'Elections cannot come soon enough': Columnist sounds alarm about 'restoring' Texas attorney general 'to office'
The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) ended with an acquittal by the State Senate on Saturday, with lawmakers deciding nearly "along party lines" that Paxton was innocent of the corruption allegations contained in the sixteen articles that were filed against him earlier this year. But as Daily Beast opinion columnist Joe Jaworski explains on Sunday, Paxton remains the Lone Star State's top law enforcement official "thanks largely to a multi-million dollar juror intimidation campaign paid for by Defend Texas Liberty, a Texas campaign PAC funded largely by oil and gas millionaires Tim Dunn and Faris Wilks."
Jaworski writes, "Dunn and Wilks, through their PAC, made generous contributions to decision-makers, paid for old-school mailers and billboards to intimidate rural Texas senators sitting as jurors in the Texas Senate Court of Impeachment, and set aside a handsome budget to pay $50 a tweet to eligible social media trolls who tweeted or posted pro-Paxton propaganda. It was common in the weeks leading up to and during the two-week trial to see hundreds of freshly enrolled members of the X community (with fewer than ten followers) who robustly defended their martyred MAGA attorney general."
Jaworski recalls that "Presiding Judge Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (he's neither a lawyer nor a judge) collected a $1 million dollar campaign contribution and a $2 million forgivable loan from Defend Texas Liberty back in June before the trial, and inquiring minds want to know what the loan terms are. Whatever the terms, one thing is for sure: If the campaign contribution was made by its donors to encourage a certain outcome, and to advertise the power of their purse for any senators who stray off script, the contributions seem to have had the desired effect."
Paxton's troubles are far from over, however. Although he survived politically, Paxton still faces indictments for alleged "felony securities fraud and will be tried for those crimes next year in Harris County," Jaworski notes. Paxton is "being investigated by a federal grand jury in San Antonio for felony bribery and abuse of office based on the same facts as those the Texas Senate considered; and the Texas State Bar has sued to disbar him."
Nonetheless, Jaworski continues, Paxton's plan is to emulate former President Donald Trump "to become the Make America Great Again hero he aspires to be."
Paxton intends "to partner with his donors and punish anyone who supported his impeachment," Jaworski observes. "The Texas Republican Party's civil war, which began in earnest two cycles ago, will take on a new, more obnoxious tone. The need to pronounce oneself as fully aligned with MAGA conservative culture warrior dogma will be a prerequisite to success in Republican primary politics. No longer will this extremism be merely an internecine political affair, it will, for the immediate future, become state policy and do great damage to the Texas government and its people. The product of this extremism will have consequences for all our public affairs in Texas and nationally."
With that in mind, Jaworski believes that "Elections cannot come soon enough. It will be important to test how the voters feel about restoring a man like Paxton to office. Democrats will do well to remind independent-minded voters of the facts," adding, "Paxton's behavior that led to his impeachment wasn't about promoting conservative values or beating the Democrats at the ballot box. It was about concealing his corrupt relationships. Paxton wasn't fighting for you or me; he was fighting to save his political career."
Jaworski's editorial is available at this link (subscription required).
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