Citing a lack of jurisdiction, federal District Judge David Counts has dismissed Empower Texans Inc.’s lawsuit seeking to shield itself from prosecution for mailers it sent in the HD99 primary race.

The group, operating under the assumed name Texas Ethics Disclosure Board, sent mail pieces to HD99 voters purporting to provide notice of Rep. Charlie Geren’s (R-Fort Worth) relationship with a registered lobbyist, his wife Mindy Ellmer. A Tarrant Co. voter lodged a criminal complaint, which the Travis Co. District Attorney’s office said was “under review.” Empower Texans filed suit to prevent the district attorneys of Midland, Tarrant and Travis Cos. and the attorney general from investigating the potential criminal violation. “Fear of prosecution has had a chilling effect” on the group’s speech, the lawsuit contended.

HD99 Mailer

“At this point, no Texas governmental entity has filed an indictment, made a threat, commenced an official investigation, contacted Plaintiff, or even expressed an official or unofficial opinion that Plaintiff’s conduct is proscribed by stature,” the court ruled. “Accordingly, the only government action that Plaintiff can cite as ‘chilling’ its First Amendment speech is that a district attorney’s office is ‘reviewing’ a private citizen’s complaint.” Because Empower Texans did not demonstrate a credible threat of prosecution, the court ruled it has no jurisdiction to take action and accordingly dismissed, or found moot, all pending motions.

Runoff Crib Sheets: We have added special Crib Sheets listing the Republican and Democratic runoff races for statewide, legislative, board of education and federal offices.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC