Much like Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) Cancún getaway during one of his state’s worst disasters in modern history, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, fled to Utah last week while millions of Texans suffered from a power outage crisis in freezing temperatures.
Dallas Morning News first broke the story on Paxton’s out-of-state trip.
According to DMN, Paxton’s campaign spokesman Ian Prior claimed that the Texas attorney general traveled to Utah to meet with the state’s attorney general, but did not answer questions regarding the timing of Paxton’s departure or return.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes confirmed to DMN that the attorneys general met in Salt Lake City on Wednesday afternoon and again on Friday.
Prior told DMN that the meeting was planned prior to Texas’ deep freeze last weekend. Prior claimed they met multiple times over the course of several days to strategize “imminent action” in an antitrust lawsuit that several states are waging against Google.
Paxton himself attended a demonstration of a police training program, according to DMN.
“Further, he attended a demonstration of Utah’s law enforcement scenario simulator, which included a wide variety of real situations law enforcement must deal with such as the use of force, mental illness, and de-escalation. This is a program that AG Paxton has been considering implementing in Texas,” Prior told DMN in a text message.
DMN reported that it’s unclear why the visit wasn’t rescheduled amid Texas’ power outage crisis.
“I cannot further share additional details or the specific reasons on the need for the meeting concerning Google as it involves an ongoing investigation,” Prior told DMN.
According to DMN, Prior said Paxton’s house lost power, but that the attorney general did not depart Texas “until after power had returned to most of the state, including his own home.”
DMN reported that Prior did not answer when asked questions regarding funding for Paxton’s out-of-state trip, such as whether the Texas attorney general footed the bill or used state money.
Randan Steinhauser, the spokesperson for Angela Paxton — the wife of the Texas attorney general who serves as a state senator — told DMN in a text message that she joined her husband on a “previously planned trip to Utah” that included “meetings that benefit her efforts to promote human dignity and support law enforcement.”
DMN reported that Steinhauser gave no further detail and did not immediately respond to inquiries about who Paxton met with, how the trip was funded or when the couple traveled to Utah.
According to DMN, It’s unclear whether the Paxtons have landed back in Texas.
On the day he met with Reyes, Paxton tweeted the phone number Texans can call to report price gouging, following reports of price gouging on bottled water and hotel rooms as Texans tried to stay warm and find safe drinking water. Paxton also criticized the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the nonprofit that manages the state’s power grid.
“They have left 3+ million homes w/o power for days, including my own,” Paxton tweeted on Wednesday evening. “What do they do in response? Jack up prices, go silent, make excuses, & play the blame game. It’s unacceptable!”
Last Friday, Paxton announced his agency would investigate ERCOT.
“I will work to get to the bottom of what has happened,” Paxton tweeted the next day. “Texans deserve answers.”
Paxton made headlines late last year for defending former President Trump’s unfounded election fraud claims by filing an unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to overturn election results in several key battleground states. Additionally, Paxton further egged on Trump’s falsehoods when he spoke at the rally in Washington, D.C. with Trump hours before the deadly Capitol insurrection last month.
The FBI is investigating Paxton for allegedly abusing his office to help a campaign donor, which the Texas attorney general denies.
Paxton has also been under indictment for five years following allegations of defrauding investors in a North Texas technology company. Paxton pleaded not guilty and has not faced trial yet.