Newly released text messages point to a meeting between Democrats and House Speaker Dade Phelan, just days before the Democrat lawmakers fled for Washington, D.C.
An open records request sent by Texas Freedom Coalition—a group that describes itself as a “grassroots organization that stands for personal liberty”— to Phelan and State Rep. Joe Moody (D–El Paso) asked for communications between the two lawmakers or their staffs from July 5-14.
Phelan’s office claimed they had no records responsive to the request, but Moody’s office provided something different: a text message exchange between Moody and Phelan.
On the morning of July 9, the second day of the first special session, Moody texted Phelan to ask for a meeting.
“Based on things I’m hearing on our side of the aisle, I think it’s important to sit down with that same group we sat down with on Sine Die [the last day of the regular session on May 31] and discuss where things are, and where they might go,” Moody tells Phelan, suggesting they hold the meeting later that day.
“Things are certainly fragile, but with some good planning I think they can potentially be manageable,” he added.
Phelan then agrees to the meeting, saying, “Sure thing.”
At the time of the exchange, Moody was serving as speaker pro tempore to Phelan, a “No. 2” position the speaker had given him earlier this year.
On July 15, three days after Democrats fled, Phelan stripped Moody of the position.
Though what took place during this meeting is unknown, it’s not the first time Phelan has met with Democrats.
On the penultimate night of the regular session in May, when an omnibus election integrity bill was up for final consideration on the floor of the House, Democrats were told by Speaker Phelan in a meeting that if they left the chamber, he would not lock the doors or send for them.
So, that’s exactly what they did. And the bill died.
On this occasion, Democrats apparently took a few days after their meeting with Phelan before packing their bags and leaving for D.C. on July 12.
Texas Freedom Coalition says they believe the record “shows that Speaker Dade Phelan likely had prior knowledge of the planned break in quorum by the Texas House Democratic Caucus,” in addition to possible coordination.
“Texas Freedom Coalition also believes that the Texas House Democratic Caucus break in quorum could have been prevented by Representative Dade Phelan, and that the national political theater that has ensued since the break in quorum has been used by both high-profile Texas Democrats and Republicans to fundraise and campaign, some on a national level,” the group added in a statement.
Phelan’s office did not respond for request to comment on the discrepancy between the response given by his office and the one sent by Moody’s.