Like many small businesses across Texas, Shelley Luther hasn’t been able to operate her far north Dallas salon, Salon A La Mode, since March 19, when “safer at home” orders forced all non-essential businesses in Texas to shut their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Luther employs 19 licensed stylists who also were forced to stop working two rent payments ago.
This story will be updated as we receive more information.
Meet Shelley Luther – Dallas Salon Owner Who Reopened Her Texas Business During A Global Pandemic
Before the coronavirus pandemic, a quick review of Luther’s social media profiles shows that she was not involved politically. You wouldn’t know that if you met this North Texas resident today as she’s been in the news spotlight for reopening her Far North Dallas salon before she was given permission.
Luther has become a national political flash point, a trigger for businesses that have been shut down for weeks with no revenue while still having to pay their bills, and being forced to lay off or furlough workers.
Now the Dallas salon owner, makeup artist, musician, exotic animal owner, pet rescuer, and mother has come to symbolize the debate over when and how to reopen their businesses safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
Luther says she’s doing it because she has to put food on the table to feed her kids and pay her bills.
Luther’s boyfriend, Tim Georgeff, acknowledged in an interview with the Dallas Morning News that the family of four was far from starving before the economic shutdown.
“We went from making a lot of money to making nothing,” he said. “We both divorced last year. She had to buy a new home. We didn’t walk away from our divorces with a lot of money. We’re not a family that was established.”
Georgeff and Luther first met while playing in the same band where she was the lead singer. They’ve been dating for a year, now perform in a band as a duo called Crush, and they now live in Pilot Point together in a home Luther bought last year, according to public records, with a menagerie of both domestic and exotic animals.
Luther’s property is estimated to be worth around a half a million dollars.
They enjoyed an expensive cruise together while on spring break in March right as the economic shutdown was taking place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Georgeff and Luther are performers with their duo Crush and we’re told this was a paid business trip.
Luther has two grown daughters who are, according to the Dallas Morning News, a 17-year-old daughter, who lives with Luther and Georgeff, and an older adult daughter, Rachael Porterfield, who does not live with the couple. Georgeff has a 10-year-old son that lives with them.
Luther enjoys rescuing animals, and before getting thrown in the slammer by Dallas district court Judge Eric Moyes for reopening her Dallas salon without permission she was nursing six horses, three micro horses, and two miniature donkeys. She plans on selling them to good homes.
Luther’s other animals, according to social media posts by Georgeff, include six dogs, a bengal cat, lemurs, eleven goats, three ducks, and a wallaby named Scooby Roo. She often takes videos of them which she posts to social media. Website listings show Luther soliciting to purchase exotic animals as recently as November 2019 when she was looking to buy a wallaby on an exotic animals website. A wallaby is a marsupial that closely resembles a kangaroo.
The website also lists tamarins, wolfdogs, wolf hybrids, coyote pups, kangaroos, lemurs, African serval kittens, camels, anteaters, two-toed sloths, rhesus monkeys, a white tiger cub, and many more exotic animals, as well as threatened and endangered species for sale.
Shelley Luther Is Being Called A Patriot Fighting Against Tyrannical Overreach In Texas
A GoFundMe page has raised over $500,000 as of Thursday morning. The organizer, Houston-area resident Rick Hire, said he is giving all the money to Luther and that she can spend it as she sees fit. Hire describes himself as a “lowly, humbled, computer repair guy that has been wiped out financially by the lock down.”
“God plucked me up and said *I have work for you* and I did what he said,” his post to a popular Open Texas Facebook group reads. “The government took away my livelihood, so I am dedicating my time to fighting tyranny now, and in the future. That is the new me. I will not stop, ever. I will plan for coming hoaxes and tyrannical overreaches.”
On April 28, Luther opened her salon in defiance of Governor Greg Abbott’s order that salons and other cosmetology businesses were to remain closed. This caused Abbott’s arch nemesis in Dallas County, Judge Clay Jenkins, to serve Luther with a cease-and-desist order…which Luther promptly tore up in front of a large, cheering Open Texas crowd in Frisco, Texas last week.
This prompted an in-person court hearing with state district Judge Eric Moye who sentenced her to a week in jail and a $7,000 fine for refusing to close her salon or apologize for her actions.
The judge ruled Luther continued to operate her Dallas hair salon in violation of the governor’s order and in violation of a restraining order from the court.
The judge did tell Luther that he would consider not giving her jail time, if she admitted that she was wrong, that she was selfish, and if she would apologize to the elected officials whose orders she violated.
Luther responded to the judge that feeding kids isn’t selfish and that she won’t be closing her salon.
