Tag Archives: Ken Paxton

Here’s a thought: Call ’em, ask how mail-in voting works

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, mimicking his fellow Republican Donald J. Trump, thinks mail-in voting invites fraudulent balloting.

That is the crux of his resistance to implementing it in Texas … or so he says.

I have an idea for Paxton to ponder. We have five states that conduct their elections by mail — Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii. Granted, four of the five of them are governed by Democrats; Utah is the exception. Pick up the phone, Mr. Attorney General, and talk at length with any or all of the elections officials in those states and ask them: How do you protect your electoral system from voter fraud?

It might be that Paxton, the loyal Republican, doesn’t want to hear how this works in a state run by Democrats. Big deal. He can call Utah’s election bosses.

Whatever it takes.

The concern over mail-in voting centers more on partisan concerns, in my view, than actual fear of widespread voter fraud. All the states that run their elections by mail report that they have not experienced anything resembling the rampant fraud that Paxton and other Republicans say will occur.

We are in the midst of a national medical emergency. The coronavirus pandemic makes traditional Election Day balloting a potentially life-threatening endeavor. Would I prefer to vote on Nov. 3? Yes, I would. However, I harbor concerns about my health and that of my family, so I want to see a full-blown presidential election occur by mail if that’s the best way to ensure full participation in this most important rite of citizenship.

Donald Trump spilled the beans not long ago by declaring that all-mail voting would doom Republicans’ electoral chances. Which tells me he is far less concerned about vote fraud than he is at his re-election chances. That is just too … damn … bad!

Now we hear from his GOP allies, such as Ken Paxton, parroting the Trump lie about voter fraud concern. That is BS!

The election officials who conduct this kind of balloting in their states proclaim great success. They say their systems are secure.

Again … Mr. Attorney General, if you are truly concerned about voter fraud, listen to your colleagues who just might be able to educate you about how to get more voters involved in this process. They also would be able to tell you how they do so without the so-called “fraud” you insist will occur.

Partisan justice is at work

Judicial rulings aren’t supposed to be tainted by partisan considerations, which is what the founders sought when they created an independent judicial branch of the federal government.

Then we have states such as Texas, which elects its judges on partisan ballots. You have to be either a Democrat or a Republican to run for a spot on any court in the state. That includes the state’s highest civil court of appeals, the Supreme Court.

So what does the all-GOP Supreme Court do? It halts any expansion of mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Texas Democrats want to ensure that more — not fewer — Texans vote in this year’s presidential election. They want the state to institute mail-in voting to allow greater participation among the state’s estimated 15 million eligible voters.

That’s a non-starter for Texas Republicans — and apparently their allies on the Texas Supreme Court. They have reeled in the reddest of herrings by alleging that all-mail-in voting invites rampant voter fraud.

No. It does nothing of the sort … provided that county election officials do their due diligence to ensure that every ballot cast is done by a legitimately registered voter.

My version of political perfection would rely solely on Election Day balloting. However, we cannot have everything we want. The pandemic has made polling-place voting a potentially life-threatening event, which is why mail-in voting is beginning to appeal more to me.

As for voter fraud, well, that is the serious non-starter. Five states have all-mail voting already. They all report without reservation that the incidents of fraudulent voting are rare. There is no such thing in any of those states of “rampant” voter fraud. Why is that? Because election officials take their tasks seriously and they all swear an oath to protect the sanctity of their political institutions.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argues that voter fraud is a major concern for him. Baloney! Paxton’s major concern is whether he is doing the bidding of Donald Trump, who has led the phony chorus of claims of voter fraud. He has actually griped out loud that mail-in voting would doom Republicans’ electoral chances in the future. Aww. Cry me a river.

“Among the State’s highest and most profound interests is protecting the integrity of its elections,” Paxton wrote. “To advance that interest, the … Legislature requires almost every voter to vote by personal appearance at a designated polling place, where trained poll workers confirm the voter’s identity before issuing him a ballot.”

