Republican lawmakers sue Gov. Greg Abbott over state’s $295 million contact tracing contract

Gov. Greg Abbott updates PPE in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, delivers remarks on Aug. 4, 2020 at the largest Texas Division of Emergency Management warehouse, located in San Antonio, where personal protective equipment is taken in and distributed to Texas communities. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Five Texas Republican lawmakers have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott over the state’s $295 million contact tracing contract with Frisco-based firm MTX Group, Inc.

The lawsuit, filed with Travis County District Court Monday, claims Abbott violated competitive bidding laws and separation of power by awarding the contract to MTX Group, Inc.

Republican State Reps. Kyle Biedermann, Mike Lang, Steve Toth and Bill Zedler, as well as state Sen. Bob Hall are listed as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit which, in addition to Abbott and MTX Group, Inc., names Phil Wilson, acting executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services.

The lawsuit claims Abbott exceeded the additional power he was granted during the COVID-19 disaster declaration.

“The first reason to invalidate the contract is that DSHS materially failed to follow competitive bidding rules in awarding the Texas-MTX contract,” the lawsuit states. “The second reason to invalidate the contract is that the Texas Constitution requires a separation of powers, and that separation leaves policy-making decisions with the Texas legislature.”

Contact tracing is the process of tracking down individuals for isolation and testing who may have come in contact with someone infected by COVID-19.

The Texas Democratic Party issued a statement calling the contract a “sweetheart” deal between Abbott and MTX Group, Inc.

“Choosing an unqualified COVID-19 contact tracing company on the same day that two Republican megadonors were hired by the company makes the corruption clear as day,” said Abhi Rahman, director of communications for the Texas Democratic Party.

The lawsuit seeks damages of $100,000 or less and “non-monetary relief and all other relief to which they may show themselves entitled.”

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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