Texas Judge Apologizes After Mocking Paralyzed Governor

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
September 30, 2019US News
Texas Judge Apologizes After Mocking Paralyzed Governor
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at Dallas's City Hall in downtown Dallas following the deaths of five police officers last night in Dallas, Texas on July 8, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt has offered an apology after joking that Texas Governor Greg Abbott “hates trees because one fell on him” at the Texas Tribune Festival last Friday.

“In my panel today at the Texas Tribune Festival on ‘Public Enragement’ I spoke about the importance of being able to disagree without being disagreeable. Then I said something disagreeable,” Eckhardt said in a statement, later that day, on Sept. 27, according to The Texas Tribune.

Judge Eckhardt took to Twitter and apologized to Abbott, who became paralyzed from the waist-down in 1984 after a tree hit him when he was jogging.

“I want to apologize to Governor Abbott. I made a flippant comment that was inappropriate. The comment did nothing to further the debate I was participating in, much less further the political discourse in our community, state, and nation. While the Governor and I disagree on a number of issues, that is no excuse to be disagreeable,” she added.

Eckhardt made the remarks in the context of state laws overriding local regulations, such as the Austin tree ordinance. However, among the public was a journalist from the Federalist, John Daniel Davidson, who took to Twitter to report Eckhardt’s remarks, stating, “talking about #txlege overriding local ordinances like Austin’s tree ordinance, says Gov. Abbott ‘hates trees because one fell on him.’ The crowd laughs.”

Not everyone was amused by Eckhardt’s remarks. Travis County Republican Chairman Matt Mackowiak said in a statement: “Judge Eckhardt apparently believes that his disability is open to ridicule if it helps her make a political argument. This joke represents a profound lack of compassion from Judge Eckhardt,” he said.

“After news reports surfaced about her outrageous joke, she has since offered a weak apology. I hope she takes some time to reflect and reaches out to Governor Abbott and his family to also privately apologize. There is no place for insulting Americans with disabilities, and Judge Eckhardt should know better,” Mackowiak added.

Abbott could not immediately be reached for a response.

After his accident, 35 years ago, Abbott filed a lawsuit against the homeowner and the tree service. He said in a 2013 interview with the Texas Tribune:

‘Money doesn’t heal anything. Money doesn’t allow me to walk. It doesn’t allow me to dance with my wife. It doesn’t allow me to pick up my daughter. It doesn’t allow me to walk my daughter down the aisle when she gets married,’ Abbott said during his first campaign for governor.

‘If you could name the person I could write the check to, I’d send all this money right back if I could walk again.’

Governor Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a memorial service for the victims of the Aug. 3 mass shooting on Aug. 14, 2019, at Southwest University Park, in El Paso, Texas. (Jorge Salgado/AP Photo)
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