Tag Archives: Texas AG’s Office

Pols tend to set low standard

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When a politician sets a bar that is lower than a snake’s belly, one could tend to accept any improvement as a big plus, no matter how minimal it might appear.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to my way of thinking, comes close to being the epitome of a politician who sets a low bar for the high office he occupies.

This guy is Texas’s chief law enforcement officer. He should come to the office with high credentials, stellar legal standing and a  reputation that is beyond reproach. Has he met any of those standards? Umm, no.

He was a mediocre lawyer when he ran for the Legislature. He won election as AG in 2014 and then quickly got indicted on a securities fraud allegation; Paxton is still awaiting trial in state court. Then several of his highly placed legal assistance filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that Paxton is engaging in criminal activity; that investigation is ongoing, too.

Up steps a challenger in the 2022 GOP primary. He is George P. Bush, son of a former Florida governor and nephew and grandson of two former POTUSes. I already am on record as endorsing Bush’s decision to challenge Paxton, although I will not commit to voting for him in the 2022 GOP primary.

I do question whether Bush brings any stronger legal credentials to this campaign than Paxton. What has this fellow done legally? Does his name appear on any landmark statute? Is he in high demand as a lecturer at any of the state’s distinguished law schools? Not as far as I can tell.

George P. Bush currently serves as Texas land commissioner, where is runs an agency — the General Land Office — that is charged with caring for Texas veterans benefits along with administering the state’s paltry amount of public land.

Hey, I don’t mind electing these folks. I just wish that politicians could somehow find a way to lift the standard of the office they seek and then hold.

Politics and impeccable standards need not be mutually exclusive. Then again … maybe I am asking for too much.

Paxton seeks way out from under cloud

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Whenever I see and hear about Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton launching a legal pursuit my mind drifts automatically to the troubles he continues to face.

Paxton is suing the Biden administration over its decision to suspend deportation of immigrants. He says President Biden’s order is in direct violation of an agreement that Biden’s predecessor signed before he left office.

OK, whatever.

I cannot help but wonder about Paxton’s motives, even as he acts in conjunction with his Texas constitutional responsibility.

I don’t trust Ken Paxton’s judgment in the least.

He is awaiting a trial in state court over an allegation that he defrauded investors in a securities fraud matter. A Collin County grand jury indicted him in 2015; his case has dragged on for more than five years.

Plus, we now know that the FBI is looking into allegations by his top legal assistants that he is abusing the power of his office as AG. The feds are looking into it to determine whether there is enough to pursue criminal action.

Don’t you feel well represented by this mediocre lawyer? I damn sure don’t. I want him to resign his office. He embarrassed Texas by filing a ridiculous lawsuit with the Supreme Court that sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in several states that voted for President Biden; he wanted the court to overturn those results on phony constitutional grounds. SCOTUS tossed his lawsuit aside, with all three of Donald Trump’s appointees voting with the majority opinion.

Texas AG Ken Paxton needs to quit his office. He needs to return to private life. Every public decision he makes is shrouded by suspicion in many Texans’ eyes — including mine — that we are being represented by a crook.

AG Paxton certainly is a ‘public employee’

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is making yet another dubious argument that requires a comment from, oh, this blog.

Paxton’s legal team is arguing that as an elected official he is exempt from being held accountable for a whistleblower allegation that he has broken several laws in the conduct of his public office.

As the Texas Tribune reports: The Texas attorney general’s office is attempting to fight off efforts by four former aides to take depositions and issue subpoenas in their lawsuit claiming they were illegally fired after telling authorities they believed Attorney General Ken Paxton was breaking the law.

The agency is arguing that Paxton is “not a public employee,” and thus the office cannot be sued under the Texas Whistleblower Act, which aims to protect government workers from retaliation when they report superiors for breaking the law.

I beg to differ. Strenuously, actually. You see, the attorney general draws his salary from the public trough. Who provides the money for that salary? We do! You and I pay that money. That means the attorney general is a “public employee.”

He works for us!

Also, from the Texas Tribune: Four former Paxton aides claim they were fired in retaliation for telling authorities they believed Paxton had done illegal favors for a political donor, Austin real estate investor Nate Paul. The whistleblowers’ allegations have reportedly sparked an FBI investigation.

Texas AG’s office argues whistleblower laws don’t apply to Ken Paxton | The Texas Tribune

Ken Paxton ought to resign as attorney general. He needs to free the public office from the embarrassment he brings to it … and to those of us who pay his salary!

What if a pardon comes and he accepts it?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s a play that old game of “What If … ”

What if Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is looking for a presidential pardon, which was his reason for filing a hopelessly stupid lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Paxton sought to persuade the court to require that four states that voted for Joe Biden for president toss their votes and give the majority to Donald Trump. SCOTUS said “no” to the lawsuit. The justices tossed it into the crapper. They dismissed Paxton’s complaint that alleged the states changed their election laws in violation of the Constitution.

What if a pardon comes. Trump pardons Paxton for any federal crimes he might have committed. Indeed, the FBI is examining complaints filed by whistleblowers who worked in Paxton’s office; the individuals were fired or resigned in protest.

What if Paxton accepts the pardon. Isn’t that a de fact admission of guilt? Does that mean the state’s top legal authority has committed crimes worthy of a presidential pardon?

And does that mean we have an acknowledged criminal serving as the elected attorney general, the individual who represents Texas’s legal interests?

What if he accepts the pardon. Where I come from, that means the Texas attorney general should resign from office.

Am I off base?

Paxton strikes back at whistleblowers

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s do a little math, shall we?

Seven top aides to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have called for a federal investigation into what they allege is corrupt practices with the AG’s office, including bribery.

