Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley last month asked Gov. Greg Abbott for more authority to fine people for not wearing a mask, FOX 4 reported. He also urged people to keep Thanksgiving gatherings small and safe, according to the station.
On Nov. 24, Judge Whitley extended Tarrant County’s mask mandate until at least Feb. 28, 2021. But on Thanksgiving Day, a photo was taken in front of his Hurst, Texas house showing five cars and an RV camper parked out front.
The photo appeared to have been taken by citizen Jodi Mueller and posted on Facebook.
Whitley told Fox News that the cars belonged to 12 of his immediate family members – seven adults and five kids – who were gathered at his home. He said there would have normally been 25 to 30 family members at his home for the holiday.
Whitley said he had rented the RV camper to use the next day to visit his wife’s 96-year-old mother in Wichita Falls. He said the family took separate cars and practiced social distancing when they arrived at her house.
Whitley insisted that other Tarrant County residents would not have been violating any rules for holding a similarly sized gathering.
“We wear masks as much as possible. But with immediate family, we’re very careful. We know where we’ve all been,” Whitley said. “I’ve always said that (with) your immediate family, you just have to use your best guess and do those things that you feel are necessary to protect your family.”
“I’m not going to tell you that there aren’t times in which the mask is not there. But you will find very very few pictures where I don’t have a mask on. And if you do then it may be, ‘okay, every once in a while I just forget. Because I hate these things as much as anybody else does.
He said that despite the way he’s been portrayed, regarding his stance on mask mandates, “I have not been near as conservative or mandate-happy as some would have liked for me to have been” and that the county’s public health department “would have shut everything down if they could.”
“Before the governor issued his order, you know, they would have liked for me to have people stay at home and shut businesses down. I said, ‘no we’re not going to do that.’”
“My focus has been, keep the hospitals open, keep the businesses open,” he said. “The hope was my (mandating) masks, that it would slow the growth of COVID-19 and would allow businesses to stay open and not have to shut back down.”
Another Texas county judge being accused of breaking coronavirus guidelines is Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. The judge, who in June, pushed for a countywide mask mandate, was photographed maskless at a wedding in early October, prompting outrage on social media.
Fox News reached out to Jenkin's office which provided two additional photos. His office claimed that the photos they provided show him wearing masks at the wedding.
"The ceremony took place when community spread was much lower and while the Dallas County COVID-19 risk was at 'Orange-Moderate Risk,' his office said in a statement, adding that he followed county safety protocols and "temporarily removed his facial covering while officiating and immediately placed it back on covering both his nose and mouth."