Hamilton County Texas Democrats


Texas Supreme Court justice implies Democrats will cheat in 2024 election

Texas Supreme Court justice implies Democrats will cheat in 2024 election” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Texas Supreme Court Justice John Devine is facing new questions about his impartiality after a clip went viral this week in which he implied that Democrats plan to cheat against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

“Do you really think the Democrats are going to roll over and let Trump be president again?” Devine asked in a keynote speech at the Texas Tea Party Republican Women’s 2023 Christmas event. “You think they’re just going to go away, all of a sudden find Jesus and [there will] be an honest election? I don’t think so.”

Devine is a former anti-abortion activist who claims that church-state separation is a myth and, as a state district judge in Harris County in the 1990s, fought to have a copy of the Ten Commandments posted in his courtroom. In his successful 2012 campaign for the Texas Supreme Court, he claimed to have been arrested 37 times at anti-abortion protests in the 1980s, and has since been a reliable ally of conservative, Christian voters in the state. Devine narrowly survived a GOP primary challenge last month that centered around his ethics, and now faces state district court Judge Christine Vinh Weems, a Democrat, in the November general election.

Devine acknowledged in his speech that the court could hear more election cases — including those involving Harris County, which Devine accused of trying to “bastardize” election laws when it expanded voting access during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the county’s protocols were later shot down by the Texas Supreme Court.

“I think those kinds of cases are going to be back to us in this cycle,” he said.

Devine then praised Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, who championed numerous laws that were aimed at Harris County in the wake of the 2020 elections. Last year, the Texas Supreme Court declined to block a law, authored by Bettencourt, that removed Harris County’s elections administrator position.

Bettencourt, who attended Devine’s speech, returned the praise: “You’re one of the reasons why we do win fights at the Supreme Court,” he told Devine.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee blasted Devine’s comments in a Saturday statement, calling them “shockingly inappropriate” and tying them to broader distrust in the judiciary.

“Judges should be honestly evaluating and applying our state’s laws, not giving partisan speeches baselessly accusing members of a different political party of ‘cheating’ in elections,” Menefee said. “It’s shockingly inappropriate for a sitting justice to make disparaging comments about a party that has been and will continue to be before his court. I hope Justice Devine acts with integrity and recuses himself from Harris County cases moving forward, but given his concession that he views himself as aiding Republicans in a ‘fight’ against Democrats, I won’t hold my breath.”

Election disputes weren’t the only hot-button issues on which Devine opined that night. Throughout his 40-minute speech, he blasted legal challenges to Texas’ abortion laws as a “mockery of God,” and invoked apocalyptic language when discussing Democrats — saying his judgeship gave him a “front-row seat to the end of the world.”

“Our culture is dying before our very eyes,” he said. “The church seems to be weakened and not know what to do. We have a corrupted government. On a federal level, we’re run by a criminal enterprise. … None of you are going to escape this. And so I would implore you to get closer to the Lord. I would implore you to prepare. I would implore you to bring other people on board.”

Devine did not respond to a request for comment Friday about the comments or the online criticism of them. The backlash comes barely a month after the Tribune reported on another speech he gave last year, in which he again claimed that Democrats had tried to steal elections. In that speech, Devine also blasted his colleagues on the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court as “brainwashed” by “Big Law.”

“At times I feel like they would sacrifice the Republic for the sake of the process,” Devine said in that speech. “My concern is that they all bow down to the altar of process rather than to fidelity to the Constitution. And when I say that, it’s not meant to be malice towards my colleagues. I think it’s how they were trained — how they were brainwashed.”

Devine has recently faced other questions about his ethics. Earlier this year, Bloomberg News reported that he had missed more than half of oral arguments before the court this term as he campaigned for reelection.

And in February, the Tribune reported that Devine did not recuse himself in 2022, when the court considered a high-profile sex abuse lawsuit against Southern Baptist leader Paul Pressler and his longtime law partner, Jared Woodfill. Devine, the Tribune found, had worked for Pressler and Woodfill’s law firm for years — and at the same time that the plaintiff in the lawsuit alleged he was molested by Pressler while also working at the firm.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/04/05/texas-supreme-court-justice-john-devine-2024-election/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Gov. Greg Abbott attends a community gathering in support of Israel at the Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin on Oct. 9, 2023. Credit: Evan L’Roy for The Texas Tribune

As Texas students clash over Israel-Hamas war, Gov. Greg Abbott orders colleges to revise free speech policies

As the Israel-Hamas war continues to ignite tensions among Texas college students, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring schools to discipline what he described as “the sharp rise in antisemitic speech and acts on university campuses.”

