Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeAngelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators Elon Musk after Texas Gov. Abbott invokes him: 'I would prefer to stay out of politics' Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime MORE (D-Texas) said she thinks the reaction of a passenger who accused United Airlines of giving away her first-class seat to the Democratic lawmaker was race-related.
Jackson Lee released a statement on Twitter after a woman claimed the airline gave away her seat to the congresswoman on her flight from Houston to Washington.
In the statement, posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Jackson Lee said that while she is "disappointed" to have to respond to the incident, she believes transparency is important.
"Unfortunately, it looks like Grinch is trying to steal the spirit of the holiday," she wrote in the statement.
She said she arrived earlier this month to catch her flight, where she boarded the plane in the normal process and "did nothing wrong."
"I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary. I proceeded to take my seat and work on legislative issues on my way to Washington," she wrote.
"Although I was not involved, I observed a disruption by an individual walking back and forth in the cabin. I could overhear her speaking with a flight attendant (an African American woman)."
Jackson Lee said she later came to understand that the woman had "canceled her own flight," adding she had nothing to do with that.
"I noted that this individual came toward me and took a picture. I heard later that she might have said 'I know who she is,' " she wrote.
"Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice."
She said that "saddens" her.
"Especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people," she said.
"But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry."
The Texas Democrat said she is glad the airline is working to address the passenger's concerns.
"But as an African American, I know there are too many examples like this all over the nation," she wrote.
"I hope one day, we will accept our collective diversity. Happy Holidays," she wrote.
Jean-Marie Simon, the woman accusing Jackson Lee of taking her seat, pushed back on the lawmaker's suggestion that racism played a role in her complaint.
“That could have been Donald Duck in my seat,” Simon told Fox News on Thursday. The outlet noted that Simon identifies as a Democrat.
“I could not see who had boarded the flight. I didn’t even know who she was,” she added.
United issued Simon a $500 voucher after the incident, and she was reassigned to the plane's economy section.
The airline later released a statement saying their investigation that Simon canceled her flight after she was notified of a delay — which Simon denies.
- Updated: Thursday at 3:25 p.m.