Democrat Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX) was involved in an early morning bar fight in 2000 with Javier Garza, a municipal court judge, and Lonnie Flores, the then-mayor of Donna, Texas. Newly resurfaced newspaper reports and court documents from the early 2000s show Gonzalez allegedly made “demeaning statements” about the local police that allegedly started the brawl.
The incident resulted in charges against Flores, and litigation from Gonzalez against him. But the broader revelation here is that Gonzalez allegedly maligned police officers — the action Flores said led to the altercation — something which has once again become politically relevant given the national leftist Democrat push to defund police.
Gonzalez’s congressional office pushed back on initial questions about the incident when asked about it.
Breitbart News asked the congressman’s office if they would like to comment on the newly uncovered report. The Democrat congressman’s communications director, Jason Johnson, earlier this week told Breitbart News that “this is completely false.”
“The Congressman was never accused of any wrongdoing,” Johnson said in an email. “In fact, the police took action against the Mayor of Donna at the time, and he was charged for his actions.”
But Johnson’s comment did not specify exactly what he was saying was “false.” When Breitbart News asked him in follow-up emails to explain if he was saying the idea that the now-congressman engaged in violence was “false,” but the incident as a whole was not — and specifically about whether he said anything derogatory about police officers — Johnson asked to see the local news reports in question that detailed the matter. Johnson has not for several days after receiving those reports answered any more questions about the matter, and has not denied the original charges that his boss decades ago disparaged police officers.
In addition, for whatever it’s worth, Johnson did claim that Gonzalez does not support defunding police and said the Democrat congressman for whom he works does respect law enforcement. “The Congressman does not support defunding the police and has always respected law enforcement,” Johnson said.
But, interestingly enough, despite his office’s claims to the contrary, Gonzalez voted in March of this year to “defund the police.” Gonzalez voted to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, with House Democrats, on an almost party-line vote of 220-212. The Act was described by Republicans as a plan that would engage in “defunding the police.”
Furthermore, a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) nonpartisan analysis of the bill for which Gonzalez voted would cost more than 18,000 police departments around the country significant funds. “More than 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide would be affected by the bill’s requirements,” the CBO said in a letter to top congressional Republicans on the matter:
All would incur costs for training and for data collection, management, and reporting. Using information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement associations nationwide, CBO expects that more than 6,000 agencies would either need to upgrade or to invest in new technology to comply with the new reporting requirements.
The politics of defunding police departments — and even more broadly the issues of leftist socialist ideas taking over the Democrat Party — are at the core of a political shift seen in many places nationwide, including in Gonzalez’s district where Republicans have recently been gaining ground. The GOP has never won Gonzalez’s south Texas Rio Grand Valley district in the more than a century since its inception, but came within a few thousand votes in November with Hispanic conservative candidate Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez leading the charge. Just this weekend, Republicans won a key mayoral race in the district taking the McAllen, Texas, office — a sign of growing problems for Democrats there. The shift has drawn national attention from many, including former President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and even the New York Times.
That’s why a previously little-noticed bar fight between Gonzalez and the former Donna mayor Flores from decades ago — one Gonzalez seems to have been the victim in — could be a defining moment in this congressional race. These old news reports, viewed in the context of whether or not Gonzalez instigated the fight with Flores over making a disparaging remark against police — and, frankly, the congressman’s office mishandling the matter by initially broadly denying the old charge then going completely dark and not responding for days after being provided these news reports — could prove politically disastrous for a Democrat who is already reeling from external factors swarming his district.
Gonzalez, who was just a lawyer at the time of the incident, “came to blows in the early morning hours” per contemporary local news reports when he was involved in a 2 a.m. bar fight with the mayor in October 2000. At the time of the “scuffle,” Flores had said, the then-lawyer now-congressman was making “demeaning statements” about the Donna police department. Gonzalez tried to sue Flores for $200,000 after being in the fight, in addition to Flores facing, at the time, a misdemeanor assault charge where he would have faced a $4,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram from Fort Worth, Texas, on December 31, 2000, ran a headline that stated: “Donna mayor indicted on charges arising from scuffle.”
In the report, the Star-Telegram disclosed, Donna Mayor Lonnie Flores was indicted the week prior to the report due to him hitting a McAllen lawyer during an early morning bar scuffle.”
“If convicted of the misdemeanor assault,” of hitting the now-sitting U.S. Democrat congressman — who was allegedly saying demeaning statements about the local police, the Star-Telegram reported — the mayor at the time could have been “facing up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.” The incident also led to Gonzalez filing a $200,000 lawsuit against Flores where Gonzalez claimed: “Flores cut his lip and injured his neck during the fight.”
The report continued, adding: “the two came to blows in the early morning hours at a Donna sports pub.” Flores said at the time, “he’ll fight the charge in court,” which he did end up doing. He added, “I don’t agree with [the grand jury’s decision],” but he continued to say, “I will let the courts take their course.” This apparently happened from Gonzalez allegedly making “demeaning statements” about the police chief and the rest of the police department.
The Monitor from McAllen, Texas, in the “controversy” section, also sheds more light on the story. The Monitor was a little more forthcoming with the information, even using the word “accused,” in the headline: “Donna mayor accused of striking lawyer.”
(Travis M. Whitehead, “Donna mayor accused of striking lawyer,” The Monitor, 10/20/2000)
(Travis M. Whitehead, “Donna mayor accused of striking lawyer,” The Monitor, 10/20/2000)
The report shows that Flores denied hitting Gonzalez, but Gonzalez still wanted to press charges. Flores said he put his hand on the head of Gonzalez, but then both sat down, “and that was it.” Garza said he helped restrain the mayor, and added that he did not think there was any contact made between the two after he claimed: “blows were thrown, and he helped restrain the mayor.”
