Robert Francis O'Rourke is being sued for defamation by a major Abbott donor

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

What’s a Texas energy billionaire to do when a Democrat candidate in the gubernatorial race in Texas makes inflammatory remarks against him? In the case of one major donor to the campaign of Governor Greg Abbott, the energy billionaire filed a defamation lawsuit against Robert Francis (Beto) O’Rourke.


As stated in the lawsuit, Kelcy Warren is a lifelong Texan and a self-made businessman. He co-founded Transfer Energy and is the Executive Chairman of the company now. Robert Francis has made the Big Freeze of 2021 a large part of his campaign stump speeches, as it was expected he would do. The freeze was a weather event that none of us who lived through it want to repeat, I can assure you from first-hand experience. The governor is not directly to blame for the collapse of the Texas power grid, which is independent of other power grids, but he’s the man in the governor’s office so the buck ultimately stops with him. Robert Francis should be railing at the state legislature for its failure over the years to take recommendations to winterize the power grid seriously and fund it. O’Rourke knows how it works but he thinks voters are stupid and his talking points make good sound bites for his media cohorts.

O’Rourke is giving a “muh truthiness” kind of response to the allegation of defamation. He’s just telling the truth to voters, you see, and they have a right to know that this wealthy energy guy donated money to Abbott.

“All I have done today, and all I’ve done over the course of the campaign, is to share these facts with the electorate that will decide the outcome of this next election,” O’Rourke said during a news conference in Dallas.

“I want to make sure that there is justice for those who were killed effectively by this governor. I’ll make sure that there’s justice for the ratepayer who is now forced to foot the bill for these illegal windfall profits made by the gas companies and Energy Transfer Partners and others here in the state of Texas.”


Robert Francis says that Warren wants to silence him.

“O’Rourke intentionally, repeatedly, and widely disseminated his deliberate and defamatory falsehoods through publicly released messages on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites and during speaking engagements and interviews,” the lawsuit states. “O’Rourke intended that his malicious and baseless defamatory statements publicly humiliate Warren and discourage others from contributing to Governor Abbott’s campaign.”

The lawsuit says O’Rourke went beyond normal political talking points.

“That Warren has committed felonies in a purported effort to profit off the suffering of his fellow Texans are completely out of bounds for any speech, let alone as talking points for a candidate for the Governor of the State of Texas,” the lawsuit states. “The accusations go well beyond the sorts of vague and generalized accusations of political and corporate corruption that are often thrown around; rather, they focus on a particular person, a particular campaign contribution, at a specific point in time, and a particular purported favor done in exchange for the contribution.”

Warren doesn’t use social media. He doesn’t have social media accounts like Twitter or Facebook. O’Rourke is a prolific user of social media. The lawsuit states that O’Rourke should be “held liable for his lies and forced to pay for the damage he has caused.” Essentially all Robert Francis has done is connect the dots from Warren’s donation(s) to Abbott. He embellishes his talking points by accusing Warren reaping profits at the expense of Texan lives. Warren has contributed to Abbott’s past campaigns, he is not a new name on Abbott’s donor list. During the recent primary race, Warren donated $1M to Abbott to help counter former state Sen. Donald Huffines, also a wealthy man who was capable of self-funding his primary challenge to Abbott. Abbott easily won the primary race, as predicted by everyone.


The lawsuit was filed in San Saba County, where Warren owns property, not in El Paso, where O’Rourke lives with his heiress wife and their three children. O’Rourke said he will use campaign funds to pay for his legal defense. Warren wants Robert Francis to stop making false statements and retract the ones he’s already made.

The lawsuit was filed by Warren personally, not by Energy Transfer. The company issued a statement.

“Beto O’Rourke clearly hasn’t read or doesn’t understand the lawsuit filed personally by Kelcy Warren. Mr. Warren is not interested in barring Mr. O’Rourke from talking about the winter storm. That is the right of every Texan and every American,” the statement from the company said. “What Mr. Warren is interested in stopping are the irresponsible, defamatory and highly offensive statements by Mr. O’Rourke related to his donation to Governor Abbott’s campaign.”

The statement added that it is the right of “every Texan and every American to contribute to the campaigns of candidates they support without being defamed in the process.”

“Mr. O’Rourke’s statements are flat-out false, and they appear to have been made for political gain in a desperate attempt to overcome what appears to be a weakening campaign to unseat Governor Abbott,” according to the statement.

Liberals are enjoying dinging Warren for being a wealthy energy executive. One posted a “57-tweet masterclass on defamation”. The author of a piece in “D Magazine” said he has interviewed Warren in the past and he’s a likeable guy. Nonetheless he cheerfully shared the tweets from a person believed to be a West Texas lawyer. It’s an interesting thread that points to the fact what we all already know – defamation lawsuits are not easy to win. The tweets do claim that while Warren calls himself just a private citizen, he may be considered a limited public figure because of his large donations and his profile as a businessman.


This lawsuit comes at a time that both Abbott and O’Rourke are ramping their campaigns with the help of volunteers. Abbott’s campaign claims to have 100,000 volunteers while O’Rourke relies heavily on out-of-state people. Abbott will win in November and he probably does have a large and enthusiastic volunteer base. A red wave is coming across the country and a wacko progressive like O’Rourke certainly motivates Republicans and Independents to come out and vote. Robert Francis can take his skateboard and figure out what the next office will be that he’ll run a losing campaign for after this one makes him a three time loser.

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