The Back MicThe Back Mic: Legislators Respond to U.S. Capitol Storming, Lawmaker Chides Attorney General, Texas GOP Fires Officer

This week — here's a look at what's happening in Texas politics, particularly after the anarchic events in Washington D.C. unfolded.
January 8, 2021
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Legislator Responses to U.S. Capitol Storming 

After pro-Trump protestors stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, state-level lawmakers responded with statements condemning the violence.

Presumptive speaker of the Texas House, Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), tweeted, “The actions today at our US Capitol is not the act of patriots. It’s disgraceful. The Bill of Rights guarantees the right to assemble peacefully. It does not condone violence, destruction of property, or trespassing to disrupt proceedings outlined in the Constitution.”

Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) also disapproved of the actions and referenced the riots and protests of last summer following the death of George Floyd. “I’d say it if it were a left-wing protest and I’ll say it now: If they break the law, arrest them.”

Some Democrats turned their attention to the Second Amendment, with Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) tweeting, “This is exactly why allowing firearms into the State Capitol has always been a terrible, pandering idea.”

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The Mexican American Legislative Caucus, with members including Reps. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso), Armando Martinez (D-Weslaco), Armando Walle (D-Houston), and Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), released a statement in response which zeroed in on Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) involvement. “In what was cynical political theater sought to bolster his own political ambitions, Senator Cruz brought shame to Texas and our nation when he chose to repeat the President’s lies and call into question the legitimacy of our election.”

Other notable statements include:

  • “Today is yet another example, that there is a different set of rules and societal privilege that exists for white people. If BLM or Raza Unida would have stormed the United States Capitol the way the MAGA terrorists did, they would be mopping up blood for days.” — Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg)
  • “Today, is a sad and dark day for the USA. My hope is that the protestors will go home in peace and not act out in any further violence – and that our constitutional process be carried out to certify the EC results as intended today. Americans are better than this. Go home.” — Rep. Justin Holland (R-Rockwall)
  • “Today’s armed insurrection is a direct result of Trump’s populism-disguised fascism & also the pandering by Republicans to this extremism. They are complicit. It’s not enough to just denounce violence – we have to call it what it is: domestic terrorism, propagated by the GOP.” — Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin)
  • “I am saddened, disgusted really, with the actions taken by rioters who violently entered our US Capitol today. There is absolutely no place for these actions and I condemn them in their entirety. I supported the President in his re-election, I was disappointed with many of the elections across the country but I accept the results. The way to push for the values we want in government is not through mob rule or fear, it is through dialogue, peaceful protest at times, but most importantly through the rights guaranteed all of us by our Constitution. What happened today is un-American and we can and should be better.” — Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)
Lawmaker Calls for Investigation Into Attorney General

On Thursday, state Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), who serves as chairman of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, called on the legislature to “thoroughly investigate the role Attorney General Ken Paxton played in [the] insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and hold him accountable for it.” 

Other lawmakers joined the call, but the North Texas lawmaker led the way and specifically referenced a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas that challenged the validity of November election results in four states and a social media post made by Paxton alleging those who stormed the Capitol were members of Antifa, not pro-Trump protestors.

“From filing a fraudulent lawsuit that fueled unhinged conspiracy theories about a fair and free election, to egging on the crowd of insurrectionists in Washington DC, Paxton has played a major role in creating the national crisis that culminated with the first breach of the nation’s capital since the War of 1812.”

Turner listed a variety of “tools” at the disposal of the legislature, including, “passing legislation that limits the jurisdiction of the OAG, reducing appropriations to his office, restricting use of funds appropriated, censure and impeachment.”

Texas GOP Removes Party Officer for Statement

The Texas GOP announced the firing of one of its officers after he made controversial statements on social media following Wednesday’s events in Washington D.C. 

“The Republican Party of Texas in no way endorses Walter West’s statement about the lawlessness occurring in the Capitol Building.”

West served as the party’s sergeant-at-arms. Posts from his social media accounts appear to have attributed the destruction at the Capitol to Antifa and supported the actions of those who infiltrated the building.

“Whereas we vigorously support the First Amendment right to freely assemble, we condemn violence and pray for all gathering in our nation’s capital and those at the Capitol Building,” the party’s statement continued. 

“The Texas GOP has always been on the side of law and order and will remain so.”

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McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor serves as Senior Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.