July 1, 2022



Texas AG defends using thousands of taxpayer dollars to mount his own legal defense

2 min read

Texas taxpayers will collectively cover at least $45,000 for Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal defense against complaints to the State Bar over requests he made to the Supreme Court seeking the overturning of 2020 presidential election results in favor of former President Donald Trump. 

Taylor Goldenstein of the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday that Paxton faces at least three misconduct complaints over his December suit, which was dismissed by the nation’s highest court over lack of jurisdiction within days of it being filed. Two of the complaints allege that the litigation, in which Paxton attempted to dispute ballots cast in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, was “frivolous.”

Paxton’s individual law license could be at stake. However, under the state constitution, bar membership isn’t required to hold office.

“This is about individual license, which is irrelevant to his position in office, so why shouldn’t he pay for it?” Jim Harrington, one of the lawyers lodging the complaint against Paxton, told the Chronicle. “He gets to do this game on Jan. 6, this unconstitutional Supreme Court action, and then turn around and have us pay twice for it? It’s outrageous.”

Records obtained by the Chronicle show Paxton has billed more than 94 hours to two outside law firms as part of his defense. One attorney is Chris Gober, a prominent Republican election lawyer who charged the state of Texas rates of $525 per hour. In a statement to the Chronicle, Paxton said he was entitled to state funds because he was defending actions he took as attorney general.

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“Everyone — including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick — knows that this witch hunt is a sham,” Paxton said in the statement. “So I’m fighting back. And I’m authorized to do so by law: The acts that the bar and the liberal complainers are crying about were done in my official capacity as Texas Attorney General, and I may use state resources to defend my and my team’s state actions. Period.” 

Paxton and other Republican allies have backed former President Donald Trump’s false claims alleging President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was stolen. The second-term attorney general faces Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush (R-TX) in a May primary runoff. If Paxton wins, he will face the victor of a Democratic runoff between civil rights attorney Rochelle Garza and former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski. 

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