Texas AG Paxton under the Microscope

It seems fair to say that statewide Texas politicians of the Republican variety are having some legal troubles.

Some of them have led to full-blown legal proceedings, like former Governor Rick Perry’s pending criminal charge, the civil fine against Attorney General Ken Paxton from the Texas State Securities Board (for an incident that occurred before he was elected), and the criminal securities fraud complaint filed against AG Paxton by Texans for Public Justice (which goes before a grand jury soon).

Some have remained in the realm of allegations and suspicions, like current Governor Greg Abbott’s alleged misconduct with regard to the Texas Enterprise Fund when he was Attorney General. I’m not sure if any formal complaints are currently pending against Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick—which is not to say he hasn’t had complaints (PDF file) before—but he sure does know how to stir people up.

"SCOTUS Marriage Equality 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges) - 26 June 2015" by Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA (SCOTUS Marriage Equality 2015 58151) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Most recently notorious, I’d say, is AG Paxton’s official opinion (PDF file here or here), issued on June 28, 2015 in response to a request from LG Patrick, regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and the Fifth Circuit’s order affirming that ruling in De Leon v. Abbott. Continue reading


Greg Abbott isn’t saying much, and that can only help him

I made a Storify about Greg Abbott’s campaign strategy (major h/t to Andrea Grimes), which involves not saying much and doing a bit of gaslighting. Continue reading


Uninsured in Texas? Try the Federal Government, Says Greg Abbott

Greg Abbott hosted a forum on his website a few days ago with some policy advisors, and according to Joe Deshotel at Burnt Orange Report, his answers regarding regarding healthcare for the millions of Texans who lack health insurance in the present moment were less than mind-blowing:

To sum it up, Abbott does not support expanding Medicaid or creating and operating our own health care exchange, yet wants more flexibility from the federal government. If you can not afford health insurance, or you don’t have enough to put away in a Health Savings Account, check out the federal government and see what they have to offer! In the meantime the number one campaign issue will continue to be “repealing Obamacare,” and it says so right on his website.

Is anyone surprised by this? You shouldn’t be.


Stop Trying to Make “Hail Satan” Happen, Greg Abbott (UPDATED)

Greg Abbott never could decide exactly how to respond to the stunt planned by his former staffer, Lorenzo Garcia, who is currently the UT chapter chair of Young Conservatives of Texas. As Joe Deshotel describes at Burnt Orange Report, he first threw Garcia under the bus, but then decided this was a good opportunity for political cheap shots. Most notable, of course, was his attempt to resurrect the “Hail Satan” nontroversy from this summer. He couldn’t even do that right, of course, claiming that it was a series of chants during Wendy Davis’ filibuster. It actually occurred during the protests that started with the second special session, and by all appearances it was actually a handful (at most) of kids who clearly did not realize that many people would actually take them seriously.

I tried to find any media coverage of the incident that wasn’t overblown and sensational. U.S. News and World Report called it heckling, which seems fair. The Blaze offered a grudgingly fair assessment with a shout-out to the nutters: “Obviously, it is much more likely that the abortion supporters were chanting ‘Hail Satan!’ to mock pro-lifers rather than actually hailing Lucifer, but anything is possible.” Of course, Natural News (via Infowars, of course), let the crazy fly:

Obviously, not all abortion activists are Satan worshippers, but you’ll notice that none of them have denounced the Satanists, either. By failing to denounce it, they effectively embrace and welcome Satan worship as part of their cause. [Emphasis in original.]

Somewhat hilariously, the episode drew the ire of actual Satanists: Continue reading


Wendy Davis Totes Saved Greg Abbott on Election Day…..Or Did She?

Domenichino [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsTexas Attorney General, presumptive 2014 Republican gubernatorial nominee, and general dweeb Greg Abbott might not have been allowed to vote Tuesday because of a voter ID law that he vigorously endorsed. His driver’s license has a different name than his voter registration. One says “Greg Abbott,” while the other says “Gregory Wayne Abbott.” Since we have to ensure that people have the same name on both documents (or else the terrorists win or something), this would have prevented him from voting altogether, but for an amendment to the law from State Senator and 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Her amendment allows a person to vote anyway if they sign an affidavit confirming that both names are correct.

Of course, in-person voter fraud is not exactly an epidemic. One of the most prominent organizations supporting voter ID laws, True the Vote, states on their page “The Reality of Voter Fraud,” that “64 percent of Americans believe voter fraud is a serious problem.” Note that this is an opinion poll, not a statistic on actual investigations or convictions for actual voter fraud. The page goes on to cite more opinion polls, mostly Fox News and Rasmussen, but no actual statistics that would, you know, show actual voter fraud. They do add in a bit of anecdata, with the obligatory slam on ACORN, and a single incidence of alleged voter fraud, Hazel Woodard James of Forth Worth. James was indicted for conspiracy to arrange in-person voter fraud in May 2012:

Hazel Woodard James, 40, is accused of arranging for her son — who was not a registered voter — to vote on behalf of his father. The incident reportedly came to light when the father showed up later in the day to vote in the same precinct, 1211, for which James is now running to be chairwoman.

Now, I’m not trying to minimize the severity of the allegations against James, in part because I don’t think the severity can get much more minimal. Allegedly illegal, of course, but not exactly cause for a major overhaul of the voting system.

I tried to find any information on James’ case after early May 2012, but nothing comes up in a Google search, the Tarrant County Clerk (which would have the case if it is a misdemeanor) has no records, and the District Clerk (if it’s a felony) does not have online search capability. I don’t know if she was convicted or acquitted, if she entered a plea, if the state dismissed the case, or even if the state ever pursued a case in the first place. The news media saying she was “indicted” doesn’t tell me much of anything. I will try to follow up on this. At any rate, Greg Abbott does not have the best track record when it comes to identifying actual convictions for voter fraud in Texas, and neither do other proponents of voter ID laws.

My theory, which I completely made up from my own imagination, is that Greg Abbott wanted to get turned away at the polls, which would make him a martyr to the cause of fighting in-person voter fraud. Wendy Davis screwed all of that up, though. He would have proudly ridden across the plains of Texas, tilting at the mighty windmills of fraudulent voters for the greater cause of liberty—if it weren’t for that meddling Wendy. I say we should support Greg Abbott in his quixotic quest, perhaps by encouraging him to do something about Texas’ serious unicorn problem.

Photo credit: Domenichino [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


Texas Monthly is playing it safe

The latest issue of Texas Monthly arrived in the mail today:


I really can’t blame the magazine for adhering to the “red state” paradigm. Progressives are generally viewed as mythical beings in Texas, except when they are making too much noise to ignore. Besides that, the editors have better things to do than sift through the petabytes of psychotic, barely-literate RWNJ screeds that would follow anything remotely nice about liberals and progressives. A Greg Abbott victory might not actually be inevitable, but an onslaught of keyboard poundings from the mouth-breathing class most certainly is.