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Texas man arrested after threatening House Speaker Dade Phelan

By William Melhado, The Texas Tribune

Texas man arrested after threatening House Speaker Dade Phelan” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety arrested an Orange County man for making a terroristic threat earlier this month about Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan in a Facebook post, KFDM/Fox 4 News reported.

Special agents with state law enforcement arrested Daniel Troy Leblanc, 45, on Jan. 17 after he wrote a Facebook post referencing the Beaumont Republican that read, “RIGHT NOW… ONE SHOT… ONE KILL…2500M AWAY…0230… IN YOUR RIGHT TEMPLE…” The Examiner, a newspaper based in nearby Beaumont, reported the details of Leblanc’s post.

Leblanc’s message was accompanied by a post taken from the campaign page of David Covey, a GOP activist from the area and Phelan’s primary challenger. Covey’s post criticized the speaker’s record on gun control legislation, but Leblanc’s message was a less coherent critique of Phelan.

“IN NO WAY WILL I ENDORSE dade phelan and his fake hidden evil agenda ways. Mr. Covey is a Godly Man who Chose Politics for GODLY REFORMS to be made,” Leblanc’s post read.

Covey did not immediately return a request for comment.

“Our family is grateful for the assistance of [DPS] and local law enforcement in addressing this threat immediately,” Phelan wrote on social media. “Thank you to all LEO’s throughout the state who protect and serve our communities.”

Earlier this month, Leblanc was charged with terroristic threat, a third-degree felony given Phelan’s status as a public servant. Leblanc could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. Leblanc’s bond was set at $500,000.

Phelan has become a boogeyman of the far-right ahead of the March primary, cast as a “Republican in Name Only” or RINO that the most conservative flank of the party is hoping to oust from the Legislature.

His opponents have attacked Phelan over his refusal to ban Democratic committee chairs and blame him for the failure of GOP priorities, like school vouchers, to make it out of the House. One group sent out fake political mailers last December insinuating that Phelan wanted to wish his constituents a happy Ramadan instead of a Merry Christmas in an effort to cast the speaker as “pro-Muslim.”

After the Phelan-led House, including most Republicans, impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton in May, the acquitted GOP leader has been one of Phelan’s loudest critics. Both Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have attempted to cast Phelan as a party traitor, amid a boiling GOP civil war that intensified after the impeachment.

Earlier this month Paxton went to southeast Texas to campaign against Phelan with Covey.

“We have to protect Texas, and it’s guys like David Covey that are gonna go down there and undo what the speaker has done,” Paxton said on Jan. 15, one day after Leblanc’s post.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/01/29/texas-house-speaker-dade-phelan-threat/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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