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick got involved in the fight against “tyrannical overreaches” by offering to pay Luther’s $7,000 court fine…and be placed under house arrest for a week “so she can go to work and feed her kids.”
The fundraising effort on GoFundMe and Open Texas protest groups has attracted alt-right leaning followers and conspiracy theorists from across the globe. It appears Lt. Governor Dan Patrick made due on his promise to pay her $7,000 fine though. Another donor identifying themselves only by the QAnon handle “WWG1WGA Q” (where we go one, we go all) donated $1,100 to Luther’s cause. QAnon is associated with alt-right deep state conspiracy theories.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton also released statements Wednesday morning calling for the immediate release of Luther from jail.
“I find it outrageous and out of touch during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actualy released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family’s table,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther. His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.”
The jail Luther is in has a COVID-19 outbreak. Dallas County has most jail inmates testing positive for the illness caused by coronavirus.
It should be noted that Attorney General Ken Paxton faces two counts of securities fraud related to efforts to solicit investors without revealing that he was getting paid for the work. The first-degree felonies each carry a maximum of 99 years in prison.
Paxton also was charged with failing to register with state securities regulators while conducting other investment businesses, a third-degree felony with a maximum 10-year sentence. He is still trying to get the case moved to Collin County, according to the Statesman. Rallying behind Shelley Luther, who has immense support in Collin County where she tore up the cease-and-desist order from Dallas County, could be seen as a motivator.
In 2017, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s pastor sued the lead witnesses against him in his upcoming criminal trials. Executive Pastor Mike Buster of Prestonwood Baptist Church filed a lawsuit against Representative Byron Cook and a Florida businessman, Joel Hochboerg, the same two men named on Paxton’s fraud indictments. Paxton attends Prestonwood Baptist Church‘s main campus in Plano.
Buster’s lawyer, J. Mitchell Little, filed the suit in Collin County. Little is one of the lawyers defending Paxton against the criminal allegations by Cook and Hochberg.
Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez, who represents District 6, posted on Facebook Wednesday evening his response to the matter admonishing Attorney General Ken Paxton’s involvement in the Luther case.
“Our indicted Texas Attorney General violated the ex parte communication of the Texas Code of Judicial conduct by communicating directly with the court without consideration to the other litigants,” Narvaez said. “Where is the indicted Attorney Generals letter to release black and brown minor offenders that were/are sitting in jail now? All I know is that ‘those people’ (which includes me) are always told to fall in line because ‘we are a nation of laws’. We are told to stand up straighter and not rock the boat. Everyone watches us with a microscope for when we make a sudden move. Black men are literally slain on running trails or arrested trying to get into their own homes. Black and brown trans women are murdered at the highest rate of any other demographic.”
“What makes this one woman different? She has child support, a very nice home, nice cars, beautiful furniture and was the recipient of a fully funded small business loan through the [CARES] ACT,” he said. “Her difference is her privilege of being a well to do ultra conservative white woman.”
“There are literally two Hispanic women sitting in Laredo jails for doing nearly the same thing except it was from inside their homes. Where’s the indicted Attorney General’s outrage and letter for them to be released? I’m sure they just wanted to feed their children, too.”
The two jailed Hispanic women Narvaez is referring to are Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata who were arrested in Laredo after selling makeup from their home to an undercover police officer. The women were locked up April 15 and posted bail shortly thereafter. Bond was set at $500 each. They each also face up to $1,000 fines.
Narvaez also noted that 12 Dallas district court judges, including Moye, had sent a letter back to Paxton, letting him know that his attempt to interfere in the matter was not only inappropriate and unethical, but also unwelcome.
The joint letter by the 12 Dallas district court judges to Paxton reads, “At the outset, we, the twelve Texas Civil District Judges sitting Dallas County are troubled by what appears to be an ex parte communication about a pending case, directed to the Court without consideration of the other litigants. As a current Member of the Bar, you certainly should be aware of the impropriety of this contact, as prohibited by Canon 3(b)(8) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.
“ … A Judge shall not initiate, permit or consider ex parte communications or other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties …”
In this context, for you to “Urge” a Judge towards a particular substantive outcome in this matter is most inappropriate and unwelcome. Please do not communicate with the Court in this manner further.”
Collin County Judge Chris Hill has a well-known history for his disdain of the statewide economic shutdown. His biggest beef is over what is considered an essential business under Governor Abbott’s safer at home order, claiming that “all businesses” are essential to the financial well-being of Collin County. This prompted a clarification to the State order which forced Hill to rescind his executive order for Collin County in order to become compliant.
