The State Bar Association Is Investigating the Texas Attorney General
Attorney General Ken Paxton is being accused of filing a frivolous lawsuit in an attempt to overturn President Biden’s victory.
The State Bar of Texas is investigating whether Attorney General Ken Paxton committed professional misconduct by pursuing a legal challenge to President Biden’s victory, which a complaint described as a “frivolous lawsuit” that squandered taxpayer money.
The investigation, which could result in disciplinary action ranging from a reprimand to disbarment, is the latest roadblock for Mr. Paxton, who has been accused of bribery and corruption and was indicted in 2015 on securities fraud charges in an unresolved case.
Mr. Paxton, a Republican, is also facing a primary challenge next year from a member of the Bush family for attorney general, the state’s highest law enforcement position and a position that has served as a political springboard. Governor Greg Abbott and Senator John Cornyn preceded him in office.
Mr. Paxton filed a lawsuit in early December after it became clear that Mr. Biden had won the election. The lawsuit was mocked by many legal experts and ultimately dismissed by the United States Supreme Court. He had petitioned the court to extend the deadline for presidential elector certification, arguing that election irregularities in four additional states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — warranted further investigation.
Kevin Moran, a retired Houston Chronicle reporter and president of the Galveston Island Democrats, filed a complaint with the Texas State Bar the following month. Mr. Moran contended in his filing that Mr. Paxton was aware that the lawsuit lacked legal merit and that any unelected lawyer would face discipline for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
“Despite the fact that he was aware that the national election was NOT rigged or stolen, he acted in a manner that fueled those baseless conspiracy theories across the country,” Mr. Moran wrote.
The State Bar of Texas stated that it was prohibited from discussing pending matters by statute, and the attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Paxton’s campaign spokesman, Ian Prior, called the complaint a “low-level stunt” and “frivolous allegation,” adding that “Democrats in Texas continue to demonstrate how much they despise election integrity.”
The state bar’s chief disciplinary counsel’s office initially dismissed the complaint, but it was later reinstated by the state bar’s Board of Disciplinary Appeals, which is appointed by the Texas Supreme Court. Mr. Moran was notified by the 12-member board in late May that his appeal had been granted after the board “found that the grievance alleges a possible violation” of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Misconduct.
Mr. Moran, 71, stated on Thursday that he filed the complaint as a “upset citizen” — not as a Democratic official — because he was outraged by the attorney general’s lawsuit, especially in light of the fact that a majority of judges had upheld Mr. Biden’s victory.
“I believe he should be disbarred based on his track record,” he said of Mr. Paxton.
Mr. Moran filed an appeal after receiving a letter from the state bar dismissing his complaint in January. He stated that he was somewhat surprised to see it granted.
In cases such as Mr. Paxton’s, the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel must conduct an initial investigation to determine whether there is sufficient cause to proceed. If it determines that there is, the charge of professional misconduct will be heard in a trial court or by an evidentiary panel.
Mr. Paxton, who is serving his second term as Texas attorney general, faces a difficult re-election campaign against George P. Bush, the state’s land commissioner and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Both candidates are vying for former President Donald J. Trump’s endorsement, who continues to wield influence over Texas Republicans.