A North Texas county judge photographed ignoring his own social distancing guidelines now claims he’s always disagreed with public health advisors. A number of citizens expressed displeasure with the judge after the interview took place.
After photos surfaced of Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley (R) not wearing a mask in August and having a number of parked cars and a camper at his home for Thanksgiving, he called in to the Chris Salcedo show to defend himself.
There is currently a countywide mask mandate that fines businesses for allowing people in without a mask (with certain exemptions), and Whitley previously appeared in an interview with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins (D) warning against large family gatherings.
“We have to quit trying to make this a political issue, and we have to just understand that we’ve got to wear the masks,” Whitley said at the time. “But we’ve got to do the social distancing. We need to stay at home as much as possible.”
On Salcedo’s program today, however, Whitley distanced himself from the county’s public health department.
“I will tell you that throughout this pandemic, I have not agreed with everything [the public health department] wants to do,” he said. “But in this particular instance, they said they would like for [the guidance] to be: ‘Do not attend gatherings other than your immediate household.’ Well, the folks that I had over at Thanksgiving were my immediate family. It was myself, my wife, our two oldest children, and their families.”
In all, Whitley said there were 12 people at his house for the holiday. “They do not all live with me,” he said.
He claimed the camper was rented to visit his 96-year-old mother-in-law in Wichita Falls.
“We rented an RV, and I drove that up to Wichita Falls on Friday. Again, this time, all three of our kids went up. We had 11 people who up to visit her,” Whitley said.
“We stayed outside, and we made it very clear we wore masks … we did not go inside. And I said, ‘If anybody needs to use the restroom, that’s why we brought the camper.’” Whitley called the RV a “real expensive porta-potty.”
When asked about a photo Whitley’s daughter posted of him not wearing a mask during her birthday party, he didn’t deny its authenticity.
“I don’t know what photo you’re referring to, but there are times when our immediate family is together … there would be times where I might have a picture taken with one of my children or my grandchildren, and I may not have a mask on,” he said.
Whitley also claimed he didn’t agree with text alerts from the public health department scaring citizens into avoiding large family gatherings.
“To be very honest with you, I was not aware they were going to do that and don’t agree with what they did,” Whitley told Salcedo.
The public health department and its director, Dr. Vinny Taneja, report to the commissioners court—for which Whitley serves as the spokesman.
After the interview with Salcedo, a number of citizens expressed displeasure with Whitley.
“I did not hear any apology,” John Banner posted.
“He sounded like he was explaining why his hand was in the cookie jar but he didn’t actually take a cookie,” wrote Diane Johnson.
“Whitley needs to step down,” True Texas Project CEO Julie McCarty commented.
“Another ‘do as I say, not as I do’ tyrant,” wrote Kurt Fisher.
As of now, neither Whitley nor the commissioners—who have the power to override him—have shown interest in rescinding the countywide mask mandate. On Tuesday night, Whitley told local Christians he would not consider adding a religious exemption to the county mask mandate.
Republican Party of Texas Chairman Allen West has called for the Texas legislature to take up the issue of executive overreach in the upcoming legislative session.
Concerned citizens may contact their elected state representative and state senator.