The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, January 6 – Nothing in Montgomery County’s Emergency Management Plan authorized County Judge Mark Keough to:
- Order closure of churches;
- Order closure of all businesses in Montgomery County, other than those he deemed “essential”;
- Protect liquor stores from closure;
- Protect car dealerships from closure;
- Order a curfew;
- Order individuals to remain locked down in their homes;
- Impose criminal penalties for violations of Keough’s order.
Besides violating basic Constitutional rights of individuals and churches, Keough had no authority whatsoever to take those actions, regardless of how panic-stricken he may have felt at the time.
Documents this newspaper sought under the Texas Public Information Act have revealed that, in addition to Texas statutes not authorizing the orders, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough had no authority whatsoever, even under the County government’s local written management plans to issue the local business closure, church closure, and lockdown orders he issued on March 16 and March 27, 2020. The Golden Hammer obtained Montgomery County’s emergency management plans in effect when Keough issued the lockdown, ordered businesses to close, and imposed a countywide curfew.
Both Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code and Montgomery County’s own “emergency management plans” did not authorize Keough’s actions.
Keough’s March 16 and March 27 orders threw more than 70,000 individuals into unemployment, when he shut down local churches and ordered local businesses, other than those he deemed “essential,” to close. Keough included liquor stores and car dealerships among the “essential” business he declared by fiat in response to his panic over false and data-devoid reports scaring him into believing there would be over 200,000 Chinese Coronavirus cases and over 1,000 deaths in Montgomery County alone by April 21. There have been 189 Montgomery County deaths through January 6, 2021.
In response to an alleged “break-in” at one of his personal warehouses, Keough ordered a curfew on March 27, 2020, with no authority whatsoever to do so under Texas law. Keough included in his March 27 order a threat that any violator would be subject to a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days of incarceration.
It turns out, however, that Keough’s panicked actions had no legal authority whatsoever and clearly violated the Constitution’s Separation of Powers Doctrine, which requires the Legislature to act before an executive may create or enforce any laws.
In Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Motion for Emergency Temporary Restraining Order in a recent case against El Paso County Judge Richard Samaniego, Paxton declared, “County judges and mayors do not have independent authority to issue emergency orders carrying the force and effect of law, as this is not one of the powers granted to such local officials under section 418.108.” Keough claimed to issue his illegal mandates in March under Section 418.108 of the Texas Government Code just as the Democrat Samaniego did.
Texas Government Code Section 418.108 makes clear that local orders during a state or local “disaster” under that statute must be in accordance with local emergency management plans already in place for the county where they issue. As a result, The Golden Hammer requested a copy of Montgomery County’s Emergency Management Plan in effect when Keough panicked.
The Government Code itself makes clear that local officials only have the authority to control “ingress and egress” from disaster areas in response to a disaster, but, even that authority must fall under emergency management plans previously devised prior to the actual disaster declaration.
Montgomery County’s Emergency Management Department did, in fact, prepare and garner approval of an Emergency Management Plan from the Commissioners Court. That Plan was in place since June 30, 2015, when former Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal signed off on the Plan after the Commissioners Court had approved it.