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TribBlog: King Street Patriots in Court, Again

The Texas Democratic Party takes on the Houston-area Tea Party group for "1960s style" voter intimidation.

Voting signs in Austin during the 2010 election cycle.

The Texas Democratic Party added its name today to the list of parties suing the King Street Patriots for offenses connected to their pre-election activities in Harris County.

It seeks monetary damages against the Houston-area Tea Party group for the "1960s style" voter intimidation it says has already occurred at the polls on the first day of early voting. The complaint also asks the court to halt what it characterizes as in-kind support of Republican candidates in violation of its nonprofit status. During a conference call with reporters, TDP lawyer Chad Dunn accused the group "blatantly ignoring our election laws" and said that, even in the first "three or four hours" of early voting, witnesses in minority precincts had reported representatives from the group "shouting misinformation" and "following voters and standing behind them" as they tried to vote. Dunn said TDP intended to release video of the incidents within the next few days. (Download the full complaint above.)

In an emailed statement, the Liberty Institute, the conservative legal foundation that represents the King Street Patriots, called the lawsuit an "embarrassment" and an attempt to "bind and gag citizens from speaking out during an election." The group is also the subject an ethics complaint filed today by Texans for Public Justice and faces an ongoing defamation lawsuit brought by the Houston lawyer behind a Harris County voter registration drive that leader Catherine Engelbrecht linked to the radical separatist New Black Panthers.

The full statement from the Liberty Institute:

Not coincidentally on the first day of early voting, the Texas Democratic Party filed suit to try to bind and gag citizens from speaking out during an election. That should be embarrassing for any party. Censoring citizens is no way to win elections. It is also unconstitutional. This lawsuit is an embarrassment.

This lawsuit and the coordinated ethics complaint filed by a George Soros funded corporation are bullying tactics to intimidate citizens into silence. It won’t work. Citizens have every right to speak out and encourage citizens to vote and be involved in their government. Trying to bully and intimidate citizens into silence is politics at its worst.

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