As Judge Clay Jenkins gears up to take legal action against Governor Greg Abbott over a mask mandate, the Dallas County Judge is requesting that the legal bills be paid with COVID-19 funds.

Since 2021, there have been court battles over local mask mandates throughout Texas. Now the governor is facing a lawsuit from Judge Jenkins, who wants to use Dallas County’s COVID-19 response fund for the ongoing legal fees.

To this date, the response fund has fundraised donations for first responders, personal protection equipment, and food for the North Texas Food Bank. Launched in March 2020, the pandemic fund is run by the Communities Foundation of Texas, an organization that collects donations from donors and nonprofits.

The foundation’s website says that donations will go “directly to the front lines of the fight in Dallas County as directed by its executive, Judge Clay Jenkins.”

County commissioners could be voting on whether to accept a $263,150 donation from the fundraiser. This idea originated from the office of Clay Jenkins, who is pushing for the fund’s money to go toward the upcoming court battle over his mask mandate.

On April 4, Jenkins said that the fund’s use approval is purposely broad.

Jenkins is claiming that the Communities Foundation of Texas has approved the fund to pay for legal bills, and large donors were told about the change before the payment was made. Now it is up to the county’s officials to decide whether this action is appropriate.

“The purpose of the fund is to provide funding for the Dallas County needs for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jenkins. “This clearly does that. When you give to a charity, you give up the right to micromanage how the money could be spent.”

Now, the lawsuit is pending with the Texas Supreme Court.

“There’s no moral reason for using charitable donations for Judge Jenkins’ personal lawsuit against the governor,” said Commissioner J.J. Koch, who sued Jenkins over a commissioner’s court meeting in August. “This is his deal, and he has to handle it from his campaign funds or his own pocket.”

Due to the nature of the case, both Koch and Jenkins must recuse themselves from closed discussions about the court’s decision. Meanwhile, the court will determine if the proposed use of this COVID-19 fund would provide a “benefit to the public.”