Covey Calls Phelan Trans and DEI Advocate
as Speaker and Challenge Claim HD 21 Lead

Capitol Inside
May 10, 2024

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan's allies are privately predicting a victory with room to spare in an upcoming primary runoff election as overtime foe David Covey attempts to link the incumbent to radical extremists promoting diversity and transgender rights on the far left.

Covey portrayed himself as the leader in the House District 21 runoff on Thursday despite the Phelan team's growing confidence when he post a report on X that accused the speaker and his wife of having close ties to "far-left transgender and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) advocacy groups" across the Lone Star State.

The attack piece in a conservative publication called the National Pulse centers on connections that it claims the Texas speaker and spouse Kim Phelan have with Mental Health America - a nonprofit organization that's the largest in its field with branches in Texas and other states.

The story contends that MHA is a front for radical leftists to promote gender transition surgery, hormone replacement therapy and diversity, equity and inclusion - or DEI - in the mental health industry.

"Additionally, as Speaker, Phelan used his power over the lower legislative chamber’s floor votes to allow a coalition of establishment Republicans and Democrats to push for taxpayer funding for gender transition surgery for minors," the National Pulse asserted in the article.

The publication offered no evidence to support the claim. The House - with Phelan's blessings - has voted in the past three years to ban gender-altering treatment for transgender youth while outlawing trans participants in women college sports in Texas. The LGBTQ+ community was stridently opposed to the legislation that cleared the Legislature's lower chamber without any apparent resitance from Phelan.

The report also alleged that Phelan is making money off the gym Planet Fitness, which it said allows trans females in women dressing rooms, is a tenant in commercial property that the speaker owns. The story that Covey post also rehashes Phelan's leading role in the House's failed attempt to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The story depicts Phelan's wife as a former president and current treasurer for MHA Southeast Texas. It also notes that the organization named Phelan as legislator of the year in Texas in 2019 as a result of his efforts on behalf of mental health. Phelan served as the State Affairs Committee chairman in 2019 under then-Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Phelan won the gavel initially at the start of the regular session in 2021.

As the combined price tag on the HD 21 soars beyond a record-crushing $10 million with the May 28 runoff vote less than three weeks away, Phelan's camp is guardedly optimistic about his odds in round two despite a historic amount of money that's being spent against him by a challenger.

Texas Ethics Commission records show that Phelan raised more than $6.1 million between the outset of January 2023 and the primary election on March 5 when Covey received 46 percent of the vote compared to 43 percent for the speaker. Covey reaped contributions of more than $877,000 before the first vote.

The Alexandria, Virginia-based tracking firm AdImpact Politics reported this week that Covey and Phelan have both had about $3 million spent on their behalf on advertising up to now in HD 21.

The Covey war chest has been bankrolled to a large degree in OT by the Club for Growth Action PAC - a group in Washington D.C. that's been funded by the leading investor in the social site TikTok in Pennsylvania resident Jeff Yass.

Yass has become Governor Greg Abbott's largest donor as well in the past six months. But Abbott has sought to create the appearance of neutrality in the HD 21 showdown. Covey has been hoping the marquee names on his endorsements list like Donald Trump, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton will more than compensate for Phelan's superior war chest.

more to come ...








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