If you’re seeking public office in Texas, you probably shouldn’t mess with Shatner.
In a campaign newsletter, a candidate running for the Texas House of Representatives included an autographed picture of herself with William Shatner, the iconic actor who played Captain Kirk on the original Stark Trek television series from the 1960s.
In the email brochure, which perhaps was an attempt to make herself more relatable to voters, Democrat Brandy Chambers wrote that she was “geeked out” by the chance to briefly pose with Shatner at a Comic-Con event some years ago.
In its initial version with Captain Kirk in command, Star Trek ran for just three seasons on the NBC television network but subsequently generated five spin-off series and an ongoing movie franchise.
Ex-athletes and popular former TV stars have developed a nice side income by selling their autographs and pictures to nostalgia buffs and memorabilia collectors at fan fests.
Shatner is very active on Twitter, with 2.5 million followers on the social media platform. After one of them asked Shatner if he was endorsing Chambers, “the 86-year-old actor…did not set his phasers to stun,” Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA quipped.
Shatner took to Twitter to tell Chambers via her personal account in no uncertain terms that a convention picture should ever be construed as a political ad or an implied endorsement and that she should take down the image immediately.
He also tweeted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton about the legal ramifications, if any, of the dispute.
Chambers, who is an attorney, subsequently issued a tweet from her campaign account apologizing for using image that she purchased at the event, reaffirming that Shatner is not in any way endorsing her candidacy for Texas House District 112 in the Garland area, which is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Chambers hopes to unseat incumbent Republican Angie Chen in the upcoming election.
In a deleted tweet, however, Shatner — who is a Canadian citizen — claims that Chambers accused him of not standing up for women’s rights and education, which Chambers says is the product of frustration after receiving hundreds of nasty online messages from Shatner fans.
“I never thought I’d get into a Twitter battle with William Shatner,” she admitted, noting that it was never her intent to imply an endorsement.
William Shatner emailed WFAA with his reaction to the now-resolved and possibly other-worldly feud.
“It was unfortunate she tried to shame me instead of just complying with my wishes that she not include my image in her political advertisements. I just fired back with the same vitriol she showed. I am happy to learn she has deleted my image from her website, and it appears that the matter is at an end.”
PUBLIC NOTICE: I used a photo that I paid for w/@WilliamShatner at a Comic-con in my newsletter talking about going to Comic-Cons. @WilliamShatner has NOT and WILL NOT endorse me. I apologize to him for the use of the image that I purchased. @winemind17— Brandy K. Chambers (@BrandyforTexas) February 17, 2018
A Texas government official explained to the Dallas Morning News that state election law is silent insofar as using a celebrity’s image in campaign advertising is concerned. A Texas intellectual property lawyer told the news organization that the best practice is to obtain the celebrity’s permission first before using an image.
According to the Daily Caller, Brandy Chambers in another Twitter thread forcefully denied any form of misrepresentation in her use of the William Shatner photo.
@KenPaxtonTX does the @TXAG look into political brochures that use a person’s image as implied endorsements without permission? This person took a convention photo with me & is now using it in her campaign ads as if I know her & endorsing her. I never gave permission for its use. pic.twitter.com/j4nivxjIeI— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 17, 2018
Please don’t play stupid. It’s beneath you and an insult to your possible future constituents. I want the photo removed immediately and to attempt to shame me: https://t.co/u3xvRlkwEJ is really low. Are you going to remove my image? https://t.co/qxcXCa4lCm— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 17, 2018
. @clairezcardona Thank you for reporting on the issue & doing due diligence to get to to crux of it. It appears that one of the key tweets Ms. Chambers made has been deleted. I wanted to share it with you to show what prompted what otherwise would have been a polite request. pic.twitter.com/AutaWfnRoq— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) February 21, 2018
Considering himself apolitical, William Shatner from time to time has separately sparred with the social justice cohort on Twitter.
Watch Texas political candidate Brandy Chambers discuss her Twitter feud with William Shatner in the clip below and draw your own conclusions.