Courts

"Mattress Mack" Files Lawsuit Over Unreleased Records from November 2022 Election

On Tuesday morning, Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale and his legal team, Wayne Dolcefino and Jeff Diamant, announced McIngvale's lawsuit filed against the Harris County Elections Administrator's Office.
On Tuesday morning, Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale and his legal team, Wayne Dolcefino and Jeff Diamant, announced McIngvale's lawsuit filed against the Harris County Elections Administrator's Office. Screenshot
Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale followed in the footsteps of several Harris County Republican candidates Tuesday, filing a lawsuit against the Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office over what he said was their failure to provide public records requested by McIngvale’s legal team concerning the 2022 November election.

The furniture mogul was joined by former journalist turned media consultant, Wayne Dolcefino, and trial and divorce lawyer, Jeff Diamant — who filed the petition on behalf of McIngvale – at a Tuesday morning press conference.

“We want to know from the Harris County election board whether this was incompetence, negligence, corruption or a combination of all three,” McIngvale said to those in attendance.

According to Dolcefino, McIngvale’s legal team filed several requests to both the Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office and the Harris County Judge’s Office — who Dolcefino said they were not suing — for maintenance records, records detailing efforts to respond to the ballot paper shortage, and emails and text messages sent and received by Election Administrator, Clifford Tatum.

The Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office did not provide the records to McIngvale’s team because Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Office said the records could be withheld due to on-going litigation between the Election Administrator’s Office and the Harris County GOP, as stated in the petition that was filed.

“The simple fact is legally the refusal to turn over these records by the Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office is unjustified under law,” Diamant said at the press conference. “So we’re seeking a court to order the production of those records, so we can determine exactly what did happen in the November 2022 elections to try to prevent that from happening and creating further disenfranchisement of voters in the 2024 election.”

McIngvale’s lawsuit is not the first to call to question the operations of the November 2022 elections; the Harris County GOP filed a similar lawsuit against the Harris County Election Administrator’s Office in November 2022. Following this lawsuit, several Republican candidates contested their races last month, claiming that a re-do of their elections was needed as operational issues led to some voters being unable to cast their ballots.

Alexandra Del Moral Mealer, former Republican challenger in the Harris County Judge race, was among the group of Republican candidates who filed to contest their elections. McIngvale launched himself as a de facto political figure during Mealer’s campaign — donating funds to the candidate and appearing alongside her in several endorsement commercials prior to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s successful bid for re-election.

Despite all the claims of the botched Harris County November 2022 election process from Republican officials — including last week’s call for re-doing the election by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick — none of the candidates have been successful in challenging their respective elections’ results.

As for McIngvale’s lawsuit, the Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office will have 21 days to respond to the lawsuit. After that point, additional discovery of information may result in some motions filed. The litigation process could take anywhere from 90 days to several months or longer, depending on the cooperation of the Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office, Diamant said.

After receiving notification of McIngvale’s lawsuit, The Harris County Elections Administrator’s Office issued this full statement in response to the lawsuit:

“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.”
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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.