Higher education institutions are expected to update their free speech policies to include the definition of antisemitism, as well as establish and enforce punishments for violating those policies. Expulsion from the college could be considered an appropriate punishment, Abbott said.

“Texas supports free speech, especially on university campuses, but that freedom comes with responsibilities for both students and the institutions themselves,” Abbott wrote in the Wednesday executive order.

The Israel-Hamas war has tested free speech policies at universities in Texas and across the country. As pro-Palestine and pro-Israel students engage in protests and heated discussions, school leaders have struggled to strike a balance between their roles as moderators and facilitators of intellectual debate on campus.

In the Wednesday executive order, the governor singled out Palestinian student groups on campuses — including the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine — who he says have violated free speech policies and should be subject to discipline.

Texas students with the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine will not stop their political organizing, they said in a joint statement about the executive order. They said Abbott was “resorting to racist misrepresentations to justify the blatantly discriminatory violation of our First Amendment” and using “arbitrary censorship” to slow the student movement. The students called on their university leaders to protect them and their free speech rights.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, an advocacy group for free speech on college campuses, criticized Abbott’s executive order, saying it leans on a definition of antisemitism that would involve punishing students for “core political speech,” including any criticism of Israel. And while the free speech group said Texas colleges can and should go after antisemitic harassment, threats and violence, it believed the executive order goes too far.

“State-mandated campus censorship violates the First Amendment and will not effectively answer anti-Semitism,” FIRE said in a statement. “By chilling campus speech, the executive order threatens to sabotage the transformative power of debate and discussion.”

Abbott has been unequivocal in his support of Israel, even traveling to Jerusalem in November to offer the state’s help. And in December, he told Texas colleges they had a “responsibility” to protect Jewish students.

Abbott has not commented on if and how universities should protect pro-Palestine students, who have also faced threats and harassment since the start of the war.

The governor said in a statement Wednesday that the executive order will mean campuses “are safe spaces for the Jewish community.” It comes months after the state dismantled diversity, equity and inclusion offices, whose responsibilities included making college more inclusive to students of all cultures and backgrounds.

Per Abbott’s order, the chair of the board of regents at each college has 90 days to share documentation verifying revisions were made to free speech policies and evidence that those policies have been enforced.

The Texas Tribune partners with Open Campus on higher education coverage.

Disclosure: University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

We can’t wait to welcome you to downtown Austin Sept. 5-7 for the 2024 Texas Tribune Festival! Join us at Texas’ breakout politics and policy event as we dig into the 2024 elections, state and national politics, the state of democracy, and so much more. When tickets go on sale this spring, Tribune members will save big. Donate to join or renew today.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/27/israel-hamas-war-texas-universities/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Paxton Charges Could be Dropped

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud charges could be dropped under deal, according to report

The New “Over the Top” Secret Plan on How Fascists Could Win in 2024

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Republicans are planning in the event Joe Biden wins re-election & Democrats hold the Senate and take the House this November…

How Trump Ends Social Security

The GOP have been trying to gut or privatize Social Security ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt put it into place in 1935.

Political News Update

Greg Abbott, Tim Dunn spend millions in Texas GOP primary fights over vouchers, impeachment

Greg Abbott, Tim Dunn spend millions in Texas GOP primary fights over vouchers, impeachment” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Texas Republican leaders, megadonors and political groups are spending massively ahead of the March 5 primary, pouring millions of dollars into campaigns that have become a litmus test for the Texas GOP’s future amid deepened fissures over school vouchers and Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment.

New campaign finance reports show just how expensive the Texas GOP’s ongoing civil war has gotten, with political interest groups such as Texans For Lawsuit Reform doling out more than $6 million in the last month to a mix of incumbents and PACs; and a small group of voucher supporters, state leaders and far-right megadonors separately injecting at least another $8 million into the primaries.

From Jan. 26 to Feb 24, the most recent campaign finance reporting period, Gov. Greg Abbott spent $6.1 million as part of his ongoing quest to stack the Texas House with members who will pass school voucher legislation. Last year, about two dozen Republicans joined with Democrats to block Abbott’s yearlong crusade to pass a law allowing state dollars to subsidize private school funding. Pro-voucher groups have aided Abbott’s efforts, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into challengers’ accounts in cash and ads.

