The PJ Tatler

Reporter Admits that Houston Mayor Subpoenaing Pastors Hurt Wendy Davis...But Then Gets the Story Entirely Wrong

Wendy Davis never had a chance to be elected governor of conservative Texas, running as a liberal in an anti-liberal wave election. It just wasn’t going to happen, not even if the Democrats could clone Battleground Texas’ Jeremy Bird and put a clone of him in each of the state’s 254 counties.

Davis was hurt by a number of things, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy gets at one of them in this story: abortion. The issue that made her famous was also one of the major reasons that she lost.

Kennedy’s story is well worth the read, as it does break down how problematic Davis’ filibuster turned out to be for her and her party, but apparently he either doesn’t know what happened in Houston, or let some bias slip in.

He admits that the subpoenas of pastors in Houston, in the weeks right before the election, hurt Wendy Davis. They certainly did. But take a look at how Kennedy renders that sordid business.

Davis rarely mentioned her Baptist faith except in her book. It didn’t help when Houston Mayor Annise Parker was drawn into a city legal dispute that involved subpoenaing pastors’ sermons.

That second sentence is entirely incorrect.

Mayor Parker was not “drawn into a city legal dispute that involved subpoenaing pastors’ sermons.” That isn’t what happened.

Parker’s city administration is being sued because it threw out thousands of signatures on petitions that would have put her controversial “bathroom ordinance” up for a vote in a referendum. The lawsuit seeks to get those petitions restored, which would presumably put the ordinance back on the ballot.

Parker’s city administration chose to subpoena five pastors’ sermons and their internal church communications, despite the fact that they are not parties in the lawsuit. They publicly opposed the ordinance, as is their right. But they’re not parties to the lawsuit. The subpoenas also ordered the pastors to appear at a local lawfirm that is known for supporting leftwing causes.

Parker herself defended the subpoenas, at first, in a tweet that she has since deleted. It’s preserved here.

Controversy erupted nationally. Parker and her city attorney backtracked. They claimed not to have read the subpoenas that they had sent out, and which Parker had publicly defended.

They finally had to surrender and rescind the original subpoenas and issue new ones that omit the sermons, which are all publicly available on the churches’ websites anyway. There was never any need at all to subpoena those sermons.

None of that is captured in Kennedy’s writing that Parker was “drawn into a city legal dispute that involved subpoenaing pastors’ sermons.” Perhaps he just didn’t follow the story. There was a whole lot going on.

But that section of Kennedy’s story is so far from the facts that it ought to be corrected.