Texas Lt. Governor offers to pay $7,000 fine for salon owner amid escalating dispute with judge who jailed her

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick(Eric Gay/AP)

A Texas salon owner jailed for reopening her business amid the coronavirus pandemic has found her latest champion in Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who offered to foot her $7,000 fine as well as serve house arrest on her behalf.

Shelley Luther has been dubbed by some as an “American Hero” since she was sentenced by Judge Eric Moye on Tuesday for reopening Salon A la Mode despite a statewide stay at home order. He handed her a seven-day jail stay after she publicly tore up a cease-and-desist order and refused to apologize for her “selfish” actions during a global health crisis.

The Texas mother was also issued an additional $500 fine for every day she remained open before May 8, when Gov. Greg Abbott’s restrictions begin to lift for businesses like salons and barber shops.

“7 days in jail, no bail and a $7K fine is outrageous. No surprise Texans are responding," the Lieutenant Governor said in a tweet Wednesday night.

“I’m covering the 7K fine she had to pay and I volunteer to be under House Arrest so she can go to work and feed her kids.”

Despite Patrick’s generosity, it seems unlikely the salon owner is lacking cash. A GoFundMe page started in wake of her arrest has raised nearly $500,000, all to be donated to Luther, who “resisted tyranny” by flouting Abbott’s coronavirus guidelines, according to the page.

And Patrick is only the latest official to take sides in an escalating dispute with the judge who sentenced Luther.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a note to Moye demanded Luther’s release and slammed his decision as “outrageous.”

“The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther,” he wrote to the judge. “His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.”

Abbott in a statement issued Wednesday night echoed the sentiment.

“I join the Attorney General in disagreeing with the excessive action by the Dallas Judge, putting Shelley Luther in jail for seven days,” Abbott said. “As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option.”

Luther is just one of millions of Americans forced out of work after the spread of coronavirus prompted the government-mandated closures of non-essential businesses. When asked to apologize rather than be jailed, the salon owner dismissed allegations that her actions were selfish.

“I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say I’m selfish, because feeding my kids is not selfish,” Luther said during a hearing.

“I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So, sir if you think the law is more important than kids being fed, then go ahead with your decision, because I’m not going to shut down the salon.”

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