Over the same period, far-right billionaires such as Tim Dunn have ramped up their giving. In the last reporting period, Dunn’s new group, Texans United For A Conservative Majority, spent more than $2.5 million as part of their campaign to oust incumbent Texas House members who voted last summer to impeach Paxton, a key ally of the state’s right wing. Paxton was acquitted by the Senate.

Paxton, who has endorsed the roughly one-third of House Republicans who resisted his impeachment on corruption accusations, didn’t spend any money on those races. Most of his cash is going to legal fees, according to campaign finance reports.

Voucher fight goes to the districts

Abbott’s spending spree in the most recent fundraising period was largely aimed at 10 GOP primary challengers to anti-voucher Republicans in the Texas House. Abbott spent about $4.4 million on mostly ads, polling and canvassing for those challengers. For those 10 challengers, Abbott’s spending made up almost all of their campaign funding for the period.

Abbott spent another $1.5 million in open-seat races and defending House Republican incumbents — like Rep. Ellen Troxclair of Austin — who supported vouchers, but are facing heated primary contests because of their votes to impeach Paxton.

Abbott’s voucher effort has been bolstered by a record-setting $6 million contribution from pro-voucher activist Jeff Yass in December.

The top beneficiary of the governor’s funding from Jan. 26 through Feb. 24 was Marc LaHood, who received $672,410 in ad spending and other services from Abbott, representing some 81% of his fundraising for that period. LaHood is trying to unseat three-term state Rep. Steve Allison in his San Antonio district.

Close behind him was Janis Holt, who received $671,300 in ad spending from Abbott in her primary against state Rep. Ernest Bailes. That ad spend made up 92% of her total haul for the most recent fundraising period. Bailes, a Shepherd Republican and voucher opponent, lashed out at Abbott last week for his efforts to unseat otherwise loyal Republicans.

“My unwillingness to be a puppet, is why I am challenged so aggressively and by so much money this election,” Bailes said on Facebook.

Bailes and other anti-voucher Republicans were boosted by the Charles E. Butt Public Education PAC, which poured $1.3 million into 11 GOP incumbents’ campaigns.

Half of that was spent defending Allison and Bailes. Allison barely outraised his challenger with $889,000 in contributions — about $60,000 more than LaHood — while Bailes raised about $50,000 less than Holt in the most recent reporting period.

Abbott’s pro-voucher quest was aided by other PACs.

The AFC Victory Fund super PAC, formed expressly to support private school vouchers, spent some $784,000 in Texas last month and collected $2.5 million in donations from less than a dozen donors.

The PAC spent almost $450,000 on direct mail against those anti-voucher incumbents, with some of the heaviest financial firepower reserved for state Rep. Glenn Rogers, R-Graford, who is battling for his third term west of Fort Worth against Paxton and Abbott favorite Mike Olcott.

Olcott also received a $50,000 donation this month from Dunn, whose groups have for years sought to unseat Rogers, a longtime foe and vocal critic of the billionaire’s political network.

“I can’t be controlled by radical billionaire special interests. I represent YOU, the people of my district,” Rogers wrote on X this week.

The pro-voucher Family Empowerment Coalition PAC spent nearly $600,000 last month, mainly on House races. It raised nearly half a million from donors in January including $100,000 from Dallas billionaires Darwin and Douglas Deason, and a quarter-million from Andrew Price, an Austin-area billionaire investor.

Holt took in $50,000 from the Family Empowerment Coalition PAC. She got another $5,000 from Texans United for a Conservative Majority, as well as a “campaign endorsement text message” from Texans for [Lt. Gov.] Dan Patrick valued at $3,318. The rest of her $2,400 in contribution came from 11 individual donors, several outside the district.

Dunn reemerges

Dunn meanwhile gave $1.75 million in February to Texans United for A Conservative Majority, which was created late last year after another Dunn-funded group, Defend Texas Liberty, was embroiled in controversy over its ties to Nick Fuentes and other white supremacists. The PAC also received $1.3 million last month from Farris Wilks, another West Texas oil tycoon who funded Defend Texas Liberty.

After laying low in the last quarter of 2023, Dunn’s new group poured roughly $3.4 million into campaigns and ad buys amid an ongoing war with the Texas GOP’s more moderate, but still deeply conservative, wing. In February alone, Texans United for a Conservative Majority spent roughly $2.5 million.

