Harris County denies Mattress Mack's claims that admin lacks transparency regarding 2022 election

Harris County elections officials say the Attorney General must decide whether or not to release documents involved in litigation.

Charly Edsitty Image
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Harris Co. denies Mack's claims that election admin wasn't transparent
"We want transparency in Harris County," Mattress Mack said Tuesday. "If the election officials did their job, God bless them, A+. If they didn't, somebody needs to be held accountable."

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Furniture store owner and philanthropist Jim McIngvale, known as Mattress Mack, officially spoke out regarding a lawsuit he filed against the Harris County Elections Administrator's Office.

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, McIngvale said the office -- particularly Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum -- is withholding documents that he believes will shed light on problems that came up during the 2022 November election.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Mattress Mack files lawsuit against Harris County regarding 2022 election problems

He claims the lawsuit is not a political move, but instead, a move to advocate for all the voters in Harris County.

The Gallery Furniture owner recently appeared in advertisements supporting Republican nominee Alexandra del Moral Mealer, who lost the Harris County Judge's race to incumbent Democrat Lina Hidalgo.

The lawsuit focuses on some of the reported problems Harris County voters experienced back in November and the quest to obtain specific documents to better understand what went wrong. It specifically names issues such as shortages of paper ballots in some precincts, machine glitches, and even paper jams -- all of which were admitted by the county in a report.

RELATED: Harris Co. election issues caused by short staffing, malfunctioning machines, paper jams, Astros win

"We want transparency in Harris County. We want to shine the light on this. If the election officials did their job, God bless them, A+. If they didn't, somebody needs to be held accountable," McIngvale said at Tuesday's press conference.

McIngvale is working with private investigator, Wayne Dolcefino -- who says they submitted six different requests asking for documents like emails and text messages to and from Tatum.

They say those requests were denied each time by the county election's office, which cited a "litigation exception" under a section of the Texas government code.

The argument is that the voters have a right to those documents, and the information could provide clarity into how problems were handled as they were happening.

SEE ALSO: Harris County district attorney launches investigation into reported election issues

"We're in this for the people of Harris County. The people of Harris County deserve to have fair elections and know that every vote counts. If every vote counts, whether it's D or R that wins, so be it, but things that are opaque and not transparent and not good for Harris County and not good for the city," McIngvale said. "We are working hard to make Harris County a better place and a transparent place."

ABC13 reporter Charly Edsitty reached out to the Harris County Election Administrator's Office, who provided the following statement:

"Since the lawsuits filed starting in November and more recently on January 6th, the Elections Administrator's Office has and will continue to follow the law and Texas Election Code. The office has responded with transparency to two audit requests from the state, and has released an assessment on the November 2022 election.

The office has readily responded to public information requests not requiring documents subject to the litigation. Any request that involves information involved in litigation has been sent to the Attorney General for an opinion, and both the Harris County GOP and Harris County Democratic Party are copied on these requests.

According to the Public Information Act, the Attorney General's office has 45 working days from the day after the request to respond. As of today, the office has not received an opinion on how to proceed with these particular public information requests.

Any suggestion that the Harris County Elections Administrator's Office lacks transparency is false."

As for what happens next, the county will have 21 days to file a response to the lawsuit.

There is some talk about whether the election should be redone in Republican circles.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick called for a new election, which only a court can order. And the evidence for it would have to be extraordinary.

For news updates, follow Charly Edsitty on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

READ MORE: Lt. Gov. Patrick calls for new election in Harris Co., alleging some voting places didn't have paper