Voters already had plenty of reasons to oppose Gary Gates in his vanity campaign for Railroad Commissioner. He’s a six-time loser in various races for public office and he lacks any experience or qualification to regulate the state’s oil and gas industry. And he’s cozied up with the liberal Republican establishment in the Texas House.

Now voters have a much bigger reason. Recently Gates came out as opposed to citizens’ constitutional rights to petition their government.

Gates commented on a series of tweets critical of the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) for its abuse of Texans’ right to score legislators’ voting records and engage in other speech regarding the legislature. On Twitter, Gates attacked Texans for Fiscal Responsibility President Michael Quinn Sullivan, taking the TEC’s position in calling for Sullivan to pay fees to the state in order to produce a legislative scorecard. In so doing, Gates publicly embraced the position that citizens must register and pay a fee to the state before they can comment on how their elected officials vote.

Gates supports TEC

Gates’ opposition to citizens’ right to petition and comment on government without government permission shouldn’t come as a deep surprise. He has cozied up to disgraced State Rep. Jim Keffer—one of the liberal Republican representatives who filed the TEC complaint against Sullivan—and cited him as an expert on energy policy.

Aside from petty attacks on free speech, Gates has also been an outlier in the Republican field on energy policy. Earlier this year, Gates was the only Republican candidate for the Railroad Commission to state that he believes humans are contributing to climate change. He also blamed “climate change” on the state’s coal industry.

Gates faces former Rep. Wayne Christian in the May 24 primary runoff. Christian was recognized as a “taxpayer champion” when he was serving in office.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.