From a political perspective, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has received nothing but good news of late, including his landslide victory last week in a primary runoff election. But from a legal perspective, the Republican’s troubles continue to multiply.
The Associated Press reported the other day on Paxton’s newest problem.
The State Bar of Texas sued Wednesday to punish state Attorney General Ken Paxton for his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud…. The state bar asked a Dallas-area court to impose unspecified discipline on the state’s top lawyer, alleging that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block President Joe Biden’s victory was “dishonest.”
Circling back to our earlier coverage, the controversy stems from Paxton’s December 2020 efforts, which included asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate election results he didn’t like.
In case anyone needs a refresher, after Donald Trump lost his re-election bid, Paxton sued four states that had the audacity to support the Democratic ticket — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — arguing that he disapproved of their pandemic-era election procedures. Paxton asked the high court to block those states from voting in the Electoral College.
Reuters’ Brad Heath explained at the time, Paxton was “literally asking the Supreme Court to throw out the results of other states’ presidential elections, set aside the millions of votes cast in states that are not Texas, and have other state legislatures make Trump president.”
It was an utterly bonkers gambit that failed. But since lawyers that pursue utterly bonkers gambits can face sanctions for professional misconduct, the Texas bar association moved forward with its own investigation into Paxton’s efforts, leading to the court case filed last week.
Under normal circumstances, this would be a rather significant problem for a sitting state attorney general, but what makes these circumstances extraordinary is the fact that this new investigation is part of a larger list.
As regular readers know, the Republican was already under indictment on felony securities fraud charges, for example, when members of his own team made multiple criminal allegations against him in October 2020.
A couple of months later, FBI agents arrived at Paxton’s door — as a rule, that’s not a good sign for any politician — and in the months that followed, the Texan faced unpleasant scrutiny from a Texas district attorney’s office. Now, evidently, the State Bar of Texas has joined the club.
Common sense might lead one to believe that there’s simply no way an incumbent facing such circumstances could run and win a re-election campaign. Indeed, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush — a member of a once-powerful family in the Lone Star State — saw the attorney general as vulnerable and launched a primary campaign.
He’ll still have to compete in a general election, of course, and Paxton’s re-election bid four years ago was fairly close. That said, Texas is still a red state; 2022 is likely to be a good year for GOP candidates; and by most measures, Paxton is favored to win a third term.