Criminal Charges Await Fugitive Texas Democrats

America First governor of Texas Greg Abbott is keeping his word.

He vowed to seek criminal charges against the Democrats who fled the state in protest over the newly-passed election security bill.

The Texas Speaker of the House of Representatives issued a warrant for the arrest of a Democrat member who fled to Washington, D.C. to avoid a special session. The San Antonio-area Democrat traveled to the nation’s capital with fellow legislators to break quorum and prevent the House from voting on legislation involving election reforms.

Speaker of the House Dade Phelan signed a civil arrest warrant for State Representative Philip Cortez for his failure to return to the House of Representatives. Cortez abandoned his fellow Democrats late last week when he unexpectedly returned to Texas. Cortez claimed he returned to Austin to attempt to engage in a “good faith dialogue” on the matter of House Bill 3, the election law reform bill.

After receiving harsh criticism from fellow Democrats for returning to Austin without consulting them, Cortez returned to Washington, D.C. The San Antonio Democrat currently serves as chairman of the House Urban Affairs Committee.

Speaker Phelan issued a statement saying, in part, that Cortez had broken the trust of the residents in Texas by absconding his duties to vote on legislation that represents the views of the constituents who elected him.

“As a condition of being granted permission to temporarily leave the House floor, Rep. Cortez promised his House colleagues that he would return. Instead, he fled the state,” Phelan said.

Cortez sidestepped the speaker’s comments and the issue of the arrest warrant in his own statement on Monday. He said he owes “a duty to my constituents to do everything I can to stop this harmful legislation.” He did not say what is harmful in the legislation.

However, whether or not the warrant results in an arrest depends entirely on Cortez. As long as the Democrat representative remains outside the state, the warrant has no means of being executed.

Author: Elizabeth Tierney