DALLAS (AFP) – The Texas Bar Association filed a lawsuit Wednesday to penalize state Attorney General Ken Paxton for his failed effort to nullify the 2020 presidential election based on bogus allegations of fraud, raising a new legal risk for the Republican the day after it was secured. The party’s nomination for a third term.
The state bar association has asked the Dallas District Court to impose unspecified discipline on the state’s chief attorney, alleging that Paxton’s petition to the US Supreme Court to block President Biden’s victory was “dishonest.” The formal accusation of professional misconduct makes Paxton one of the leading lawyers facing a potential threat to their legal license for their role in former President Trump’s efforts to delegitimize his defeat.
The petition came to Collin County Courthouse the day after Paxton defeated Texas Commissioner George B. Bush in the Republican runoff. This victory sets him up for a general election competition with Rochelle Garza, a South Texas Democrat and civil rights attorney, as Paxton also faces a trial on state fraud charges and a separate FBI investigation prompted by criminal charges from the attorney general’s special staff.
Philip Helder, one of Paxton’s attorneys, declined to comment.
Lawyers have been investigating complaints about Paxton’s election suit since last summer, and opened similar disciplinary proceedings against his senior vice president earlier in May. Paxton this month predicted the bar association would seek to discipline him, calling it a “liberal activist group,” and said he was behind his challenge to the “unconstitutional presidential election of 2020”.
A spokesperson for the Bar Association, a branch of the Texas Supreme Court, declined to comment. The group said earlier that “partisan political considerations do not play any role” in its actions.
When suing an attorney, the union can request a penalty that ranges from a written warning to suspension or removal. The disciplinary process is similar to a trial and can include both sides giving testimony and obtaining records through discovery.
The Bar Association’s complaint against Paxton alleges he “misrepresented” the facts before the Supreme Court in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Biden’s victory. The lawsuit was supported by Trump. The Supreme Court dropped the lawsuit, and the Trump-era Justice Department found no evidence of fraud that could have altered the outcome of the election.
Before winning the nomination on Tuesday, Paxton faced an unusual number of initial challenges after eight of his top lawmakers told the FBI in 2020 that the attorney general was using his position to benefit a wealthy donor. The eight, who eventually resigned or were fired, charged him with bribery, abuse of office and other crimes that prompted an ongoing federal investigation.
Paxton has denied wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty separately in a government securities fraud case that has been in place since 2015.