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

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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
FILE: Texas state Rep. Gary Gates speaks with an Associated Press reporter in January 2020.AP Photo/ John L. Mone
  • A Texas state lawmaker explained why he fled Texas on a private jet to Orlando this week.
  • State Rep. Gary Gates said he left after he lost power and "30%" of his home flooded.
  • Gates drew comparisons to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who faced immense criticism for traveling to Mexico.

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 US government to declare a major disaster in the state.

State Rep. Gary Gates, a Republican who represents District 28 in the Texas House of Representatives, told Click2Houston he left Texas when he lost power to his home and a pipe burst, causing flooding to "30%" of his home.

"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.

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Gates told Click2Houston he felt he was more "productive" in Florida than he would have been if he remained in Texas.

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 Houston Chronicle.

Although prior reporting from Fort Bend Star journalist Stefan Modrich 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.

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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.

Millions across the state were left without electricity for hours to days 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 millions in the state remain without clean drinking water.

Gates drew criticism and comparisons to 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 to escape the winter storm and its effects. Cruz later said his decision to travel was a "mistake."

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"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."

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