Tag Archives: Ken Paxton

State AG is — what? — a criminal?

Call me a prude. Heck, you might even accuse me of having more than a touch of righteous sanctimony.

However, I am of the belief that a state’s top law enforcement official — its attorney general — ought to be clean as a spit-shined boot. There should be zero question about how he conducts his personal and/or business affairs.

Well, Texans, welcome to a new world.

We have an attorney general who’s been fined by the state for soliciting investment clients without following all the rules the state sets down for such activity.


Ken Paxton is a former Republican state representative who was elected attorney general in November. The Texas Securities Board has fined the AG-to-be $1,000 for failing to register under the law his investment solicitation activity.

Paxton has waived his right to appeal the sanction, which is tantamount to admitting he broke the law.

OK, the guy didn’t commit a violent crime. He didn’t rob a bank or hold anyone hostage. However, he broke state law.

Now he’s about to take an oath in which he will defend the Texas Constitution and vow to enforce all the laws of the state.

A Paxton spokesman told this to the Texas Tribune: “As for Friday’s order, Paxton spokesman Anthony Holm said the campaign ‘took immediate action and proactively communicated the Texas Tribune’s questions to the state board.’

We asked the board to treat us like every other citizen of the state and that they take all necessary time to review our filings,’ Holm said. ‘Due to an administrative oversight, we have paid an administrative fine of $1,000. We are pleased this matter has been resolved and a speedy resolution has been reached.'”

Actually, the Texas attorney general isn’t like “every other citizen of the state.” He should be clean. Spotless. He shouldn’t get into the kind of trouble that found Ken Paxton.

Aw, what the heck. Texas politics apparently doesn’t take that kind of thing into account.


Miserable campaign about to end

I have to agree with those who have described the Texas Republican runoff campaign as one of the most miserable in recent memory.

Heck, it might be the worst in anyone’s memory.

The lieutenant governor’s GOP runoff between incumbent David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick has devolved into a mud fest “featuring” the release of Patrick’s medical records in an attempt to imply that the Patrick might suffer from latent emotional scars from a previous bout with depression.

The attorney general’s runoff between Dan Branch and Ken Paxton has become a contest over which guy is more crooked than the other one.

The Railroad Commission race between Ryan Sitton and Wayne Christian has brought forth allegations that one of the candidates, Christian, is a closet greenie who’s unfriendly to the state’s oil and gas industry.


The Republican Party is at war with itself. It’s the Establishment vs. the Tea Party. The Establishment has been winning statewide battles around the country. I’m not sure the civil war is playing out quite that way in Texas, where the establishment wing of the GOP has become just as conservative as the tea party wing. Watching these people trying to outflank each other on the right is akin to watching someone walking a tightrope over a bottomless abyss.

It hasn’t been much fun to watch.

I’m ready for it all to end, which it will when the ballots are counted Tuesday night.

Texas politics always is bloody

I’ve noted before how Texas politics is a contact sport.

The source of that description came to me from the late great Democratic U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. It’s more than mere contact, however. At times it becomes a blood sport.

Take the Republican runoff race for Texas lieutenant governor or the GOP runoff contest for state attorney general. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston are going at each other hammer and tong. It well might be that the Dan Branch-Ken Paxton contest for AG is even nastier, with Paxton running TV ads accusing Branch of being a — gulp! — “liberal Republican” who voted for third-trimester abortions and has backed the dreaded Obamacare.

This kind of campaigning isn’t new to Texas.

The Texas Tribune looked back at the 1990 Democratic race for governor as its prime example of how low it can go.


Attorney General Jim Mattox squared off against State Treasurer Ann Richards. They finished at the top of the primary heap that year and faced each other in a runoff for the party nomination.

Mattox actually accused Richards of using illegal drugs. Richards, a recovering alcoholic, had been clean and sober for many years. That didn’t matter to the bulldog Mattox, who made the accusation during a live TV debate with Richards, according to the Tribune.

Richards would win the runoff and would go on to beat Republican oilman Clayton Williams in the fall after Williams (a) made that terrible gaffe about rape and how women should “just relax and enjoy it” and (b) refused to shake Richards’s hand at an event they attended jointly, instead calling her a “liar” within hearing distance of an open microphone.

Yes, we should lament the nastiness of these current campaigns. Let’s not get too overwrought about them, however. They’re hardly new creations of this new age.

This nastiness is part of what makes Texas politics so, um, invigorating.

Texas AG candidates misrepresent their role

Texas has a long history of tough-talking macho men running for state attorney general.

They make all kinds of vows: to crack down on border security, to be tough on crime, to fight the federal government.

That’s all fine, except that the office requires little of what they individuals are trying to sell.

This year’s Republican primary for attorney general is no different. It’s getting tiresome, to be honest, listening to these individuals try out to out-tough each other.


The attorney general essentially is the state’s in-house lawyer. He or she represents the state primarily in civil matters. Crime-fighting? They leave that job to the district attorneys elected to serve the state’s 254 counties.

The closest the AG comes to fighting crime is chasing down dead-beat parents who are delinquent on their child-support payments.

Barry Smitherman touts his experience as a prosecutor; Ken Paxton boasts that he has tea party U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s support; Dan Branch declares his devotion to the sanctity of human life. They’re all spending a lot of money to promote themselves.

None of it matters as much as how well they’ll perform as a civil litigator representing Texas.


My favorite attorney general candidate of all time, though, was the late Democrat Jim Mattox, who used to brag about how tough he was crime and how he loved a good political battle.

The late great liberal newspaper columnist Molly Ivins once said of Mattox that if he spotted an ice cream stand and a crowd of folks fighting on opposites sides of a street, he’d go for the fight.

Did that make him a good attorney general? No. It did make for a good punch line.

Mattox’s political descendants — who represent the other party — nonetheless are following his lead in their quest for the office he once held.