One of Abbott’s billionaire patrons just sued Beto

OMG, this is amazing.

The former CEO of one of the nation’s biggest pipeline companies and a major donor to Gov. Greg Abbott is suing Democrat Beto O’Rourke for defamation, slander, and libel for talking about his company’s role in the 2021 Texas winter storm and referring to the executive’s subsequent donations to Abbott’s re-election as “pretty close to a bribe.”

Kelcy Warren, who was a top executive at the gas pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, filed suit against O’Rourke in San Saba County, seeking more than $1 million in damages from O’Rourke, claiming he is trying to “publicly humiliate Warren and discourage others from contributing to Gov. Abbott’s campaign.”

O’Rourke on Monday responded with a press conference just 5 miles from Energy Transfer Partners’ headquarters in Dallas calling the lawsuit “frivolous” and aimed at trying to stop him from telling the truth about what happened before and after the deadly storms on Abbott’s watch.

“He is trying to stop me from fighting for the people of Texas,” O’Rourke said. “And just as we did before, we are not backing down right now.”

For months, O’Rourke has been blasting Abbott for accepting a $1 million contribution from Warren after the Texas power grid failure during the storm. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Energy Transfer Partners made an additional $2.4 billion last year when the state’s grid manager pushed power prices sky-high to end rolling blackouts. The freeze killed more than 200 people by the state’s estimate and resulted in billions in property damages.

O’Rourke said all he’s done is “connect the dots” for people so they see how Abbott received generous donations from companies that profited on the winter storms.

During a campaign stop in San Antonio last month, O’Rourke said energy companies have essentially paid off Abbott for not being more aggressive and holding them accountable.

“That’s pretty close to a bribe by any definition that I’m familiar with,” O’Rourke said in San Antonio, though he did not call out Warren by name.

Warren also took issue with O’Rourke retweeting a story from Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA in January which details how another energy company, Luminant Corp., had filed a complaint against Energy Transfer Partners with the Texas Railroad Commission. Luminant says in the complaint that Energy Transfer Partners threatened to shut off gas supply to the company unless it paid $22 million in fees connected to the 2021 storms. O’Rourke retweeted the story, with a comment: “That’s extortion.”

In the court filing, Warren’s attorneys argue that O’Rourke’s heated rhetoric has been damaging to “Warren’s reputation and exposed him to public hatred, animus, contempt or ridicule, or financial injury.”

See here and here for some background. A copy of the complaint is here. I almost don’t know where to begin with this. Well, okay, how about what an absolute whiny crybaby snowflake? Did that mean ol’ Beto hurt your widdle fee-fees? Poor, poor, obscenely wealthy baby.

I Am Not A Lawyer, so I’m not going to pretend I know what the likelihood of success for poor downtrodden Kelcy Warren is. I do know that it’s likely months before this ever sees the inside of a courtroom, and if it somehow manages to survive a motion to dismiss it could be a couple of years before we get to the deposition and pretrial hearing stages. But suppose we were to have the lawyers on each side begin the discovery process right now. Who do you think would be more nervous about it, Beto or Abbott? I kind of don’t think Beto will have much to hide. How many emails and texts between Abbott and Warren do you think they might find?

I mean, has anyone introduced ragtag man of the people Kelcy Warren to the Streisand Effect? What better way to make sure that Beto’s main campaign theme is a topic for every local news station to cover on a regular basis? I’ve already seen tweets to this effect, but my first reaction was that Beto is going to have to list this lawsuit as an in-kind donation to his campaign on the July finance report. You literally can’t buy this kind of publicity.

I guess most of us will never understand the pain and suffering and angst and ennui of common folk like Kelcy Warren. We should be grateful to him for performing this service for us. May we come to know him and his inner turmoil much more intimately now. The Trib, who so insensitively refers to Warren as an “oil tycoon”, has more.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in Election 2022, Legal matters and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to One of Abbott’s billionaire patrons just sued Beto

  1. Jeff N. says:

    Thanks for posting a copy of the petition. There’s also a Trump connection here, because of course there is. The lawyers who signed the lawsuit are from the Kasowitz firm in New York City, who have provided legal representation to Trump for years.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    Lots of lawsuits. Tying up courts and wasting resources.