Gonzalez had also asked for the sheriff’s department to take over the investigation, perhaps because there was some truth to Gonzalez’s alleged “demeaning statements” made about Donna Police Chief Miguel Carreon and the rest of the police department. That way, it would not be the same people looking into what was said.
The Monitor report read:
Mayor Lonnie Flores, who was accused two months ago of headbutting a city commissioner, has been accused of assault after an alleged incident that occurred about 2 a.m. Thursday at a local bar. Although a report was filed with Donna police, the case may be turned over to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department for investigation. Police said the complaint was filed by Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen, who said he was at City Limits Sports Pub on Business 83 when Flores “struck him on the lip for no apparent reason,” said Donna Police Chief Miguel Carreon.
Flores said Gonzalez and Municipal Court Judge Javier Garza were making demeaning statements about Carreon and the police department. But Flores denied hitting Gonzalez. The discussion became heated and Gonzalez stood up in a threatening manner, Flores said. “I put my hand on his head. He sat down, then I sat down, and that was it,” he said. However, Garza said blows were thrown, and he helped restrain the mayor. “I don’t know if he made any contact,” Garza said.
Carreon said Gonzalez told him he intended to press charges against Flores and requested the sheriff’s department take over the investigation. The sheriff’s office said Thursday night that they has received no complaint to investigate and, if the incident happened, it was in the Donna Police Department’s jurisdiction.
In a report from the Monitor in December 2000, Gonzalez claimed Flores punched him in the face but did not say what Flores was talking about, just “different things.” Gonzalez filed a civil lawsuit for $200,000 in “punitive damages” and $2,500 for “actual damages for medical expenses.” Gonzalez said the reasoning he was asking for money was due to him allegedly having to see a physical therapist for an alleged neck injury. According to the report, Flores said the lawsuit was “frivolous and politically motivated.”
(Travis M. Whitehead, “Lawyer suing Donna mayor Lonnie Flores,” The Monitor, 12/29/2000)
The report from the Monitor added that Flores believed the lawsuit was a “futile attempt” to try and politically “discredit” Flores. “The fact of the matter is, we’ll be prepared to defend myself against this lawsuit in court,” Flores continued. Flores then said he believes Garza could have instigated the lawsuit to smear Flores.
Flores tried to put the blame on the judge by saying he should “appear before the City Council to give a report on how he is serving the people of Donna, by giving an account of money coming in to the municipal court,” noting that Garza “refuses to appear before the City Council, so he wants to discredit me politically.” Garza tried to refute the claims by saying he does not need to go to the meetings or see any need to attend because he submits his reports as they are needed. “As far as I am concerned, it has nothing to do with me,” Garza added.
Eventually, in May 2002, the assault charges on Flores were dismissed.
Additionally, in August 2001, Gonzalez’s lawsuit that he filed against Flores was ordered “nonsuit.” A Nonsuit is a “judgment given against a plaintiff in which the court dismisses a case because the plaintiff either was unable to make an adequate showing or is unwilling to continue with the case,” according to Cornell Law School. The school defines it further:
Nonsuit is a judgment given against a plaintiff in which the court dismisses a case because the plaintiff either was unable to make an adequate showing or is unwilling to continue with the case. A nonsuit may be voluntary or involuntary. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) contains the guidelines for motions for nonsuit, although the Federal Rules do not use the term. FRCP 41(a)(1)(A) provides circumstances in which the plaintiff may file motions to dismiss their case with or without a court order. Unless stated otherwise in the order, such orders are without prejudice. FRCP 41(b) provides circumstances in which a defendant may move for involuntary dismissal. Unless the order states otherwise or is a dismissal for specific causes such as lack of jurisdiction, such an order will operate as an adjudication on the merits.
The nonsuit draws more attention to Gonzalez’s claims. Flores said Gonzalez was making “demeaning statements” about the local police while Gonzalez stuck with saying he was “talking about different things.” But, the accessible reports do not show what the “different things” are, nor does Gonzalez elaborate on what the “different things” are. The reports concluded that his lawsuit was deemed a nonsuit, which means “the plaintiff either was unable to make an adequate showing or is unwilling to continue with the case.” Thus, more questions abound when Flores continued to claim in the reports that Gonzalez was making “demeaning statements” about police officers.
Recently, Breitbart News also broke the story of Gonzalez holding up to $250,000 with the Bank of China, a state-owned organ of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which showed in his 2017, 2018, and 2019 financial disclosure documents. The reports also indicated Gonzalez earned between $2,501 and $5,000 in interest each year from the Bank of China account. After the initial report by Breitbart News, Gonzalez closed the account. Combine all these revelations — the bar fight and the Chinese bank account — with the shift in places like the 85-percent Hispanic McAllen, Texas, toward Republicans, and Gonzalez may have real problems on his hands.
“Vicente Gonzalez should be having nightmares about how doomed his reelection hopes are,” said Torunn Sinclair, a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokeswoman. “Texas voters want nothing to do with Democrats’ socialist agenda that has created a crisis along the southern border, wants to raise taxes on middle-class workers and plans to defund the police.”
The NRCC’s released statement continued, “McAllen is also in the heart of vulnerable Democrat Vicente Gonzalez’s district, who is a top NRCC target after barely winning reelection last cycle.”
Efforts to reach Flores, the then-Donna mayor, were unsuccessful.