me and many women and men across the country, should disqualify her from service in the position of top Department of Education protector of students’ right to be safe at school," Murray said in a statement.
DeVos defended Jackson in response on Monday.
"Acting Assistant Secretary Candice Jackson apologized for her recent comments that reflect neither my position nor the position of the Department," she said in a statement. "They also did not reflect Candice’s position and values. Candice is a valuable part of the Administration and an unwavering advocate for the civil rights of all students."
Murray also criticized the department's decision to roll back protections for transgender students that allowed them to access bathrooms that aligned with their gender identity.
"In the three months she has been acting head of the Office for Civil Rights, Candice Jackson's words and actions have made it clear why Secretary DeVos has chosen to shield her from scrutiny by not formally nominating her for the position and therefore not giving people across the country an opportunity hear her views on and plans for this critical office and its mission," Murray said in her statement.