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Image: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton outside of the Supreme Court in 2019.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton outside of the Supreme Court in 2019.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images file

Texas AG Ken Paxton faces misconduct allegations (yes, again)

It seemed hard to imagine Ken Paxton’s troubles getting even worse, but a state bar investigation into alleged misconduct is advancing anyway.


Just when it seemed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s troubles couldn’t get much worse, his state’s bar association delivered some fresh bad news for the Republican. The Texas Tribune reported:

A Texas State Bar complaint is moving forward, accusing Attorney General Ken Paxton of professional misconduct when he sued to overturn 2020 presidential election results in four battleground states.... The state bar complaint called out Paxton for his lack of evidence of voting fraud in the four states whose election results he was challenging. Paxton must now decide in 20 days either to participate in a trial by jury in Travis County or an internal investigatory and evidentiary hearing by the state bar....

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 is moving forward with its own investigation into Paxton’s efforts.

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, Paxton was already under indictment on felony securities fraud charges when, in October 2020, members of his own team made multiple criminal allegations against him. 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 last year, a Texas district attorney’s office concluded that Paxton violated the state’s open records law by not turning over his communications stemming from his January 2021 visit to Washington, D.C., for a pro-Trump rally.

Given all of this, common sense might suggest that Paxton’s electoral career would be coming to an end as he focused on his legal defenses, but the opposite is true: The Texas attorney general was recently the top vote-getter in a GOP primary, and he’s generally seen as the favorite in his May 24 runoff against Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

Paxton, of course, has been endorsed by Donald Trump, whose tolerance for those accused of corruption is limitless.