After being confronted by a constituent over a pro-abortion vote he took during the last legislative session, one state representative tried to intimidate the voter into silence by threatening his job.
On Thursday, a constituent of State Rep. Ernest Bailes (R–Shepherd) challenged Bailes’ campaign rhetoric on pro-life issues. This prompted a response from Bailes, first by lying about his vote, and then attacking the man’s employment.
The exchange came after Bailes posted an advertisement on Facebook touting his endorsement by two phony pro-life organizations, Texas Alliance for Life and Texans for Life. Both groups exist to provide cover to establishment politicians during their primary elections. In the post, Bailes bragged that his voting record was “100% pro-life.”
Pro-life issues have taken center-stage in the race as Bailes is being challenged in the primary by Emily Kebodeaux Cook, the political director and general counsel for Texas Right to Life, the Lone Star State’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.
A constituent took issue with Bailes’ dishonesty about his record on life issues and confronted the lawmaker with the facts.
During the debate on Senate Bill 8, an omnibus pro-life bill, State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler) offered an amendment to close a loophole in current law that allows abortions for children with fetal abnormalities to be performed after the statutory 20-week cut-off. The motion was narrowly defeated with every Democrat and a minority of Republican members voting to table the amendment.
In his response, Bailes claims “there never was a vote to support or oppose” the Schaefer amendment. That is blatantly false.
As explicitly stated in the rules of the Texas House, a motion to table a measure has the same effect as a straight up or down vote on the measure itself.
Rule 7 Sec. 12 of the Texas House Rules:
A motion to lay on the table, if carried, shall have the effect of killing the bill, resolution, amendment, or other immediate proposition to which it was applied.
Simply put, a vote to table an amendment is a vote to kill the amendment. Bailes voted to table Schaefer’s amendment to strengthen the omnibus pro-life bill, and thus voted to kill it, directly contrary to what he claimed in the Facebook comment. He knows that, but he apparently hopes that by lying to his constituents and using legislative jargon, he can mislead and confuse them into believing the opposite of the truth.
Bailes then alarmingly threatened the constituent’s job, stating that he is a customer of the the bank where the man worked, that the original comment was made on “company time,” and that the constituent needed to be “mindful.” Bailes then tagged the man’s boss in the comment.
This kind of outrageous behavior has been seen from establishment lawmakers in the House before. In 2014, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) threatened local small business owners who dared display signs for his opponent’s campaign in their shop windows.
Bailes’ attempt to mislead constituents on his voting record isn’t surprising. The freshman lawmaker earned a dismal 42% on both the Texas Right to Life Pro-Life Scorecard and the Fiscal Responsibility Index. Early voting is currently underway and the race will be decided on March 6th.