I get that. Really. I do. However, mail-in voting as it has been done in a handful of states is just as secure as it is when it’s done the old-fashioned way.

The Supreme Court is going to hear oral arguments next week. Then it will make a final decision. Anyone want to bet how the all-GOP Supreme Court is going to go on that one?

Partisan bickering could cost more lives

Oh, my goodness. The partisan bickering is filtering from Austin to county courthouses throughout Texas.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is issuing warnings to Democratic mayors and county judges to back off their local coronavirus pandemic mandates because, Paxton says, they do not conform with what Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has declared.

This is rich, man.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, one of those Democrats, has emerged as a champion in my eyes as he seeks to battle the viral infection outbreak in North Texas. Oh, I need to mention that my wife, one of our sons and his family and I reside in next-door Collin County.

Jenkins has ordered that everyone “shall” wear masks when they do business; Abbott’s order doesn’t require the wearing of masks. Thus, Paxton said that Jenkins and other get-tough local officials are overstepping their authority.

C’mon, Mr. AG. The judge is seeking to save Texans’ lives!

It’s all part of what looks like a deepening and widening of the partisan divide in Washington as Democrats and Republicans squabble over how to fight this pandemic. This won’t surprise you, but I do believe Democrats are on the correct side in that D.C. fight, with Donald Trump continuing to muddle his messages and continuing to pick fights with Democratic governors needlessly.

It’s now happening in Austin, where Republican state officials are haggling with Democratic local officials over which of them is taking the correct course. GOP officials want to reopen the economy more rapidly than their Democratic colleagues. Why are Democrats dragging their feet? Let’s see. Oh, they fear that a too-rapid reopening puts Texans’ lives in danger!

Hey, that concern is good enough for me.

So, with that, allow me this rejoinder: Mr. Texas Attorney General … back off!

Texas AG: Gun shops are an ‘essential’ business … yikes!

I suppose you can chalk this one up as an “only in Texas” kind of thing.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has determined that gun shops are an “essential business” and therefore can remain open while other businesses are being shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

There is something kind of weird about Paxton’s decision, which countermands a statement issued by the mayor of Lubbock, who determined that gun shops in the West Texas city are “non-essential” and should close during this time of crisis.

How do we define essential? The way I define the term, that would include businesses that sell food, medicine, various household cleaning supplies.

But … guns? Seriously? Ken Paxton thinks that guns count as something Texans need to purchase.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t issued a stay-at-home order for all Texans. He has left that decision up to local governments, some of which have been proactive; others have been, well, not so much.

State Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Lubbock Republican, asked Paxton for a ruling after the mayor made his determination. I guess Burrows got what he sought.

I just find Paxton’s decision to be peculiar … although not the least bit surprising. Gotta have them guns at the ready, right? I mean, we just don’t have enough of ’em out there already.

Texas AG to California: Butt out of our affairs

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This item was published initially on KETR-FM’s website, ketr.org.

I am inclined as a general rule to oppose Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s world view on most matters.

However, on the issue of seeking to remove one state’s non-essential travel ban to Texas because of our state’s strong stand in favor of “religious liberty,” I believe he is onto something.

What constitutes “essential travel”? I suppose one example would be in the event of a natural disaster emergency, in which firefighters or other first responders travel from California to Texas to lend aid.

Here’s the issue: In 2017, Texas legislators enacted a law that, among other things, allows foster-care agencies to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children. California responded by banning non-essential publicly funded travel from California to Texas, citing what California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called a discriminatory policy against gay Americans. It falls under the religious liberty doctrine, of which Paxton has become an aggressive advocate.

At one level, Becerra has a point. I don’t like the Texas law either. I believe – on this point – that gay couples are fully capable of being loving parents to children who need a home. As one who believes homosexuality is a matter of genetics rather than upbringing or of choice, the Texas law looks to me to be an overreach.

However, so is the California response to this state enacting a law that comports with its residents’ generally conservative world view.

Paxton has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene on Texas’ behalf. He is asking the highest court in the land to overturn the California travel ban, saying that California is trying to police how other states conduct their affairs.