Instead of vouchers, the group has focused more on ousting incumbents who backed Paxton’s impeachment, or supporting candidates who share their hardline views on the border or LGBTQ+ issues.

Since Jan. 26, Texans United for a Conservative Majority has given $194,000 in support to David Covey’s challenge to House Speaker Dade Phelan, who has been targeted by Dunn’s groups for his role in the Paxton impeachment, his appointment of Democrats to minor House committee chairs and his sharp criticism of Defend Texas Liberty in the wake of the Fuentes scandal.

The PAC also gave $180,000 in support to Andy Hooper, who is challenging Rep. Lynn Stucky of Denton; $180,000 to Brent Money ahead of a rematch of a January run-off in which he narrowly lost to Jill Dutton in North Texas; and $103,000 to Mitch Little, a former member of Paxton’s impeachment defense team who is challenging Rep. Kronda Thimesch, R-Lewisville .

The PAC is also backing some of its former candidates, including Shelley Luther, who ran for the Texas House in 2022 after being jailed for refusing to close her salon during Abbott’s pandemic-era shutdown; and Biedermann, whose previous tenure in the Texas House was bankrolled by groups connected to Dunn.

Since Jan. 26, Texans United has given $133,000 in contributions or ad buys for Luther’s campaign. It also gave $83,000 to Biedermann days before he was roundly criticized for defending Bryan Slaton, a former state representative who was bankrolled by Dunn’s groups until he was expelled last year for having sex with a drunk, 19-year-old aide.

Big TLR money

Meanwhile, the Texas GOP’s business wing has continued to spend big in support of incumbents in the Texas House and Court of Criminal Appeals, both of which have drawn the ire of Paxton and his allies.

Leading the way has been Texans For Lawsuit Reform, a powerful pro-tort reform PAC, associated with backing the Republican establishment, that entered the year with more than $35 million in its coffers. Since Jan. 1, TLR has spent more than $8.2 million — including more than $6.5 million in the last month.

Among the PAC’s biggest beneficiaries: Troxclair, who since Jan. 26 has received $583,000 amid a challenge from Biedermann. and Joanne Shofner, whose campaign against incumbent Rep. Travis Clardy received $408,000 from TLR. Clardy was an outlier in the House for voting against vouchers but also vocally opposing Paxton’s impeachment.

Shofner and Troxclair have also been backed by Abbott, who since Jan. 26 has given them $368,000 and $237,000 in support, respectively.

In February, TLR also matched a $477,000 contribution from Phelan’s campaign to the Secure Our Border Now PAC, which supports the speaker’s House allies. TLR also gave $250,000 to the Judicial Fairness PAC, which is supporting three incumbent judges on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals who have been targeted by Paxton for ruling that his office can’t unilaterally prosecute local voting crimes.

Phelan, protecting his own supporters in the House, spent some $1.3 million of his considerable war chest just since late January on incumbents battling well-funded opponents. Receiving the most were Reps. Lacey Hull of Houston with $125,000, Matt Shaheen with $130,000 and Lynn Stucky with $95,000.

Phelan raised $3.8 million in the past month as he defends his own Beaumont district against an onslaught from Abbott, Patrick, Paxton and hard-right grassroots who accuse of him of party disloyalty.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/27/greg-abbott-tim-dunn-paxton-vouchers-republican-primary-texas/.

Women’s Lives Are on the Ballot This November

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Fifty-one years ago on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, which recognized a woman’s right to privacy when it comes to their reproductive health. My predecessor in Congress, Eddie Bernice Johnson, had just been sworn into the Texas House with her freshman colleague, Sarah Weddington, a lead attorney for unnamed plaintiff Jane Roe, when the call was made to the Texas House Floor that Texas women had won us the right to abortion. 

But now, I’m watching Texas women suffer because of Republican anti-freedom authoritarianism. Today, I possess fewer rights than my mother possessed during her reproductive years. Why and how did we get here? The answer is quite simple: former President Donald Trump. His right-wing Supreme Court majority overturned Roe just as he intended.

As Trump continues to boast about dismantling women’s reproductive rights, MAGA Republicans have followed his lead and passed similar draconian abortion bans and in twenty one states so far, including Texas’ S.B. 8, which banned bans abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. And we know they want to take things even further by passing a national abortion ban.

