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


A Special Prosecutor Will Be Looking at Rick Perry and the Public Integrity Unit

Via empireonline.com

Via empireonline.com

A senior district judge from San Antonio announced that he will name a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of “abuse of official capacity” and other charges against Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Texans for Public Justice filed a complaint against Perry with the Travis County District Attorney and the Travis County Attorney in June. Perry had threatened to withhold funding for the Public Integrity Unit (PIU), which investigates allegations of official misconduct, unless Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg resigned in the wake of her DWI conviction. (Perry may have had other reasons to want the PIU shut down.) Perry eventually vetoed funding for the PIU.

That veto took away about $3.7 million from the PIU. The Travis County Commissioners’ Court voted in early August to use $1.8 million of Travis County (not Texas) taxpayers’ money, plus over $700,000 “from another fund,” to keep the PIU going. This gave Lehmberg the opportunity to “scold” Perry. Continue reading


Texas Made Its Bed, and Now It Has to Lie in It

West_Explosion_AerialAfter FEMA denied the state’s request for aid for the West fertilizer plant explosion, Texas Governor Rick Perry had the gall to say the following:

The day of the West memorial service, President Obama stood in front of a grieving community and told them they would not be forgotten. He said his administration would stand with them, ready to help. We anticipate the president will hold true to his word and help us work with FEMA to ensure much-needed assistance reaches the community of West.

Rick Perry is not a man to mince words about his disdain for the federal government when it suits his momentary needs. He has no right to act surprised all of a sudden when that same government refuses to help the man who has said time and again that his state doesn’t need them (except, of course, when he does need them).

This is really about a Texas business avoiding regulatory obligations, killing a bunch of people through neglect, and then asking the feds to help clean up. They should be begging OSHA for forgiveness, not asking FEMA for money. If “freedom” from regulation is a Texas value, the rebuilding of West’s infrastructure is the cost Texas hoped to pass on to the rest of the country.

I’m reminded of the talk after the Oklahoma tornado about whether we, as a people, should support relief efforts there even though Oklahomans keep electing people who have nothing but contempt for the very notion of government aid until the moment they need some. My position was, and still is, that we owe them assistance and relief, but that we should not let them forget that their own elected representatives would probably deny it to them had they but lived a few hundred miles in any direction.

Now that the federal government is denying aid to a state that elected a guy who gives lip service to secession, a big part of me wants to say I told you so. Well, I guess I just said it. If so many Texans are so unenamored of the federal government, let us all lie in the bed they made.

Shorter version of what I just said: if you voted for Rick Perry and dare to say anything other than “we don’t need FEMA anyway,” you deserve to get punched in the throat.

One final thought: sooner or later, the lawsuits will start rolling in against West Fertilizer Company and whomever else might be civilly liable, asserting injury claims, wrongful death, and property damage. The odds are very good that Rick Perry will call these suits “frivolous,” or seek to undermine them in some other way. It’s fine to expect the nation’s taxpayers to foot the bill in Perryland, but I’m not so sure the private sector should ever have to pony up.

Photo credit: By Shane.torgerson [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.