Texas AG Ken Paxton will be sued by the State Bar over his 2020 election challenge

DALLAS (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Friday that the state bar is planning to sue him for his failed efforts to nullify the 2020 presidential election based on false allegations of fraud, which which raises another legal danger as the embattled Republican is locked up. primary runoff.

Since last summer, the Texas State Bar has been investigating complaints about Paxton’s petition to the United States Supreme Court to block President Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump. The group has not publicly filed a lawsuit against Paxton, but on Friday asked an Austin-area court to impose unspecified discipline on a member of its staff for alleged professional misconduct in the lawsuit. electoral.

Paxton Deputy Principal Brent Webster was “dishonest” and made “misrepresentations” in asking the Supreme Court to overturn the election, according to the bar’s complaint in a Williamson County court. Webster did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Paxton said he supported his challenge to the “unconstitutional 2020 presidential election”, as he lambasted the bar and announced an investigation into a charity group associated with him.

“I am certain that not only will the bar lose, but it will be fully exposed for what it is: a group of liberal activists posing as a neutral professional association,” Paxton said on Twitter.

The bar, which is a branch of the Texas Supreme Court, said in a statement that “partisan political considerations play no role” in its actions. State law prohibits him from discussing the investigations unless a public complaint is filed and a spokesperson has declined to comment.

In taking legal action against a lawyer, the bar can seek a penalty ranging from a written warning to suspension or disbarment. The disciplinary process resembles a trial and could include both parties taking testimony and obtaining records by way of discovery.

The bar complaints against Paxton alleged that his request to the United States Supreme Court to void the 2020 election was frivolous and unethical. The high court dismissed the case, and Trump’s own Justice Department found no evidence of fraud that could have changed the election outcome.

Paxton planned the legal action against him in the final weeks of his Republican primary runoff against State Lands Commissioner George P. Bush.

A two-term holder, Paxton drew an unusual number of senior challenges after eight of his top aides told the FBI in 2020 that the attorney general used his office to benefit a wealthy donor. They charged him with bribery, abuse of power, and other crimes, prompting an ongoing federal investigation.

Paxton has denied wrongdoing and separately pleaded not guilty in a state securities fraud case that has languished since 2015. His attorney, Philip Hilder, declined to comment.

Shortly after he said the bar planned to prosecute him, Paxton’s office announced it would investigate the Texas Bar Foundation for “possibly aiding and abetting the mass influx of illegal aliens.” The charity group’s board of directors is partially appointed by the president.

In a one-page letter, the attorney general’s office said the foundation had “knowingly made donations to entities that encourage, participate in, and fund illegal immigration to the Texas-Mexico border.” The letter does not name the entities.

Texas Bar Foundation president-elect Alistair Dawson said in a statement that she was “extremely disappointed” to learn of Paxton’s investigation, but would cooperate nonetheless.

“If AG Paxton had taken the time to come and talk to us rather than issue a press release, I’m confident he wouldn’t have found any wrongdoing on the part of the foundation,” Dawson said.

Gary Ratner, an attorney with Lawyers Defending American Democracy who filed one of the complaints against Paxton, declined to comment. Kevin Moran, a Democratic Party activist in Galveston, who brought in another, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

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