Intriguing new details reported by The Dallas Morning News show that Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate and liberal hero Wendy Davis has consistently twisted the truth about her own life story.
Davis, a state senator, became famous nationwide after she blocked a bill seeking to place limitations on abortion with an 11-hour filibuster featuring her tale of perseverance and against-all-odds grit.
According to the Davis legend – as exemplified by Davis in her campaign video “A Texas Story” – the state senator was married, had a child, and divorced all by the time she was 19.
She lived in a trailer and worked to raise her daughter and make her way through college, eventually landing in the hallowed halls of Harvard. From there, Davis – born Wendy Russell – became an attorney, a Fort Worth city councilwoman, and a state senator known for confronting the “old-boys network” of Texas state politics.
But Davis had a bit more help than she lets on in filibusters and stump speeches, and some of the details of her life as a young single mother are murky.
Davis admitted to being less than precise about the details of her life story in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.
“My language should be tighter,” she told the Morning News’ Wayne Slater, while acknowledging that the timeline and details of her life story have had errors. “I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.”
If the details of the Dallas Morning News report are accurate, Davis’s errors range from timeline inconsistencies to contextual omissions.
Davis actually divorced her first husband, Frank Underwood, at the age of 21, not 19, according to The Dallas Morning News. She also only lived in a trailer for a few months before moving in with her mother and then into an apartment of her own.
At some point, Davis began attending community college. After that, while Davis was working as a waitress at a theater owned by her father, she met and began dating Jeff Davis, a lawyer and former Fort Worth city councilman 13 years her senior.
It was the benefits arising from that marriage that Davis has glossed over during her autobiographical tellings.
Wendy Davis’s studies at Texas Christian University were initially financed through funds from a scholarship and Pell grants, according to The Dallas Morning News. But Jeff Davis paid for the final two years of her education at the school.
The couple married and Wendy Davis was accepted into Harvard Law School. To pay for his wife’s education, Jeff Davis dipped into his 401(k) and took out a loan, the Morning News reported.
Jeff Davis told The Dallas Morning News that his wife, by then a Fort Worth city councilwoman, filed for divorce the day after he made the final payment on her Harvard school loans.
“It was ironic,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “I made the last payment, and it was the next day she left.”
The Morning News article also paints a less than flattering portrait of Davis’s role as wife and mother, something of large concern in the conservative state. Upon divorcing Jeff Davis, Wendy Davis relinquished custody of the couple’s daughter, while agreeing to pay $1,200 a month in child support, The Morning News reported.
And when Jeff Davis filed for divorce, he cited adultery on Wendy Davis’s part, as well as irreconcilable differences, according to The Dallas Morning News article. However, the final court ruling made no mention of infidelity.
Davis’s quick rise to the national stage was sparked by the filibuster last June. Progressives rallied behind Davis, especially after Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst attempted to shut down the filibuster by arguing that Davis had moved off topic. That sparked chants of “Let Her Speak” from Davis supporters.
The filibuster and Davis’s personal story have attracted a surprising amount of donations. Davis outraised Republican frontrunner, attorney general Greg Abbott, during the last half of 2013. She raised $12.2 million in that time, compared to Abbot’s $11.5 million.