During an interview with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith at South by Southwest on Saturday, Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke tore into GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, calling him “a thug” and an “authoritarian” and accusing Abbott of “taking millions in pay off” for not going after electricity companies for price-gouging in the state.
“I just had a chance to meet with the ambassador from the EU,” O’Rourke told Smith in a crowded hall at the South by Southwest festival. “We talked about the fact that you’re seeing the continued rise of authoritarians and thugs across the world. And we have our own, right here, in the state of Texas.”
Smith asked, “Greg Abbott is a thug in your mind?”
“He’s a thug, he’s an authoritarian,” O’Rourke replied.
To make his case, O’Rourke specifically cited Kelcy Warren, who runs the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and who pocketed millions during the 2021 storms.
“Not only could this guy, through his own incompetence, not keep the lights on in the energy capital of the planet last February, but when people like Kelcy Warren and other energy company CEOs made more than $11 billion in profit over five days — selling gas for 200 times the going rate,” the Texas Democrat said.
“Not only did he not claw back those illegal profits; not only was there no justice for more than 700 people who were killed, who literally froze to deaths in their homes, outside, in their cars, people who are paying now tens of billions of dollars cumulatively to pay for the property damage that the flooding that ensued caused in their homes, but he’s taking millions of dollars in payoffs from these same people. I mean, he’s got his own oligarch here in the state of Texas,” O’Rourke added.
Abbott’s campaign fired back at the Democrat in a statement Saturday.
“It’s unfortunate Beto O’Rourke continues to run a campaign based on fear-mongering and tearing down Texas,” it told the Texas Tribune.
Watch the interview below:
BETO X SXSW
Beto-“…you’re seeing the continued rise of authoritarians and THUGS across the world. And we have our own right here in the state of Texas…
Evan Smith-“Greg Abbott is a THUG in your mind?”
Beto-“He’s a THUG. He’s an authoritarian. Let me make the case…”
— BetoMedia (@BetoMedia) March 12, 2022
Read the full report in The Texas Tribune.