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Mon Oct 1, 2018, 01:49 AM

Will Matt Rinaldi Pay for Calling ICE on Latino Protesters?

The North Texas Republican has made enemies during his time in the Freedom Caucus, including police unions and his GOP predecessor. Democrats look to capitalize in November.

On the final day of last year’s legislative session, hundreds of mostly Hispanic protesters filed into the Capitol gallery overlooking the Texas House floor. Dressed all in red, they draped large banners over the gallery railing and drowned out the legislative proceedings with chants against the recently signed “sanctuary cities” ban. Some Democratic lawmakers applauded the demonstrators; Representative Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, preferred to start some shit.

First, Rinaldi called an ICE hotline to report the protesters, whom he presumed to be undocumented. Then, he walked over to a group of Hispanic lawmakers and bragged about the call. Representative Poncho Nevárez pushed Rinaldi, and Rinaldi threatened to shoot Nevárez — an altercation that made national headlines and capped off a toxic legislative session. Liberals quickly promised that Rinaldi, who won his 2016 election by less than 2 percentage points, had signed his own political death warrant. “Texans will ensure that Republican Matt Rinaldi’s pathetic political career and dangerous agenda comes to an end,” avowed Manny Garcia, deputy director of the Texas Democratic Party.

Executing that warrant now falls to Julie Johnson, 52, a longtime Dallas trial attorney. With a campaign emphasizing public education and health care, Johnson has shown fundraising chops, pulling in more than $450,000 as of July — more than four times Rinaldi’s haul over the same period. In a district that’s only 42 percent Anglo and that Hillary Clinton carried by 8 points, Johnson, whose wife is a physician, has homed in on Rinaldi’s ICE call and record of supporting anti-LGBT legislation. “People in this district don’t appreciate their representative being discriminatory and behaving in a bigoted way as he has,” Johnson told the Observer.

Johnson added that some of her campaign volunteers were among the protesters Rinaldi reported to ICE. For his part, Rinaldi told the Observer that voters in his district view his call to ICE as “reasonable” and said the protesters were “shutting down our legislature by force and resisting police officers.”

Read more: https://www.texasobserver.org/will-matt-rinaldi-pay-for-calling-ice-on-latino-protesters/

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