  3. Mainstream says:

    My electric provider (Windrose Power) just now went out of business as a result of the shock of the freeze, and I and all their customers am being switched to another provider in the next few weeks. I find it hard to have much sympathy for some billionaire who feels maligned.

  4. Flypusher says:

    I agree that this is free publicity. The failure to make any substantive fixes to the grid vies with 1/6 insurrection denial/ approval as the #1 reason to vote out the GOP.

    The pushback on this issue I’ve seen from the online commentariat can be summed up as “it’s totally unreasonable to expect the government to provide basic services (like infrastructure). Everyone should buy a home generator and be independent!” Now I could partially agree on the matter of increased individual resilience, and given how violent our weather gets, all dwellings having a backup generator or the solar panels /batteries referenced a couple days ago would be extremely prudent. But the generators have the same issues the solar panels do- they ain’t cheap, and a lot of people can’t afford to make that initial investment, at least not without getting that pesky government involved.

  5. in league city says:

    I had no idea… “don’t think about pink elephants…” has a name. thank you so much for the nugget of knowledge that it’s called the Streisand Effect. Brilliant!
    And spot-on for all points regarding this.

  6. Kibitzer says:

    San Saba County: Why there?

    If you never heard of it, you won’t be alone. This county features about 6,000 souls. So, if it ever comes to a jury trial there, you got a very small pool and hardly a representative cross-section of Texans.

    Why San Saba? – Well, venue in defamation cases can be the county of the plaintiff, rather than the defendant, at the choice of the plaintiff, and that’s apparently where this plaintiff resides.

    CRPC Sec. 15.017.
    LIBEL, SLANDER, OR INVASION OF PRIVACY. A suit for damages for libel, slander, or invasion of privacy shall be brought and can only be maintained in the county in which the plaintiff resided at the time of the accrual of the cause of action, or in the county in which the defendant resided at the time of filing suit, or in the county of the residence of defendants, or any of them, or the domicile of any corporate defendant, at the election of the plaintiff.

    Also noteworthy: The plaintiff is suing as an individual (private citizens); the company is not a party to the action (though mentioned), and he makes it a point that he is not active politically and on social media, just participating in politics with donations. So, his lawyers will likely claim that he is not a public figure or perhaps not even a limited public figure, and that a lower standard applies for winning a defamation case against assertion of the First Amendment as a defense.

    The first hurdle, however, will probably be a motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizen Participation Act (TCPA) or perhaps some other basis, or a motion for summary judgment, possibly followed by a trip to the court of appeals.

    Also of interest: His legal theory is defamation per se based on Beto’s corruption and bribery discourse on the campaign trail constituting false allegations of crimes, but he is also pleading a discovery level III (the highest) and seeking 1 mil plus in damages, including actual damages requiring evidence or harm suffered and exemplary damages as punishment for the allegedly “egregious conduct” undertaken to destroy the plaintiff’s reputation. Regarding the latter, it appears he has followed the Defamation Mitigation Act requirement by demanding a retraction prior to filing suit.

    Kitchen sink of bottomless – or shall we say ceilingless – damages:

    “Nominal, general, actual, special, consequential, exemplary, and punitive damages as described above, in an amount to be determined at trial, but in excess of the jurisdictional limits of this Court”

    Defendant Beto (not so nicknamed) quoted on $1 mill check to Greg Abbott:

    “Looks a lot like a bribe to me.”

    Comment: Looks a lot like a non-actionable opinion to this kibitzer, but what will the judge or the court of appeals conclude? Plus, there are a number of other statements that he complains of.

    It will be interesting to watch this unfold. The publicity will probably do Beto good, and ERCOT appellate litigation is also underway as we chatter, which may provide more fodder on the power supply and reliability front, and keep the matter of casting blame in the public eye.

    CPS Energy v. ERCOT et Magness is now in the Texas Supreme Court:

    And the Dallas COA recently ruled that ERCOT is not immune to suit, albeit in a case unrelated to the Winter Storm fiasco. See Panda Power Generation Infrastructure Fund, LLC, d/b/a et al. v. Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc., Tex. App. Case No. 05-18-00611-CV, Court of Appeals Fifth District of Texas at Dallas (February 23, 2022)

Comments are closed.