Paxton Digs In His Heels Against His Base

Paxton Digs In His Heels Against His Base

August 17, 2022

Dang!  You True Texans are on FIRE!  Thank you!  It’s been awhile since I’ve received as much feedback as I did regarding the betrayal from Attorney General Ken Paxton.  It is both encouraging to me to know y’all are paying attention, and of course good for Texas to have so many people engaged in the battle!

For those not up to speed yet, please read about our initial lawsuit against the TX Secretary of State for misleading ballot language that led Texans to vote FOR a tax increase after previously voting AGAINST it.  Then you can read about how Paxton was FOR us before he was AGAINST us.  They are both brief and easy reads in layman’s terms.

And now we can fill in you in on what has happened since then…

Obviously Paxton and his staff were none too happy to be publicly outed for betraying the grassroots base (that’s us).  Immediately Paxton’s staff went to work gathering the talking points to mislead you into thinking WE are wrong instead of admitting and correcting their own error in judgment.  That’s typical for politicians.  We’re used to it.  But that doesn’t mean we have to continue to allow it.

Paxton retaliated with 4 claims against True Texas Project, and if you contacted his office you likely heard any number of these.  I’ll list them here, along with how he is intentionally trying to make you shut up and go away.  He’s counting on you to not know better.

  1. Paxton Defense #1:  AG Paxton did not “initially indicate” that he would break from the position of his client, the Secretary of State. Any pre-litigation openness to some of the positions TTP was taking on this issue cannot be construed to mean AG Paxton would wholesale decline to represent the SOS.
    Our ResponseIn private meetings, his senior staff said they agreed with our attorney and our lawsuit, and our attorney generously and in good faith gave them six months to figure out what to do.  Then their junior staffer said they were worried about the Canales’ hearing (he’s the Democrat in the RGV who drafted the misleading proposition and who Paxton is apparently supposed to meet with soon). When our attorney called Paxton’s senior staff, he had no idea what was going on and was given 24 hours to figure out what was happening. Our attorney was told 24 hours later that Paxton himself was making the decision for substantive reasons, which we took as a lie they told to half-heartedly deny the Canales thing. BUT… we agree that his senior staff expressing willingness to settle the case did not indicate that Paxton would follow through and do the right thing. He in fact didn’t do the right thing, but instead seems to be cowering to Canales and the County governments who want more taxing and spending authority.
  2. Paxton Defense #2:  It was TTP—not AG Paxton—that filed suit in front of a Democrat Travis County District Court Judge. AG Paxton has no choice but to litigate the case there.
    Our Response:  Paxton’s office tried to shoot the messengers, whining about us filing the case in Travis County.  State law under Chapter 233 of the Texas Election Code REQUIRES us to file the case in Travis County. Any case to challenge statewide ballot language MUST be filed there and must be brought against the Secretary of State. Paxton knows we had no say in where to file, so to blame TTP on it being in Travis County with a Democrat judge is dishonest.  He’s trying to shift focus from his own dishonorable actions to the Democrats and even TTP.
  3. Paxton Defense #3:  AG Paxton is certainly not arguing that “no citizen has the right to question any ballot language written by the legislature ever again.” Rather, AG Paxton has filed a “plea to the jurisdiction” on facts and law that are unique to this case.
    Our Response:  Wrong. This is a lie. Part one of their PTJ argues the suit should be tossed based on separation of powers, which is a categorical argument that voters can never challenge ballot language in a constitutional amendment election contest. Please read that twice.  Paxton is trying to give the legislature free rein and no consequences… forever.
  4. Paxton Defense #4:  AG Paxton has a basic duty to represent his client: here, the SOS. There’s nothing “liberal” about that, and TTP is wrong to lump AG Paxton in with Democrats just for doing his job.
    Our Response: 
    The AG swears an oath to defend the constitution. He is also tasked ordinarily with defending state bureaucrats. When he (or in this case, several members of his senior staff) indicate they believe the bureaucrat’s position is contrary to the constitution he has four options:
    a.  He could settle the case against the wishes of the bureaucrat. This is the only option there can be debate on over whether they could do it.  Our attorney didn’t ask them to do this, but they said they were considering it.
    b.  He could follow SG Robert Bork’s then-innovative but now accepted practice of filing “dueling briefs.” Here he’d assign a staff attorney to represent the SOS while also filing an amicus brief to express his view, as an elected official, that he agreed with the contestants.  This is the indisputably ethically correct thing to do when he disagrees with SOS.
    c.  He could decline to represent the Sec of State and demand that staff attorneys from the agency (they have their own lawyers) defend their pigheaded position.
    d.  He could decline to represent the SOS but authorize them to use outside counsel. That’s a cowardly shirking of his constitutional responsibility and, to his credit, they didn’t pursue that cowardly option in this case.
    He was asked to do Option B, which was both provide a defense and file a “dueling brief” that disagrees with the SOS. His own staff offered up they were considering doing Option A. He chose not to do neither of those. Moreover his position that it’s his “job” to defend his “client” even when he (or in this case his staff) think the client’s position is contrary to the constitution is a rejection of his constitutional oath, which comes first and foremost. We elect him to defend the constitution and the citizens, not to knee-jerk defend bureaucrats.
    Additionally, back when Greg Abbott was Attorney General, he ruled against a state agency, TxDOT, for deliberately trying to keep details about the Trans Texas Corridor a secret from the public. Remember that? We do. So the Attorney General does NOT ‘have to’ represent a state agency when they’re wrong.

UPDATE:  On top of those 4 misleading statements from Paxton’s office, his team is now admitting to deliberately retaliating against TTP for outing them.  They are now opposing cooperation on scheduling (which they were previously open to) and admitting it is because they are upset over our email to you, the grassroots.  I’ve got a copy of an email from Paxton’s office to our attorney to prove it.

On social media, Paxton’s team is trying to discredit the stellar reputation True Texas Project has built around the state.  They are claiming folks are calling his office to say we’re out of line and arrogant, and that they are leaving True Texas Project over this.  But as I said in the beginning of this update, you True Texans have overwhelmed me with your outrage on this issue and your gratitude for it being brought to your attention.  Nobody is mad at TTP over this!  They are thankful for being informed and advised on how to respond.  We promise to always be that guide for you!

Additionally, we’d like to thank the great Terri Hall and our friends at TURF for initiating the lawsuit in the first place and allowing us and JoAnn Fleming’s Grassroots America We The People to join in.  So the question is now… is it all of us?  Or is it Paxton?  Are all three of these stellar grassroots watchdog groups wrong, and the politician is right?  You decide!

I’ll keep fighting as long as you join me…
Julie McCarty
CEO, True Texas Project