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A GOP state lawmaker who fled Texas on a private jet said he did so for his family after his house flooded and the power went out

Published by Business Insider on Sun, 21 Feb 2021

<p><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/603171af623bd30012bcc68a-2000/AP20017658764015.jpg" border="0" alt="Gary Gates" data-mce-source="AP Photo/ John L. Mone" data-mce-caption="FILE: Texas state Rep. Gary Gates speaks with an Associated Press reporter in January 2020."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>A Texas state representative sparked a backlash locally after he and his family took a private jet from Texas to Orlando, Florida, amid winter weather that devastated much of Texas and caused the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-declares-texas-a-major-disaster-millions-without-water-2021-2">US government to declare a major disaster in the state.</a></p><p>State Rep. Gary Gates, a Republican who represents District 28 in the Texas House of Representatives, told <a href="https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2021/02/20/texas-lawmaker-explains-why-he-headed-to-florida-during-winter-weather-crisis">Click2Houston</a> he left Texas when he lost power to his home and a pipe burst, causing flooding to "30%" of his home.</p><p>"Because of my wife's illness that she's had for a couple of weeks and my handicapped daughter with her area of the house being flooded, I was just trying to find some easier accommodations for them and I was trying to find a place where I could continue to work and do the things I needed to do," Gates said, according to the outlet.</p><p>Gates told Click2Houston he felt he was more "productive" in Florida than he would have been if he remained in Texas.</p><p>Gates left Wednesday morning and returned Friday, spending two nights in Orlando, according to the report. Mold started growing in his Texas home, he told the <a href="https://www.houstonchronicle.com/neighborhood/sugarland/news/article/State-Rep-Gary-Gates-facing-backlash-after-15963326.php">Houston Chronicle</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>Although <a href="https://twitter.com/StefanJModrich/status/1362877051196350466">prior reporting from Fort Bend Star journalist Stefan Modrich</a> had suggested Gates had traveled to Florida for a pre-planned business trip, Gates said a meeting he had while in Florida had not been scheduled in advance.</p><p>He said the person who had provided the statement to Modrich wasn't his chief of staff, as was previously reported, according to the Houston Chronicle.</p><p>Millions across the state were <a href="https://www.insider.com/texans-running-out-of-food-amid-power-outages-winter-storm-2021-2">left without electricity for hours to days</a> as the winter weather posed a massive threat to Texas' power grid, pushing power companies to opt for rolling blackouts to prevent uncontrolled outages. Most power has been restored throughout the state, though <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/texas-drinking-water-power-grid/">millions in the state remain without clean drinking water</a>.</p><p>Gates drew criticism and comparisons to&nbsp; <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/ted-cruz-defends-mexico-trip-good-dad-winter-storm-2021-2">Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also a Republican, who drew extreme backlash when he, his wife, and his daughters left Texas for a resort in Cancun, Mexico</a> to escape the winter storm and its effects. Cruz later said <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/ted-cruz-apologizes-for-cancun-trip-amid-texas-winter-storms-2021-2">his decision to travel was a "mistake."&nbsp;</a></p><p>"It really would have been nice to have a state representative helping on the ground, working at a warming center, packing food, etc. rather than immediately (flying) off on a private plane when the going got tough," Brian Walz, one of Gates' constituents told The Houston Chronicle. "My neighbors didn't get to do that when her pipe burst."</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/texas-lawmaker-compared-to-cruz-for-fleeing-state-on-jet-2021-2#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/economist-weighted-voting-could-help-save-us-democracy-2018-5">A top economist explains how weighted voting could change democracy</a></p>
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