Abbott’s inauguration heist would make Trump jealous

by | Dec 18, 2020 | Politics, Texas Elections

A joint investigation by the Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle this week detailed where the cash went into Gov. Greg Abbott’s 2019 inauguration.

It was already known the governor spent a record-setting amount of cash on his own two inaugurations, including spending tens of thousands on bonuses and commission salaries.

Of the $5.3 million spent in Abbott’s 2019 inauguration, almost 2 million went to payroll, fundraising costs, and commission, according to Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle. 

Worst of all, taxpayers ended up paying $116,000 to discover the information since the state spent more than a year in court battling its release. Even something as simple as how much Abbott spent on hiring country music singer George Strait ($1.7 million) wasn’t known until now. 

Tallying up the facts, it appears as if Abbott paid fellow GOP operators and fundraisers hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw himself a big, egregious party.

Abbott’s inauguration broke records not only in how much it costs to run but also what its fixers stood to gain — it’s a heist that would make Trump jealous. 

Abbott’s campaign finance director Sarah Whitley, for example, received more than half a million dollars for her role in the festivities. 

It’s not the first time Abbott has been accused of enriching his friends.

In April, the governor was criticized for appointing billionaire donors of his campaign and industry lobbyists to a special advisory council influencing the state’s reopening. One analysis by The Dallas Morning News found more than half of the panel’s members were former campaign donors.

The details of Abbott’s inauguration is the latest scandal to hit the governor and his closest allies. Former Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen was forced to retire earlier this year due to a secret recording, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is currently facing accusations of bribery and abuse of office in addition to his years long quest to delay a separate criminal trial for which Paxton is remains indicted. 

Photo: Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at

Are you tired of Texas Republicans pushing big lies and trying to steal your vote? So are we, that’s why we’re fighting back against the right-wing lie machine. Our commitment to ethical, fact-based journalism is vital to our democracy, and we can’t do it without you. Consider donating today to help us stay in this fight.

Continue Reading

Early Voting In Austin Starts

Early Voting In Austin Starts

Texas isn't quite done with election season yet. Early voting started today in Austin for several important runoff races. In the mayor's race, State Representative Celia Israel faces former mayor and state senator Kirk Watson. Israel came in first in the November...

Anti-Abortion Group Sues FDA Over Abortion Pill

Anti-Abortion Group Sues FDA Over Abortion Pill

One of the key groups behind the overturning of Roe v. Wade has filed another anti-abortion lawsuit, this one in Texas. Alliance Defending Freedom sued the FDA last week to reverse federal approval of mifepristone, a medication that can terminate an early pregnancy....