“California is attempting to punish Texans for respecting the right of conscience for foster care and adoption workers,” Paxton said.

As the Texas Tribune reports, this latest salvo is just the latest in a long-running feud between the states, with California and Texas being the country’s top Democratic and Republican strongholds, respectively. Do you remember how former Gov. Rick Perry would venture to California to lure businesses from that state to Texas? Critics of that effort – and I was one of them – called it “job poaching.”

Paxton – who is in the midst of another fight involving his own indictment for securities fraud – has now joined the battle.

Texas is one of 11 states that have received travel bans from California, which to Paxton’s eyes is acting like a state run by busy-bodies. One of those states, Oklahoma, responded by banning non-essential travel to California from Oklahoma. I suppose Texas could respond accordingly.

Paxton is likely to have a friendly audience if the high court decides to take up the case. It has a solid conservative majority. Yes, it’s only 5-4 at the moment, but the five conservative justices – with the possible exception of Chief Justice John Roberts – are inclined to stand solidly behind GOP policymakers’ point of view.

I will say that I think Paxton makes a solid argument that California need not intrude into the affairs of other states governed by politicians who don’t hue to that state’s political leaning.

Texas AG needs to go on trial

Is this the year that Texas’s indicted attorney general stands trial on charges of committing securities fraud? Finally? Will we get a resolution?

Republican Ken Paxton and his legal team are trying to get the case moved back to Collin County, which is Paxton’s home county; he represented North Texas in the Legislature before being elected as attorney general. Prosecutors are concerned that a Collin County jury won’t be impartial enough to render a reasonable verdict.

But wait! A Collin County grand jury was able to indict Paxton on felony charges. Thus, I don’t have a particular problem with the case coming back here.

At issue is an indictment that alleges Paxton didn’t disclose his connection with an investment firm. The indictment came down in 2015, the year after Paxton was elected attorney general. He has since won re-election to the AG’s office.

What boggles my mind is the number of delays that have occurred since the initial indictment … nearly five years ago! They have involved venue change requests, damage done by Hurricane Harvey (given that the case has moved to Houston).

Texas needs an attorney general who either is cleared of the allegations that are hanging over his head or one who would replace an AG who’s been convicted of a felony crime.

As the Beaumont Enterprise said in an editorial, enough already, with the incessant delays.

How about a trial this year?

Texas AG waits and waits and waits … to stand trial

This just isn’t normal.

The state’s top law enforcement official continues to function with a dark cloud hanging directly over him, but there’s no apparent resolution in sight on how that cloud will disappear.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted for securities fraud. He was elected in 2014 with that indictment hanging over him. Then he won re-election — albeit narrowly — in 2018 with the same cloud.

There have been venue change rulings and then delay upon delay.

Paxton got indicted by a grand jury in Collin County — which Paxton used to represent in the Texas Legislature — on felony counts of security fraud. Grand jurors accused him of failing to register with the state while receiving payments in return for soliciting clients for a North Texas investment firm.

Paxton also has received complaints from the Texas Securities Board, which reprimanded him for soliciting clients without being properly registered.

This is ridiculous.

The Texas Tribune has published a fascinating timeline of Paxton’s legal difficulties. Read it here.

I am left to doubt damn near everything that this guy says in his capacity as Texas AG. Sure, he’s entitled to an innocence presumption. However, a grand jury indictment doesn’t just happen because grand jurors are intent, to borrow a phrase, on “indicting a ham sandwich.”

Now the principals are caught up in a side issue involving prosecutors’ pay. More delays, foot-dragging and whatever.

Justice isn’t being delivered on this matter. The state’s attorney general needs to stand trial and there needs to be a resolution of the serious charges that have been brought against him.

Texas going into battle on behalf of . . . Chick-Fil-A?

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton put a message out via Twitter that said this . . .

The City of San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A based on the religious beliefs associated with the company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance. It’s discriminatory, and not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law.

Sigh.

