DALLAS - Texas Governor Greg Abbott addressed a rift between his office and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
The governor's office sent a stern letter to the judge over confusion about the federal overflow hospital set up in Downtown Dallas.
The judge responded on Monday, and President Donald Trump weighed in.
Dallas County commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on resources that would support the pop-up hospital at the convention center, like security, transportation and lab set up. Meanwhile, the county judge and governor are still not talking.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott’s office Monday, asking they communicate over the phone. The judge says he tried calling the governor’s chief of staff and never got a response.
“I checked and, according to my office, we've had zero inquiries or phone calls ever with the Dallas County judge regarding COVID-19,” Abbott said during a Monday press conference.
This dispute started over the weekend when the governor’s office got ahold of a voicemail from a military leader suggesting the judge did not plan to use the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, which the federal government has made ready as a pop-up hospital with 250 beds and military medical personnel staffing.
"We had a call with Judge Clay Jenkins,” the voicemail said. “His team…has no intentions of moving patients into the convention center, and the Department of Defense is confused."
The governor sent a letter warning the judge: confirm you’ll use the convention center or the federal government will move it.
The judge responded at a press conference Sunday.
"It’s a very odd letter,” Jenkins said. “It insinuates that we don’t want the federal resource, when actually we are working hours a day to stand up that resource."
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson also got in on the issue, saying he, too, shared the governor’s concerns.
Judge Jenkins says Dallas County will use the pop-up hospital. County commissioners vote to fund services for it Tuesday.
President Trump weighed in Monday when asked about whether Dallas could lose the facility.
"We're never going to do anything to hurt Texas. We're only going to help Texas,” Trump said. “And by the way, the governor over there is doing a great job."
A source in the mayor’s office says there’s tension among the mayor, Judge Jenkins and the governor, with the judge taking action without informing city and state leadership.
“He has attempted to communicate through social media,” Abbott said.
The judge has, instead, been tweeting. One of Jenkins’ recent tweet addressed to Abbott said: “Where are you on loading the SNAP and WIC benefits…? How bout my request to waive Texas licensure on out of state respiratory therapist?"
The governor also said in his press conference Monday that he has been communicating with leadership from many cities and counties that are affected by this virus, like Bexar County, Travis County, San Antonio and Houston and the mayor of Dallas.
Judge Jenkins did not make himself available to the media on Monday.