The Texas Legislature convenes today and will run for the next 140 days — or so — while seeking to do the state’s business. Let’s hope they get it all done in one sitting.
Let’s look briefly, though, at an interesting political juxtaposition.
State Sen. Angela Paxton takes office as a rookie legislator. She won a hard-fought Republican primary this past spring and then cruised to election in the fall.
Then we have Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Angela’s husband, who also won re-election with relative ease in November.
Where might the conflict lie? Well, I’ve been watching Texas politics and government up close for nearly 35 years and this is the first time I’ve been aware of spouses holding elected office in separate branches of government. Yes, we have a father-daughter duo serving at the moment — state Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland and Railroad Commissioner Christy Craddick.
The AG and Sen. Paxton arrangement, though, might present a potential problem once the Legislature gets around to actually legislating. I am thinking specifically of money matters; even more specifically about the issue of salaries for executive branch officials, which the Legislature controls.
How is Sen. Paxton going to avoid any potential conflict of interest if the issue of pay for state officials comes up? Is the senator going to vote to give her husband a pay increase, which could open up questions of whether the senator is feathering her own nest with an affirmative vote? Or, might Sen. Paxton simply abstain?
I would prefer she not take part in any vote having anything to do with financial remuneration involving her husband.
She’s likely smart enough to know better. I trust the AG is as well.
I look forward to keeping an eye on both of them. Sen. Paxton now represents me, as I now reside in Collin County. So does her husband, who as attorney general represents all Texans spread across our vast state.
Be careful, folks.