Two of the seven were fired; two others were put on “leave.” Two plus two equals four, correct?

And yet a spokesman for the embattled AG says the actions taken have nothing to do with the complaint the top legal eagles have filed against Paxton. Where I come from, it looks for all the world as if the firings and the placing on leave have everything  to do with the whistleblower complaint.

Paxton ought to resign, per the request from U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a fellow Republican from Austin. There’s no way on Earth that the state’s chief law enforcement officer — who’s awaiting trial on securities fraud charges stemming from a Collin County grand jury indictment — can serve while having these storm clouds brewing over his head.

But the AG is hanging on.

Shameful, I am telling you.

As the Texas Tribune has reported:

The aides, who represented a large share of the agency’s most senior staff, alerted law enforcement and then agency human resources that they believed Paxton was using the power of his office to serve a political donor, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul. The agency had taken the unusual step of weighing in on a lawsuit that involved Paul, and Paxton personally hired an outside investigator — in a process aides called highly suspect — to vet the donor’s complaints

Ian Prior, a spokesperson for Paxton’s campaign, denied Friday that the personnel decisions had anything to do with their accusations against Paxton.

“Any suggestion that this has to do with the whistleblower claims is false and demonstrates an unfamiliarity with the facts,” Prior said. “There are a number of reasons for these separations that we cannot discuss at this time.”

Ken Paxton is unfit for the office of Texas attorney general.

Should AG Paxton quit?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Suffice to say that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton doesn’t have quite the same hold on Texas Republicans as, say, Donald J. Trump.

Consider what has happened since seven top Texas AG’s office aides have alleged that Paxton has engaged in activity that abuses the power of his office, including bribery.

The top dogs in the AG’s office have called for a federal investigation into Paxton’s conduct. Gov. Greg Abbott calls the allegations a “serious matter.”

But then U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, an Austin Republican, has called for Paxton to resign his office. Hit the road, Mr. AG, says Roy. Paxton has responded that he isn’t quitting. He calls the allegations phony and vows to fight them for all he’s worth.

I would prefer that Paxton quit. Not because Rep. Chip Roy says so, but because I also believe the allegations are “serious” and they sound credible to me.

It’s not every day that seven top legal minds put their names on a letter alleging behavior that smacks of outright criminality. One of them is the top aide, Jeff Mateer, who quit the attorney general’s office this past week the moment the letter went public.

There’s also the pending trial that Paxton must endure. He is accused of securities fraud. A Collin County grand jury indicted him in 2015, but years of wrangling over where to hold the trial has delayed justice in this case.

I guess the bottom line is that Paxton should quit the AG’s office. How does a state attorney general serve as the state’s top lawyer with an ounce of credibility when he faces the prospect of a federal investigation into whether he took or offered a bribe? 

Time for answers in young man’s death

Thomas Kelly Brown’s loved ones — his family and his friends throughout Hemphill County, Texas — need more than what they apparently got from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

The AG says Brown, who disappeared on Thanksgiving 2018, was not the victim of “foul play.” Never mind that his body was found far removed from his laptop and his backpack. As others have noted already, this case has “foul play” screaming from it.

Yet the AG says there was no “evidence” that foul play occurred.
OK, so how did this young man die? Shouldn’t the attorney general, who along with the Texas Rangers and Hemphill County authorities searched for clues surrounding the young Canadian High School senior’s disappearance and death, provide some form of closure to the young man’s death?

Hey, these aren’t just a gaggle of nosy Noras wanting to satisfy their idle curiosity. They have a serious emotional stake in this matter.

They are entitled to a full explanation into how the authorities reached what many of us believe is a faulty conclusion.

Where to put Public Integrity Unit

This one has tied me up in knots.

State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Spring, has pitched a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the state’s Public Integrity Unit from the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and place it in the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

It’s a no-brainer, yes?

Not exactly.

http://blog.mysanantonio.com/texas-politics/2015/01/riddle-bill-would-move-public-integrity-unit-to-ags-office/

This has “political payback” written all over it.

The Public Integrity Unit became the source of intense controversy this past summer when a grand jury indicted former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public official, DA Rosemary Lehmberg.

OK. Hang with me. Lehmberg is a Democrat. Perry is a Republican. Lehmberg pleaded guilty to drunken driving and should have quit her office; she didn’t. Perry then issued a public threat to veto money for the Public Integrity Unit if Lehmberg didn’t resign. She stayed in office and Perry made good on his threat.

The grand jury — guided by a special prosecutor — returned the indictment and Perry accused the panel of playing raw politics.

Now comes the Legislature controlled by Republicans, saying that the attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton, should manage the Public Integrity Unit.

The Public Integrity Unit’s major responsibility is to investigate complaints against officials who’ve been accused of misusing their authority. The office has investigated Democrats as well as Republicans. Has it been an inherently partisan political office, targeting Republican officeholders unfairly? I haven’t followed the PIU’s activities closely enough over the years to draw that conclusion.

Riddle’s legislation would amend the Texas Constitution to put the PIU under the attorney general’s purview. Can an agency run by a partisan Republican do a thorough, fair, unbiased and objective job of investigation complaints leveled against public officials?

I think so, just as I believe the Travis County DA’s office can do the very same thing.

Why change? Well, it seems that Riddle and other legislative Republicans are seeking to make good on a campaign promise. As the San Antonio Express-News notes in a blog about Riddle’s proposal: “Republicans prefer that model, in part because the current set-up gives power for investigating mostly GOP state leaders in the hands of a prosecutor elected by one of the most liberal parts of the state.”

Interesting.

Here’s a possible third option: How about creating an independent agency led by someone approved by a bipartisan panel of legislators?