Not The Onion: Runaway Texas lawmakers file frivolous lawsuit against Abbott, 2 other GOP leaders

Not The Onion: Runaway Texas lawmakers file frivolous lawsuit against Abbott, 2 other GOP leaders
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Sometimes all a person can do is to point and laugh at the ridiculous behavior of grown adults. Some of the Texas runaway Democrats filed a lawsuit against Governor Abbott, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, and State Rep. James White. The lawsuit is frivolous, to put it kindly, and is a last-ditch attempt to garner support from Texans. The details so far read like a story from The Onion.

Only 22 of the more than 50 Texas Democrat state lawmakers are participating in the lawsuit, which should tell us that the group is fractured, as was already beginning to be reported as their vacation time in D.C. drags out. They filed the lawsuit in federal court in Austin on Friday, the eve of the second special session. The new session begins today at noon. The question is whether or not they are brave enough to return to their jobs as state legislators and remain long enough to vote on the agenda. Democrats have described the runaways in talking points as courageous heroes yet most Texans don’t think that heroes run, they remain in the fight. Running from legislation that will inevitably pass is an act of cowardice.

The lawsuit states that the efforts by Republicans to bring them home to complete the special session “infringed on their constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The truth is that no one stopped them from hopping on their private planes and flying out of the state. No one has stopped them from exercising their right to free speech, whether during press conferences or posting on social media. Governor Abbott called for the arrest of the Democrats when they come back into Texas and Speaker Phelan put the chamber under a call. This was within their abilities to do in order to try to regain quorum in the House. Phelan signed a civil warrant for Rep. Cortez after he returned to Texas but then turned around and went back to D.C. a few days later. He hasn’t been arrested. None of the Democrats have been arrested. There is no indication that they will be arrested when they do return to Texas – Republican leaders just want to get back to work and have Democrats participate.

One big question is why was Rep. White included in the lawsuit? Is it because he is the only black Republican in the House? He isn’t running for re-election, he is challenging the current Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller, for that job.

The plaintiffs claim they have been “deprived of liberty for substantial periods of time, suffered much anxiety and distress over separation from their families, and much discomfort and embarrassment,” I can’t even type that without chuckling. What a bone-headed claim to make. The Democrats brought any embarrassment and discomfort they’ve experienced on themselves. I don’t think they are capable of feeling embarrassed, though. Their social media posts included photos of underwear drying in a hotel bathroom, and describing themselves as brave and heroic. If you have to tell people you are brave and heroic, are you? One guy posted a photo of his lunch salad and Diet Coke and referred to it as his first meal as a fugitive. It was surreal.

The lawsuit alleges that the three Republicans have “by public statements and otherwise, to attempt to deny, coerce, threaten, intimidate, and prevent” the Democrats and constituents from voting in elections, speaking publicly about their constitutional rights, and their right to not being arrested without probable cause.

They truly are the gang who can’t shoot straight. Two of the Democrats flew from D.C. to Portugal for summer vacations last week. The lawyer for the Democrats, Craig Anthony Washington, is also reportedly practicing law under a probationally suspended license. So, there’s that. They provide no evidence for any of their alleged grievances.

The lawsuit alleges that some Democrats are being targeted because of their race and skin color, but then provides no evidence.

It also claims the three Republican lawmakers acted together under the “color of law” to cause the harm alleged in the suit, but then points no specific harmful actions other than “public statements.” The lawsuit also says some individual plaintiffs experienced “retaliatory attacks, threats and attempts at coercion relating to the exercise of their First Amendment rights” but again does not provide specifics.

The plaintiffs are state Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Trey Martinez Fischer, Gene Wu, Vikki Goodwin, Ron Reynolds, Eddie Rodriguez, Jon Rosenthal, Jasmine Crockett, Mary Ann Perez, Alma Allen, Christina Morales, Nicole Collier, Celia Israel, Ana-Maria Ramos, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, Terry Meza, Donna Howard, Jarvis Johnson, Ray Lopez, Shawn Thierry, Elizabeth Campos, and Gina Hinojosa. You may remember Wu for the lunch photo and his abusive tweets against a Republican lawmaker who lives with Asperger’s syndrome. Wu is married to a local Houston ABC affiliate television reporter. And Rep. Thompson is the longtime legislator who had her butt handed to her by Rep. Mace during a congressional hearing on voting rights.

My favorite of the claims is that the Democrats say they have been “deprived of liberty for substantial periods of time.” Again, they left Austin on private planes, stay in nice hotels paid for by other people, their meals are paid for and care packages have been shipped up to them from Dallas Democrats. They haven’t even given up the per diems they receive during the general session and special sessions. C’mon, man. Their liberty is intact. Complaining now that their reputations have been damaged is laughable. They chose to do all of this.

Best of all, the Democrats know this is a frivolous action and not worth the paper it’s written on – they are claiming $5 in actual damages and $10 in punitive damages. Sure sounds like something The Onion would publish, right? We’ll see if they show up in Austin today for the start of the special session. The only thing they accomplished in D.C. was a meeting with Kamala, but not Joe Biden, and they postponed the inevitable passage of election integrity reform legislation. Good work, Democrats.

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