The Houston Chronicle’s Editorial Board tried to paint Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as a man who would utilize the grief bore by the wife of a fallen police officer to help him push his political agendas. The Chron didn’t count on the widow speaking out against them, however.
On March 23, the Chron’s editorial board published an article titled “Gov. Abbott’s ‘bail reform’ bill endangers real reforms in Texas.” In the beginning paragraph and moments within the article, the Houston Chronical attempted to make it seem as if Abbott was forcing Kasey Allen, widow of State Trooper Damon Allen who was killed in the line of duty in 2017, to promote a bail reform bill.
The “Damon Allen act” would allow a magistrate to set bail on a case by case basis depending on the history of the individual in prison. Officer Allen was killed during a routine traffic stop by a man who made bail despite having a history of assaulting officers.
The Chron offered reasons why they rejected the bill, but made it seem as if Abbott was forcing Allen’s widow to appear as a prop to drive emotional support for it:
The worst kind of politics plays on the emotions of people when they are most vulnerable. That appears to be the case with Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been shamelessly exploiting the widow of a slain state trooper to push a bail reform bill that would do little to change the current system other than give his office more control over it.
They also later added…:
More disturbing is how Abbott seems to have persuaded Trooper Allen’s widow to travel across the state to promote Kacal’s bill. A bad bail decision played a crucial role in her husband’s death, but so did other factors.
Kasey Allen read the editorial and fired back at the Chron, correcting the record in a letter to the publication, obliterating their inability to even check with her about her positions and painting her as a hapless victim of political machinations when that wasn’t the case at all:
I would like to say that I am an extremely independent, opinionated and strong-willed person. No one, including the governor of the great state of Texas, tells me what to do or how to do it. The allegation was particularly shocking, since I was not given the usual courtesy given to anyone who is named in an editorial. I could have set the record straight. But instead, you put out whatever opinions about me and my relationship with the governor and his office that your newspaper wished.
Allen proceeded to tell the real story that the Chron failed to tell.
“On the day of my husband’s funeral, the governor came in to give his condolences. I immediately stopped him and explained to him the plans I had for legislation I’d like to see,” wrote Allen. “I also told him that I would be calling and setting up an appointment for him to hear a more detailed presentation.”
Allen wrote that she and Abbott worked together to put the bill together, and that she would be present at any presentation that utilized her husband’s name regardless of time frame or cost. Allen stressed that at no time did Abbott ever pressure to do anything against her interests.
“He has never, at any time, asked me to go anywhere or do anything that I didn’t want to,” wrote Allen. “I have spent my time and my effort reviewing the bail reform bills that have been presented this session. I support the governor’s plan, because I believe it makes Texas safer.”
Abbott himself Tweeted out a response as well, slamming the Chron for insultingly misrepresenting the widow of a slain officer.
“The Houston Chronicle trampled on the widow of a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty. They insulted her integrity without even calling her to get her input,” tweeted Abbott. “The widow wants bail reform so killers like her husband’s won’t be out on bail.”
The Houston Chronicle trampled on the widow of a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty. They insulted her integrity without even calling her to get her input. The widow wants bail reform so killers like her husband's won't be out on bail. https://t.co/ja0lF1MBRt
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 1, 2019
This was a despicable move by the Houston Chronicle. While its editorial board may disagree with the Republican approach to bail reform and favor the Democrat’s approach, the lie that Abbott was using a widow’s grief for his own political purposes was both gross and unnecessary.