Billionaire suing Beto for $1 million in damages

Ash Jurberg
Photo byWikiCommons Images

With the race for Texas Governor over, the next battle for Beto O'Rouke is court.

Earlier this year, Kelcy Warren, the Dallas pipeline tycoon with a net worth of $5 billion, sued Beto over his criticism of Warren's company's profits after the 2021 winter storm.

After the storm hit Texas, Warren made a $1 million donation to Greg Abbott. Beto called this a quid pro quo and referenced the donation several times during his run for Texas Governor. Beto also alleged that Abbott and Warren conspired to leave the Texas power grid vulnerable in order to profit from the event.

Warren is the co-founder of Energy Transfer and filed the lawsuit in February in the state district court in San Saba County. He is seeking more than $1 million in damages due to Beto's "relentless and malicious attack" on him.

Beto responded to the lawsuit by saying:

[Warren is] not only trying to influence the political process through the campaign donations he’s making, not only did he make illegal windfall profits off the suffering, misery, and death, of our fellow Texans, he’s now trying to shut us down in the courts through a frivolous lawsuit.”

Attorneys for Beto also said there are protections for the "First Amendment rights of a gubernatorial candidate to speak freely regarding matters of utmost importance to Texans" — like the "exorbitant fees charged" by gas suppliers."

Meanwhile, Warren's lawyers state in their brief that Beto knows the donation made by Warren to Abbott "was legal and does not constitute a 'bribe' or 'corruption.' The defendant knows that because he himself has actively solicited millions of dollars in donations (including by those in the energy industry), including a $1 million campaign contribution from billionaire George Soros."

Beto has filed a motion for the case to be dismissed, and today, both sides were questioned by the three-judge panel, which included Chief Justice Darlene Byrne and justices Gisela Triana and EdBeto'smith. Interestingly all three "judges are Democrats.

Beto's lawyer Chad Dunn argued that “the minute you give $1 million to a gubernatorial candidate in one of the largest states, in Texas, you can expect attention. Mr. O’Rourke’s attention was not libel or slander.”

Warren's lawyer responded:

There was no ongoing debate about whether Mr. Warren was a criminal or not” until O’Rourke made his allegations.”

The court case is ongoing.

Your thoughts

Do you agree with Beto that the donation was a kickback for being allowed to profit from the Texas Winter Storm? Or do you side with Warren that Beto's remarks are defamatory and he should be liable for damages?

Please leave a comment below with your opinion and share this article with others so they can join the conversation.

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San Antonio, TX

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