The State Bar of Texas is investigating whether the state’s attorney general violated professional misconduct rules in his effort to overturn the 2020 election, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Texas Attorney General Paxton led the charge to rally Republican attorneys general and others in an effort to steal Donald Trump a second term in office, leading a lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to throw out four other states’ election results and allow those states’ legislatures to decide which candidate would get their Electoral College votes instead. The Supreme Court rejected the case.
Biden won the four states targeted by Paxton’s suit — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — but all four state legislatures were led by Republicans. Hundreds of Republican officials — attorneys general and federal and state lawmakers — backed the Paxton-led effort.
According to Wednesday’s AP report, Kevin Moran, president of the Galveston Island Democrats, complained to the state bar that Paxton’s suit was frivolous and unethical. The bar initially declined to take up the complaint, but that decision was later overturned by a tribunal overseeing grievances against lawyers, the AP reported, a relatively rare move.
Moran provided documents confirming the investigation, the AP reported, including a June 3 letter from the bar giving Paxton less than a month to reply to Moran’s claims. Subsequently, bar staff will investigate the complaint and, potentially, initiate a disciplinary process that could ultimately result in Paxton’s disbarment or lesser punishments, according to the report.
Paxton, the New York Times reported in January, was considered a fraught messenger for the massive effort to throw out four states’ election results, namely because of the federal investigation into whether he improperly helped a donor friend.
In October last year, multiple top aides in Paxton’s office accused him of corruption related to alleged help that Paxton had provided the friend, real estate investor Nate Paul, in exchange for personal favors. The FBI reportedly then launched a probe. Paxton is also battling a whistleblower complaint alleging he retaliated against staffers who made the allegations.
Paxton has denied wrongdoing in the matter. He was chosen to lead the lawsuit to win Trump a second term after Louisiana Attorney General Jeffrey Landry declined, the Times reported. The suit was notably missing the signature of Texas’ Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins, who subsequently resigned from the attorney general’s office in the day’s following the Capitol attack.
Paxton was present in D.C. on Jan. 6, telling the rally crowd nearby the White House, “We will not quit fighting.” He has since refused to disclose details about the trip, including communications he sent that day.