McKinney – The Face of Government Creep
One of the biggest lies elected officials believe is that their number one job is to represent their constituents, whomever they believe those constituents to be. This is a fallacy. The most overly represented crowd these days are the “easily triggered”. Enter the City of McKinney and it’s city council.
In October of 2017 the city passed an ordinance banning electioneering in the city except in their “Designated Area for Electioneering”. Electioneering is the simple act of talking to someone about the upcoming or current election. The council said they had to pass this ordinance in order to allow people to go vote without having to engage campaigns on their way in. The mayor actually stated he believes people have this right – although he never sourced where that right came from. The right to seek political redress of our government is a fundamentally ‘all American’ value, but McKinney city council members believe it is their job to respond to the easily triggered over protecting the right to engage in political speech.
In doing so, each council member demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of their actual first job – to protect the freedoms and liberties of everyone in McKinney. They utterly forget they took an oath, not to some triggered citizens, rather to uphold the Constitution. The 1st Amendment specifically includes: “ the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The first amendment specifically addresses the right of the people to petition the Government for redress. That IS ELECTIONEERING. That is a behavior the Council has cited me for doing.
During the primary I, along with others, decided to electioneer in McKinney at the John and Judy Gay Library. This was the second busiest location in the county, so any campaign would want to have a representative there engaging voters. The only issue was the city had designated a free speech zone over 300 feet away from the entrance in the muddy swamp field. Their goal was clearly to keep any campaign from actually engaging voters and petitioning their government for redress. So I, along with others from Philip Huffines’ campaign and a representative of the North Texas Conservative Coalition, began engaging voters about the important issues and candidates on the ballot. We remained well outside the 100′ marker, which is State Law, but in the parking lot engaging voters outside the city’s ludicrous free speech zone.
Shortly after we began electioneering McKinney city police officers showed up. After several hours of discussions with the police chief and legal council, the officers decided to leave without citing anyone. Early voting went on for another 9 days and each day either police or code enforcement would arrive, take pictures, and leave. Occasionally they would engage us.
Thursday March 1st a code enforcement officer actually came out and began deciding which flyers were acceptable and which were not! McKinney was discriminating based on the manner in which your flyers were printed! Finally, on Friday the 2nd at 5 PM, McKinney code enforcement showed up and cited a number of us who were electioneering. It’s important to note they waited until the last hour to do so, instead of anytime the previous 9 days. They know their legal position is weak.
With election day being March the 6th, Matt Langston, Brent Connett, Devin Huffines, Jake Thomas, and myself (all cited by the city for electioneering) filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to keep the city from enforcing the ordinance on election day. This would allow all the campaigns to electioneer on March 6th without fear of citation or incarceration. We won and were granted the TRO. TROs are only good for 14 days, so that was followed up by a Injunction against the city. After a District Court hearing, Judge Benjamin Smith granted us an Injunction against the City of McKinney.
We told the city upfront that if they attempted to enforce the ordinance we would take them to court. The city literally laughed. See this video in which Mayor Fuller and city councilman Branch share a laugh over our notices of lawsuit.
This is no laughing matter. Judge Smith has ordered a trial for May 14th to determine the Constitutionality of their ordinance. In his order he had very strong words which are the basis of our suit. He stated: “Ordinance No. 2017-10-095 is not content neutral.””The city of McKinney has not demonstrated a compelling governmental interest in justifying of Ordinance 2017-10-095.””Plaintiffs have a probable right to the relief they seek because the McKinney city Ordinance…is facially unconstitutional. Deprivation of the right of free speech is an immediate injury for which there is no adequate remedy at law. Plaintiffs are currently forced to self-censor their political speech.” “The granting of this temporary injunction is necessary because of Plaintiff’s deprivation of the right to speak and of the imminent threat that the Defendant will attempt to enforce McKinney city Ordinance.” You can read the full order HERE. I hope the mayor and council are no longer laughing.
I wonder if Mayor Fuller is surprised to discover that placating the easily triggered is not a compelling reason to limit speech? This is a city well known for overreach and insanity. Lets not forget, McKinney is no stranger to losing lawsuits. Last year the city sued and lost, TWICE, on their overreach related to the ETJ.
Every council member voted for this ordinance. Every one. One councilman, Chuck Branch, is attempting to distance himself from the vote, largely due to the fact that he is now running for state SREC. In conversation with Branch he made it clear he still supports the intent of the ordinance, but didn’t like how it was being enforced. In other words, he’s sorry they got called out. I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that while we are winning in court, not a single elected official has reached out to help. Collin County touts itself as being a beacon of conservatism, but when citizens need their rights protected, the silence is deafening.
We will go to court on May 14th, assuming the city doesn’t delay, and prove conclusively the ordinance is unconstitutional. It is sad that it takes this much fighting and legal bills to protect what used to be an all American value. Local governments are the single biggest threat to our individual freedoms. They consistently chip away at them in the name of safety and convenience. This time at least, McKinney won’t get away with it.