I am truly undecided on this one.

San Antonio officials have decided to remove Chick-Fil-A from its new airport terminal. Why? Because the fast-food owners have said they oppose same-sex marriage. The city said it cannot support a company that has “anti-LGBTQ” sentiments.

Paxton’s argument is that the prohibition violates the religious liberty clause in the U.S. Constitution and it runs counter to state law that bans discrimination on the basis of religion.

My own view is that I do not choose to patronize businesses on the basis of their politics. I don’t boycott films by actors whose politics differ from my own, either.

I have no particular bone to pick — no pun intended — with Chick-Fil-A one way or the other. Its food is OK. I do recall not long after the company CEO made his anti-gay-marriage comment that the lines grew long at the Chick-Fil-A in southwest Amarillo. I didn’t want to wait forever for a so-so chicken sandwich. I guess some folks in the Texas Panhandle were hot to trot over the CEO’s comment; they said, “Hell yes!” to his view and decided to demonstrate their support by waiting in line for a very long time.

It ain’t my bag, man.

This matter is much ado about nothing too much.

I think I can predict that the lines at Chick-Fil-A are going to grow long once again.

Fine. Knock yourselves out, folks.

Texas AG becomes environmental watchdog

I’ll be candid. I never have considered Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to be much of an environmental watchdog, let alone an activist. 

So, what does the top state Republican legal eagle do? He files a lawsuit against a Houston company that owns a storage terminal that erupted in flames, pouring tons of chemicals into the air.

Intercontinental Terminals has been slapped with a lawsuit over the fires that detonated at its suburban Deer Park storage units. It has closed the Houston Ship Channel, one of the world’s busiest international shipping waterways. The fires have contaminated the air, pouring clouds filled with cancer-causing benzine.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It alleges that Intercontinental Terminals has filed the Texas Clean Air Act.

The company faces the possibility of stiff fines if the AG wins his lawsuit.

Company faces major fines

Environmental groups are cheering the attorney general on. I want to join them, even though it does surprise me.

Paxton was a GOP legislator from Collin County before he got elected as AG in 2014. He was re-elected to a second term in 2018. He’s had a bit of legal trouble, facing a probable trial on securities fraud later this year. But that’s another story.

I find his lawsuit to be a fairly refreshing and pleasant surprise.

The Deer Park fires have been buggers to extinguish. They have blackened the sky along the Gulf Coast. They have put thousands of Texans’ health at risk.

I stand with AG Ken Paxton in seeking justice.

Sen. Paxton exhibits a form of tone deafness

Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton — who was just elected in 2018 — is new in her job as a legislator. The McKinney Republican, though, should have thought better than to propose a bill for consideration that involves her husband, the state attorney general.

Why is that? Attorney General Ken Paxton is awaiting trial on a securities fraud allegation. Sen. Paxton, though, has proposed Senate Bill 860, which broadens the AG’s regulatory power over those who market financial services. You see, AG Paxton is accused of failing to report his own involvement as a securities adviser to potential clients.

Therefore, I intend to accuse Sen. Paxton of being tone deaf.

She is one of 19 Republicans serving in the Texas Senate. I would doubt seriously any of the dozen Democrats who serve with her would buy into what she wants to do, so we’ll look briefly at her GOP colleagues.

It seems odd that the spouse of a statewide elected official who is set to stand trial for securities fraud would propose legislation that affects the official who’s about to become a defendant in a court trial.

They talk about whether legislation passes the “smell test.” This one doesn’t, at least not my olfactory glands.

Couldn’t the rookie Texas senator find a GOP colleague among the 18 of them who serve with her to carry this legislation forward?

AG might get new power

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t necessarily endorse SB 860. It expands the power of the attorney general and seems to remove a level of transparency that should be required when it involves securities and financial regulation.

It’s just that Sen. Paxton carrying a bill that has a direct impact her husband, who’s facing potential prison time if he’s convicted of securities fraud, is a stinker.

Ethics watchdogs seem to believe it stinks, too. I’m on their side.