Governor Abbott joined in with Texas’ Attorney General, saying, “I join the Attorney General in disagreeing with the excessive action by the Dallas judge, putting Shelley Luther in jail for seven days,” the statement reads. “As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option. Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother.”
Thursday morning Abbott made an announcement that he is eliminating jail time for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, and superseding local orders.
“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” said Governor Abbott. “That is why I am modifying my executive orders to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order. This order is retroactive to April 2nd, supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther. It may also ensure that other Texans like Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata who were arrested in Laredo, should not be subject to confinement. As some county judges advocate for releasing hardened criminals from jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is absurd to have these business owners take their place.”
The Supreme Court of Texas ordered Luther’s release from jail Thursday morning. She’s been in isolation and protective custody at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in Dallas. She was released early Thursday afternoon to a crowd of Open Texas supporters.
Just moments before Dallas Judge Moye ordered Shelley Luther to jail, Governor Abbott announced that salons could reopen with certain stipulations starting Friday, May 8. It is widely known that Luther has been in communication with Abbott’s office.
A Facebook post dated May 4 says, “My morning text to Governor Abbott’s office,” with the following phone screenshot showing a text Luther claims was sent by her to Governor Abbott’s office that reads, “Good morning. So….we are now at a point that you can get a lap dance in a strip club, but not a get a haircut. Any updates?”
Another post by Luther on Facebook dated April 27 reads, “Governor Abbott just reached out to me to help get salons open sooner.”
Meanwhile, Luther’s salon has been inundated with calls from both supporters and haters alike. Supporters are calling Luther a patriot who took a stand against unconstitutional orders. Those disapproving her decision to reopen have called Luther an attention-seeking rebel who is dangerously putting others at risk of death from COVID-19.
Other stylists say Luther reopening early is unfair to them. One user on Twitter going by C Jones replied to Lt. Governor Patrick’s tweet to rescue Luther by saying, “This is truly unfair to the rest of the Salons in Texas that wanted to open but couldn’t because they where following the law in place. You set the law and that’s what we are supposed to go by.”
Supporters for Luther have another message, “Maybe this is a lesson learned for all same governors everywhere. Don’t lock your state down and force people to make a choice!” replied a Twitter user going by staceylin1016.
Another supporter is comparing Luther to Rosa Parks, the civil rights leader saying, “Shelley Luther is the Rosa Parks of the Pandemic Quarantine! Felons are being let out of jail and some power-crazed TX judge jails a salon owner (in a jail where COVID19) is present, for trying to feed her children!”
It’s been well-publicized that the lieutenant governor of Texas argued in an interview on Fox News in March that the United States should go back to work, saying grandparents like him don’t want to sacrifice the country’s economy during the coronavirus crisis.
“No one reached out to me and said, ‘as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick said. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”
“And that doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that,” he continued. “I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me… that what we care about and what we love more than anything are those children.”
Health experts have made it crystal clear the coronavirus poses a particular danger for older patients – 60 years old and older – who face the highest risk of serious illness or death from the rapid spread of COVID-19.
In the past 7 weeks, over 74,000 people in the United States has died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The death toll in the United States is expected to reach over 130,000 by the end of August 2020. So far 1.26 million people in the U.S. have tested positive with 171,000 people so far recovered.
To put this into perspective, the flu killed 24,000-62,000 people in the United States during a 27 week period from October 1, 2019 to April 4, 2020 according to the CDC. The flu infected 39 million to 56 million (about half of which sought medical care from a physician) during this same time period. There were 410,000 to 740,000 hospitalizations.
Meet Shelley Luther, The Dallas Salon Owner Who Reopened Her Business In Texas During A Global Pandemic
Meet Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who reopened her business despite an order from a judge telling her not to open-and who subsequently went to jail for it. Here’s the straight dope.
More on Metroplex Social:
- RELATED: Arrested Dallas Salon Owner’s GoFundMe Launched Before She Reopened
- Abbott, Paxton, Patrick Calling For The Release of Shelley Luther From Jail
- You Can Now Get Your Hair Cut Again In Texas
- Restaurants, Retail, Movie Theaters, Malls, and More REOPENED May 1
- List of Dallas Restaurants OPEN for DINE-IN May 1
- Governor Abbott Hinted At Keeping Alcohol-To-Go In Texas Forever
- Dallas Hotel Group Will Be Returning Those MILLIONS In PPP Small Business Loans After All
- Entire List of Companies Returning PPP Loans By May 7
- Entire List of Public Companies That Got The BIGGEST PPP Small Business Loans
- Even Elite Private Schools With Huge Endowments Got PPP Loans Meant For Small Businesses
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