Tlaib Silent As Top Consultant Accused of Sexual Harassment

Dem strategist T.J. Bucholz admitted to sending sexual texts to 22-year-old subordinate

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Getty Images)
March 26, 2021

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), who has railed against "violence and abuse" toward women in politics, is silent as five former employees accuse one of her top consultants of sexual harassment.

Michigan Democratic strategist and Vanguard Public Affairs owner T.J. Bucholz admitted to the misconduct on at least one occasion. According to the Detroit Free Press, Bucholz conceded texting a 22-year-old female staffer in 2016 to say "you're so f—ing hot. Marry me." He texted the same employee to comment on a photo of her a year later, writing "you certainly look … um … healthy." 

Another young female staffer said Bucholz threatened to photoshop an image of her in a "sexually compromised position" if she left the firm. One Democratic activist also accused Bucholz of proposing a sexual threesome in 2010. The consultant was hospitalized for an "apparent suicide attempt" on Thursday, according to the Lansing-based City Pulse. Vanguard Public Affairs did not return a request for comment.

Bucholz's alleged behavior came before he played a key role in Tlaib's 2018 congressional campaign. The Michigan Democrat and member of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D., N.Y.) left-wing "Squad" paid Bucholz's firm more than $21,000 in the 2018 cycle and nearly $5,300 in 2019. After winning her 2018 race, Tlaib tweeted Bucholz to say she "couldn't have done it without" the consultant. Bucholz went on to spearhead a 2019 Tlaib campaign fundraising effort, selling "Impeach the MF" shirts in a reference to Tlaib's rallying cry to oust former president Donald Trump. 

While Tlaib has not addressed the accusations and did not return a request for comment, the Democrat in September introduced a resolution calling on the U.S. government "to adopt policies that promote women’s political participation and help mitigate violence against women in politics."

"We so often hear the future is female—and I introduce this resolution as a means of securing it," Tlaib said in a press release. "Our future is so much brighter if we can build a world in which women and nonbinary individuals are free to fight for their communities and serve in government without fear of violence and abuse."

Bucholz's firm is also tied to Michigan Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer. Former Vanguard vice president Jen Eyer took a leave of absence from the firm to lead communications for Whitmer's 2018 gubernatorial campaign. Bucholz praised the move, calling Eyer "one of the most qualified professionals in Michigan." Eyer resigned from the firm on Wednesday after some of Bucholz's alleged victims accused her of blowing off their accusations. Eyer called the claims "categorically untrue."

Other top Vanguard clients include Michigan Democratic congressman Andy Levin, who in 2018 pledged to "make sure men accused of violating women cannot reach—or remain—in the highest seats of power in the land." Levin has paid Bucholz's firm nearly $50,000 since 2018. The Democrat also did not return a request for comment.

Bucholz on Wednesday apologized to those who were "offended" by his "comments in the past." He told the Free Press that he "will continue to work to make amends" and live "in a more honest and forthright way."