State Representative Jeff Leach was sued yesterday in Parker County Court at Law by Morgan McComb, a member of an organization that advocates for the secession of Texas from the United States of America.
Leach has been an outspoken opponent of the self-styled “Texit” movement that promotes Texas secession. On March 6, 2023, McComb tweeted to Leach, “Are you accusing me of treasonous sedition? A person who is tired of living under the boot of the federal govt. Texans who love this state?” McComb’s lawsuit alleges that Leach defamed her when he responded to her tweet with “If you believe that Texas should secede from the United States of American# – then yes. Unequivocally yes.”
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The lawsuit against Leach appears to be covered by Chapter 27 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, which is more commonly known as the Texas “anti-SLAPP” law. This statute protects communications “made in connection with a matter of public concern.” It allows for the expedited dismissal of lawsuits if the court finds that the case was based on or in response to a defendant’s exercise of their rights to free speech, petition, or freedom of association and the plaintiff bringing the lawsuit is unable to establish “by clear and specific evidence a prima facie case for each essential element of the claim in question.”
A court that dismisses a lawsuit on an anti-SLAPP motion is required to award the prevailing movant court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees and has the discretion to award additional sanctions.
The lawsuit also claims that McComb is a constituent of Rep. Leach. However, that claim appears to be false. The case was filed in Parker County and stated that McComb is a resident of Parker County. Leach represents Texas House District 67, which encompasses part of Collin County. Leach’s district does not include any portion of Parker County.
McComb has been active in political circles over the last several years and has recently worked as a paid staff member for former State Representative Jonathan Stickland’s Defend Texas Liberty political action committee. Campaign finance records show that McComb was paid $13,060 by Defend Texas Liberty last year, and a total of $33,338.94 since 2020. McComb is currently under felony indictment in Collin County on a charge of online impersonation, with a trial set for next month.
The Texas Nationalist Movement, of which McComb serves as canvassing coordinator, has been featured at recent meetings of the True Texas Project, which has also received financial support from Defend Texas Liberty. The Texas Voicehas previously written about the links between the Texas Nationalist Movement and a handful of Texas politicians and advocacy groups.
Attorney Paul Davis represents McComb in her lawsuit against Leach. Davis gained notoriety in 2021 after he was fired from his job after he posted a video of himself outside of the United States Capitol on January 6. Davis also represented a group of plaintiffs that filed suit in Federal court after the 2020 election to enjoin the 117th Congress and President Biden from enacting legislation or “making any substantial departures from United States policy, foreign and domestic, as it existed prior to their unlawful usurpation of power on January 3, 2021, and January 20, 2021” and requested the court to appoint “a group of trusted special masters to provide oversight to the Usurpers.” That lawsuit was eventually voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs.
UPDATE: Representative Leach released the following statement in response to McComb’s lawsuit:
“This morning, while presiding over a public hearing of the Texas House Judiciary Committee, I was served with a lawsuit filed against me in Parker County. Needless to say, the claims are entirely without merit and I intend on fighting back – and doing so vigorously. As Chairman of the Texas House Judiciary Committee – I know first-hand that the Texas Justice system works to ensure justice and to safeguard our Constitutional liberties and freedoms. And I am confident that this case will be no different. This will be my only statement on this matter and any future inquiries will be directed to my counsel.”