Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has been under indictment on state felony fraud charges for nearly six years, he's under investigation by the FBI for allegedly accepting bribes from a real estate developer, and his bid for a third term is under threat from Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who is basing his primary challenge partly on Paxton's legal troubles. Now, The Associated Press reports, Paxton is facing a disciplinary investigation by the Texas bar association.
The State Bar of Texas originally dismissed a complaint that Paxton had committed professional misconduct by petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn President Biden's victory in four swing states. But the Board of Disciplinary Appeals, a tribunal of 12 independent lawyers appointed by the Texas Supreme Court, overturned that decision late last month, ordering the bar to investigate whether Paxton's lawsuit to overturn Biden's electoral win was frivolous, unethical, and filed in bad faith. AP reported Wednesday.
The state bar dismisses thousand of grievances each year, and the appellate board overturns those dismissals in fewer than 7 percent of cases.
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The complaint against Paxton was filed by Keith Moran, president of the Galveston Island Democrats. Moran, 71, showed his initial complaint to AP and also a June 3 letter from the Board of Disciplinary Action indicating that Paxton has less than a month to respond. Paxton "wanted to disenfranchise the voters in four other states," Moran told AP. "It's just crazy." He told The Texas Tribune that Paxton should have dropped the suit after legal experts predicted, correctly, that the Supreme Court would just dismiss it. "He wasted my taxpayer money," Moran said.
Bush made a similar argument after launching his bid to unseat Paxton. "It was a Hail Mary pass that every lawyer in the Texas bar and the country knows would not have succeeded, but he followed it anyway," he told reporters. "I get what he was trying to do, but it didn't have a chance in hell of getting an audience at the Supreme Court."
After Paxton's response window closes, bar staff will convene what amounts to a grand jury, with bar investigators allowed to interrogate witnesses, issue subpoenas, and hold hearings, AP reports. If that proceeding determines Paxton likely committed misconduct, there will be a disciplinary process that could result in disbarment, suspension, a lesser punishment, or a determination he did nothing wrong.
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