TFC Pins Woke Tail on America's Team
and Abbott Inaugural Chair on Gambling

Capitol Inside
March 21, 2023

A group of GOP state lawmakers who claim to love freedom ramped up their assault on it this week when they aired their opposition to legislation that would legalize sports betting and casino gambling with social media posts that exposed a long list of big-name Texas Republicans as woke.

"We oppose HJR 102 betting on sports and HJR 97 for casinos," the Texas Freedom Caucus announced in a tweet on Sunday. "This is corporate welfare at its worst by giving special privileges to existing wealthy and woke professional sports and gambling businesses. This isn’t a free market, and not worth the harm to families in Texas that comes from gambling addiction."

The 13-member TFC based the position on the same baseless and unsubstantiated assertions that Baptist and other Christian religious advocates have long employed as weapons against moves that would expand gambling in the Lone Star State. One of the organization's newest members - State Rep. Nate Schatzline of Fort Worth - floated some new arguments that appear blatantly fabricated.

"Casinos naturally open the door for an increase in human & drug trafficking as well as other forms of organized crime," Schatzline tweeted. "According to the U.S Department of Justice, “A strong association between casinos and organized crime has historically prevailed in the United States, and casino gambling will always be a big ‘money maker’ for organized crime.”

The rookie representative's attempt to use the DOJ as an ally on this particular issue raised an already high bar on hypocrisy when considering that Texas Republican leaders are fighting the Justice Department tooth and nail in the courts and other venues on a multitude of issues as an extension in their minds of President Joe Biden's administration.

The Texas Freedom Caucus injection of woke into the debate on sports wagering and casinos is a slap in the face of Jerry Jones and Tilman Fertitta as the owners of the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Rockets in the National Football League and the National Basketball Association respectively.

The Cowboys were known as America's Team before the lion's share of Texas Freedom Caucus members were born. Jones contributed almost $1 million to Republicans right before the 2022 general election with Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton as the biggest beneficiaries.

Fertitta - the founder of the Landry's seafood restaurant chain - has been a major donor to Republicans in Texas as well. Fertitta served as the chairman of the Texas inaugural ceremonies for Abbott and Patrick in January. But the Texas Freedom Caucus has implied through its words and actions that the Republicans who've taken campaign cash from the professional sports team owners must be woke as well.

Abbott could be tantamount to a double-dose of woke in light of the fact that he scored a $1 million contribution before the 2022 vote from Miriam Adelson - the owner of the Las Vegas-based Sands that's leading the push for casinos in Texas at the statehouse in Austin this year. Fertitta owns the Golden Nugget hotels and casinos in Vegas and the Louisiana city of Lake Charles near the Beaumont-Port Arthur area.

The TFC could make a case for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as woke even though he claims to be a Republican. Patrick falsely accused Cuban in 2020 of banning the National Anthem at home games. The lieutenant governor sought to make an example of Cuban and the Mavs by pushing through a bill that forced Texas pro sports teams to play the anthem at every home game. Cuban had only put the song on hold at exhibition games and planned to resume its playing when the regular session got under way took extraordinary steps to embarrass him.

Woke has become the Republicans' catchall phrase for everything they don't like but find hard if not impossible to articulate in an intelligent manner or to debate on the actual merits. Texans will be watching to see if the Texas Freedom Caucus comes up with any original thoughts on gambling before the regular session ends this spring.

more to come ...










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