Thanks to Republicans, one in three women of reproductive age now live under an abortion ban. Here in Texas, pregnant women are filled with the fear that if they suffer a pregnancy complication, they’ll be unable to access necessary healthcare treatment.

One such harrowing example of how these abortion bans are hurting women is the case of Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two from my hometown of Dallas who found herself in the heartbreaking position of needing an abortion to treat a non-viable pregnancy. When Kate received the devastating news about the pregnancy she desperately wanted, she had two options: risk losing her life and her future fertility by continuing to carry a nonviable fetus to term or flee her state and risk prosecution. 

Some would argue that Kate had no good options; I’d agree. Kate deserved better from her state and her country. Kate should have been able to follow the advice of her doctors, but instead had to seek relief from the court system. Despite the glimmer of hope after lower courts granted her relief, multi-indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton decided to threaten her doctors with incarceration. Eventually, the Texas Supreme Court delivered the final blow and ruled she could not access the healthcare she needed.  

While Kate was able to flee Texas to receive the life-saving care she desperately needed, the same can’t be said for all women in her position—especially for low-income women. 

What’s terrifying is that things could get worse for women if Republicans win in 2024. This isn’t about whether you agree with abortion; it’s about whether you agree with the idea behind democracy and hold the principle that power belongs to the people—and that policies should reflect the people’s will and their constitutional protections.

Let me make it crystal clear: President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Democrats up and down the ballot are the only candidates running to protect women’s freedoms, our democracy, and our future. 

The stakes are particularly high for Texas women this year. This election is about the choice between more freedoms or fewer. President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Democrats will stand together to safeguard the freedoms of Texas women, but it will take all of us engaging in this fight to win.

You hold the key to a better future. Only you can unlock your freedoms at the ballot box. Our rights are on the ballot, and we have the chance to protect them by voting for President Biden and Democrats up and down the ballot this November. Our lives depend on it. 

This article was originally published by the Texas Observer, a nonprofit investigative news outlet. Sign up for their weekly newsletter, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.” Link the original story here.

Appeals court rules lawsuit seeking Jan. 6 emails from Texas governor, attorney general can move forward

Appeals court rules lawsuit seeking Jan. 6 emails from Texas governor, attorney general can move forward” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

A lawsuit to force two Texas leaders to release years of their emails, including about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, can move forward thanks to a Wednesday appeals court decision.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that Attorney General Ken Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott did not make the case for the lawsuit against them to be thrown out.

The decision was a major win for American Oversight, the Washington-DC based nonprofit that sued for access to the records after being rebuffed by the state. The group’s executive director called the decision “a tremendous victory for transparency.”

“American Oversight is seeking records related to matters of significant public interest and the appeals court was correct to reject this effort to evade accountability. We hope that Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton will stop their delay and finally release these records to the public,” Heather Sawyer said in a statement.

Abbott and Paxton can appeal the decision. Neither responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

American Oversight filed the lawsuit in June 2022 after unsuccessfully requesting communications from the two Texas leaders. The group wanted access to years of Abbott and Paxton’s communications, including both men’s emails with NRA officials and Paxton’s emails in the days around Jan. 6, 2021.

Paxton attended and spoke at the pro-Donald Trump rally before the attack on the U.S. Capitol that year. The attorney general has declined to say who paid for his trip to DC, and has refused to release his communications from before, during and after the event.

Abbott and Paxton said their offices did not have any communications with NRA officials. They refused to release the other records, citing rules protecting confidential communications with attorneys and discussions about pending lawsuits.

In their response to the lawsuit, they argued that only the Texas Supreme Court could compel the attorney general to act in this instance. They also said no court could force the governor’s hand in this case.

A lower court said these arguments did not hold water.

On Wednesday, the appeals court justices agreed, and also rejected Abbott and Paxton’s arguments that the lawsuit should be tossed because they released some very limited records in response to American Oversight’s requests.

The justices who wrote the opinion are Darlene Byrne, Chari L. Kelly and Rosa Lopez Theofanis. All three are Democrats.

This article was originally published by the Texas Observer, a nonprofit investigative news outlet. Sign up for their weekly newsletter, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.”

Hamilton County Texas Democrats understand the daily concerns of family and friends in Hamilton County and strive to give a voice to all.  We believe government exists to achieve together what we cannot achieve as individuals; and government must serve all people. A representative democracy is only truly representative if every single citizen is guaranteed the inalienable right to vote in fair and open elections.