DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz showed his support Friday for recently jailed stylist Shelley Luther by getting a haircut at her now controversial Salon à la Mode.
"We're thrilled to be with you and know the whole State of Texas is standing with you, so thank you for your courage," Cruz told Luther.
Cruz told Luther he hasn't had a haircut in about three months, and that his wife Heidi even warned he would "start bringing mullets back," if he didn't do something soon.
At one point during his visit, Luther started crying, thanking Cruz for his support, "When people reach out with true authenticity, it's huge," she said.
Luther told CBS 11 News, "It's a nice gesture. His family actually called my boyfriend and prayed for him for 20 minutes while I was in jail. To me that's not political... that's just really nice people reaching out and making sure that our family is okay."
Cruz joins other prominent conservatives who have rallied to Luther's defense, who was sentenced to seven days in jail for criminal and civil contempt and a $7,000 fine for defying orders to keep her business closed during the pandemic.
Luther has had a big week.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin dropped by the salon, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called her sentence "outrageous," while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, another Republican, offered to pay Luther's $7,000 fine or even serve out her sentence under house arrest.
"We don't know what to do with all of these celebrities coming in lately. I missed Mrs. Palin when I was held up for a little couple days," Luther told Cruz.
Even President Donald Trump acknowledged Luther, telling Abbott, "Good," when the governor told the president the Texas Supreme Court had ordered her release.
Prior to garnering the attention of top Washington officials, Luther already had a following, among them the Open Texas movement. Many say Luther's individual liberties were infringed.
Despite that, State District Judge Eric Moyé found Luther continued to operate her hair salon in violation of Abbott's order and in violation of a restraining order from the court.
Thus, Judge Moyé decided she should pay $3,500 plus $500 for every additional day the salon remained open until today.
Last week, Luther received a cease-and-desist letter from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins ordering her to close the salon — and she publicly ripped it up. Her actions thrust her further into the national spotlight.
Several of her supporters waited outside the courtroom and were visibly displeased by her arrest on Wednesday.
"If you would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that your own actions were selfish, putting your own interest ahead of those in the community in which you live," Judge Moyé told Luther in court, offering her a chance to avoid jail time. He said he would consider only giving her a fine, if she apologized, acknowledged she was wrong, and agreed to keep her business closed until Friday, when the governor has announced all salons may open.
"I have much respect for this court and laws. I have never been in this position before and it's not someplace that I want to be," Luther responded. "But I have to disagree with you sir, when you say that I'm selfish because feeding my kids — is not selfish. 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 getting fed, then please go ahead with you decision but I am not going to shut the salon."
"I'm proud to stand with Shelly Luther. What happened to her was wrong. It was ridiculous to see someone sentenced to seven days in jail for cutting hair. That's not right, that's not justice and that's not Texas," Cruz told reporters after his haircut.
He also commented on Judge Moyé's treatment of Luther in court.
"I watched the exchange in court, where the judge demanded that she apologize to the elected officials for daring to open up her business. I was disgusted by what I saw. In the United States, elected officials don't have the right to demand of citizens that they apologize for anything. That's not the way our system works."
While many supporters told CBS 11 News, Luther is a voice for small businesses, other small business owners question her agenda, and why the rules seemingly don't apply to her.
"I've lost hundreds of thousands of dollars with no caterings," local business owner David Snell said.
Snell owns catering company Cajun Crawfish Co. and an airplane tour business. He can't fly without regulations and his catering business is closed during the pandemic.
He saw Luther's actions and the governor's call to repeal jail as a penalty for her act of contempt as disrespectful.
"Let's all break the rules, if you break the rules there's some consequences. But that's the message it sends, why do we even have the rules," Snell said. "To say that we're going to break rules, be a filibuster and be some hero because of it — no. I will never do that. Many business owners I know will not do that."
Calling Luther an "American Hero," her supporters set up a GoFundMe page, which has received more than $500,000 in only a few days.
On Friday Luther said "I have a lot of attorney's fees, and some mortgage to catch up on, but we have decided to spread some of that gift -- today --in South Dallas. I've also reached out to the two ladies in Laredo, and I would like to pay for their attorney's fees and any citations they were given... and maybe give them a little bit of head start money."
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