A conservative power broker told Texas' governor to have National Guard troops "shoot to kill" amid protests last month against racial injustice and police brutality, the AP reports. The Texas Tribune reports that Steve Hotze left that message in a voicemail (hear it here, with warning for language) to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s chief of staff on the weekend of June 6. "I want you to give a message to the governor," Hotze told the chief of staff, Luis Saenz. "I want to make sure that he has National Guard down here and they have the order to shoot to kill if any of these [expletive] people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses—shoot to kill the [expletives]. That's the only way you restore order. Kill 'em. Thank you."
Hours after the Tribune's story broke, Hotze defended his message on Facebook: "It's not about race but has everything to do with the future of America—the freest and most progressive country in the world," he wrote. "It's about those who burn homes and businesses, including those owned by African-Americans, and attack law enforcement. Enough is enough." Yet Hotze's voicemail earned a scolding rebuke from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who called it "absolutely disgusting and reprehensible." And it's unlikely to allay critics of Hotze's opposition to gubernatorial emergency orders, like the state's recent mask mandate. Hotze sued the state Friday, saying "this draconian order is contrary to the Texas spirit and invades the liberties" of the people.