Scandal-plagued Republican Ken Paxton says challenger George P. Bush doesn't have the 'legal skills' to be attorney general.
Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of Texas, is under indictment for insider trading and is being investigated for political corruption. Still, he said Tuesday, he is fully planning to run for reelection next year.
After Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced he is "seriously considering" a 2022 primary challenge to Paxton, the embattled incumbent confirmed on Tuesday that he is running for another term.
Paxton mocked Bush, the grandson of George H.W. Bush and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on a Dallas radio show for running because he "hates being land commissioner" and sees the attorney general job as a stepping stone to running for president.
Paxton questioned whether Bush is qualified for the position of attorney general, saying, "He hasn't even proved himself in [his current job], let alone a job like this, which takes a lot of legal ability, which he" doesn't have.
But Paxton's own ability to follow the law has been very much in dispute since he was elected attorney general in 2014.
In July 2015, a Texas grand jury indicted him on two criminal charges of securities fraud and one of failing to register with the state as an investment adviser. He allegedly had offered to sell stock in a tech company without disclosing that he was being paid by that business.
"I am innocent of these charges," he claimed at the time. "It is a travesty that some would attempt to hijack our system of justice to achieve political ends they could not accomplish at the ballot box." The case has still not come to trial.
Last September, a group of senior Paxton staffers asked the federal government to investigate him for "improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses." The whistleblowers pointed to allegations that Paxton had used his position to do special favors for Nate Paul, a real estate developer and a top donor to Paxton. The FBI is reportedly investigating Paxton's actions.
Days after the staffers came forward, Paxton released a statement decrying "false allegations" by "rogue employees."
By November, six of the whistleblowers had alleged retaliation by Paxton, and four of them had been fired from their positions.
On Jan. 6, Paxton appeared at a rally near the White House and egged on Donald Trump supporters, telling them, "We're here. We will not quit fighting." After the crowd marched to the Capitol and rioted, Paxton falsely claimed the attackers were "not Trump supporters."
When news organizations requested copies of work-related messages and emails sent by Paxton while he was in Washington for the rally, Paxton refused to release them.
Last month, two former Paxton business partners successfully named him as a "responsible third party" in another unrelated securities fraud case. They say that in his role as a lawyer for a Texas company, Paxton "committed legal malpractice." He has not been charged with any crime in that matter.
A Paxton spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
Contrary to his assertions of great legal skill, Paxton has lost a lot of his cases as attorney general.
In 2016, the conservative Texas Supreme Court rejected his attempt to nullify the first same-sex marriage conducted in Texas. Paxton has consistently opposed equal treatment for LGBTQ people.
In December, he was behind a failed lawsuit to get the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out 2020 presidential electors for Joe Biden in four states and make Trump the winner of the election.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in response, "From the brief, it looks like a fella begging for a pardon filed a PR stunt rather than a lawsuit — as all of its assertions have already been rejected by federal courts and Texas' own solicitor general isn't signing on."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.