O’Rourke says Texas oil tycoon is suing him for defamation
Texas gubernatorial hopeful and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) said Monday that he is being sued by an oil tycoon over comments he made about the state’s electric grid failure last year.
O’Rourke told reporters Monday that Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer, had filed the suit against him in state court.
“He is going to try to take me to court, use his billions of dollars to try to shut me down and shut us up from telling the story of what happened to the people of Texas,” the former Democratic presidential candidate said.
“We are not backing down,” he added, calling the suit “frivolous.”
Warren is a billionaire who has historically donated to Republicans.
Energy Transfer operates the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and has energy facilities throughout Texas.
The Texas Tribune reported that Warren donated $1 million to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), O’Rourke’s opponent, amid a surge in energy donations last year. The paper said that he had also previously donated to the candidate.
The newspaper cited energy experts as saying that a flood of energy industry donations received by officials “looks like a reward for not passing more stringent regulations.”
Last February, a winter storm hit Texas, causing blackouts and killing dozens — or even hundreds — of people.
O’Rourke has sharply criticized the industry in its aftermath, including Warren and his company, and has suggested a connection between donations and policy actions.
Energy Transfer spokesperson Vicki Anderson Granado said in an email that Warren was not interested in “barring Mr. O’Rourke from talking about the winter storm” but rather that want he is interested in “stopping are the irresponsible, defamatory and highly offensive statements by Mr. O’Rourke related to his donation to Governor Abbott’s campaign.”
“This is also the right of every Texan and every American to contribute to the campaigns of candidates they support without being defamed in the process. Mr. O’Rourke’s statements are flat-out false, and they appear to have been made for political gain in a desperate attempt to overcome what appears to be a weakening campaign to unseat Governor Abbott,” the spokesperson said.
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