HealthcareJudicialLocal NewsTaxes & SpendingDallas County Approves $250,000 in Taxpayer Spending on Jenkins’ Mask Lawsuit Against Abbott

Commissioners asserted that the lawsuit is a matter of public interest and that Jenkins was acting according to his official duties.
April 19, 2022
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The Dallas County Commissioners Court voted on Tuesday to appropriate $250,000 to pay for county Judge Clay Jenkins’ lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott over the executive order banning local mask mandates. Jenkins had originally moved to use donations for COVID-19 relief to pay his legal bills but changed course after the commissioners court tabled the motion.

The county judge sued Abbott after Commissioner J.J. Koch (R-District 2) sued Jenkins for removing him from a commissioners court meeting after Koch declined to wear a face covering. Part of the basis for Koch’s lawsuit was the governor’s executive order against local mask requirements.

Due to their personal involvement in the lawsuit, Koch and Jenkins left the chamber before commissioners took up the item of business at Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioners Theresa Daniel (D-District 1), John Wiley Price (D-District 3), and Elba Garcia (D-District 4) unanimously approved the motion.

Price emphasized the county’s ostensible stake in the lawsuit before voting in favor of the resolution, contending it was “in the best interest of the general public.”

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“This lawsuit was one colleague suing another one over some kind of personal dispute,” Price stated while acting as chair. 

“I may have a difficult feeling about the matter, but I’m going to vote to approve this item because this commissioners court voted to authorize the Dallas County judge to take such actions that are necessary in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Dallas County by the issuance of executive orders that are necessary.”

Garcia echoed Price’s reasoning, arguing that Jenkins was acting according to authority that the state and the county had conferred to him when he went to battle with Abbott to keep the mask mandate in place.

The lawsuit in question is currently pending in the Texas Supreme Court.

A copy of the motion commissioners passed can be found below.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."