Messin’ With Texas

I don’t know what Texas pays its attorney general, but however much it is, it’s clearly too much.

The Texas AG since 2014 is named Ken Paxton, and we here in Gunnison County are already familiar with his affinity for spurious lawsuits and his inclination to do favors for his donors. Taking care of the actual legal business needs of Texas appears to not require full-time attention, and if I were a Texan (perish the thought), I would be asking for my money back. Or at least for an attorney general who focuses on the job at hand. Rumors list one candidate two years down the road (which means the campaigning must have started a year ago) to be George P. Bush, son of Jeb.

Or maybe the current AG will be shamed out of his position, although as we have seen in the last couple of months, there are no depths to which the remnants of the once Grand Old Party will not sink.

[I would like to note that my representative, Scott Tipton, R-Colo. 3, did not sign onto the Republican party stunt instigated by the attorney general.]

AG Paxton seems to be a rather shameless sort anyhow, once shilling for a computer hardware company without telling investors he was being paid to promote the company. He was in the Texas legislature at the time, and glibly voted in favor of a bill that would make such an action a felony. If others did it instead of him, I suppose.

After he won re-election as attorney general in 2018, by only three percentage points, much closer than his first win four years previously, the fall-out got worse: three of his top deputies have accused him of accepting bribes.

While he insists he’s innocent, there is the “Gunnison blemish” clearly etched on his 2020 record — even before we get to his spectacular flame-out yesterday.

Back in March or April, you may recall, having had the opportunity to read about it in these very pixels, Gunnison County officials sent out an ill-advised and not-well-worded postcard to everyone deemed to be a second-, third- or even fourth-estate homeowner, telling them they were barred from coming to the property they owned due to our limited hospital and emergency services personnel capacity.

Some people took umbrage, including one second-homeowner who appears to be very tight with Mr. Attorney General. I believe, these many months later, that this same second-homeowner then tried to buy the Gunnison County election, but that worked even less well than holding the ear, or pocketbook, of the Texas AG.

But back in March or April, when AG Paxton was his usual sue-happy optimistic self, he deputized a deputy to threaten our humble county with a lawsuit if we didn’t allow our Texas landholders back in pronto. Our deputy county attorney, who will become the Big Kahuna next month, sent a polite and heavy-on-case-law reply that essentially said, “Bring on your spurious suit. We both know you’ll lose.”

And Texas slunk quietly away. Except for Second-Homeowner Moran, who then dropped tens of thousands on an election he couldn’t even vote in and whose county commissioner candidates got 33 percent of the vote. I’m hoping that some of the local vote was repudiation of this attempt by “big money” to take over our little election.

But the Texas AG doesn’t appear to have learned much from his failure, and it may have been part of the process whereby his deputies decided he was not necessarily putting the interests of Texas ahead of himself.

“Improper influence, abuse of office and bribery.” Those were the charges leveled by those who worked for him, some of them then adding that their whistleblower status resulted in them being fired. No one appears to have mentioned the Gunnison influence; they primarily seemed focused on a real estate developer (no, not that one — not yet) who then turned around and hired, on AG Paxton’s recommendation, a woman with whom the AG was allegedly having an affair.

This just gets grander by the minute, doesn’t it?

So now we’re into federal-crime territory and AG Paxton, apparently an opportunist from way back, realized there was one person — a person who has been taking his calls for many months, if not years — who just might be in a position to help him. At least, he had a title in front of his name, even if he didn’t wear it very well.

So the attorney general of Texas, allegedly not content with his public servant’s salary of what I am sure is six good figures and taking pay to play, and apparently with no actual work on his plate from the State of Texas, decided to take up the cause de rigueur.

But with no actual election fraud available to claim (been there, done that, epic fail), he tried the Texas Fallback: “You done wronged mah friend, so you should disenfranchise the voters of four states not Texas — because I’m Texas and I say so.”

Even though the legal leg he was standing on probably impressed the deputy, soon-to-be county attorney of Gunnison County even less than the off-kilter threat from this spring, this did not stop AG Paxton from bearing up under the weight of pile-on: 17 attorneys general (perhaps alleged attorneys general) and 126 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (but not Scott Tipton, which I think ought to count for something) joined his lawsuit.

[At what point do you suppose it might occur to these morons that if the votes from their own states get thrown out, that ought to include their victories as well?]

But all the king’s horse and all the king’s men were never going to put this cracked egg back together again, because you just can’t fix someone that scrambled.

The Supreme Court wasted little time and fewer words in dispatching this case, which was never going to hold water in court, if we’re taking the charitable route, or was seditious if we’re taking the actual route, and I suppose this saves the Colorado attorney general the time and trouble of suing to overturn the results of the elections in Texas and Florida simply because I, a constituent who gave him no money, didn’t like the outcomes.

But I imagine AG Paxton will get what he was ultimately after. I was going to say, “What’s coming to him,” which could still happen for anything he did illegally at the state level or perhaps just at the ballot box in a couple of years. But cynical people — not that I know any — think that perhaps, particularly in light of the timing of his spectacularly flopped lawsuit (shouldn’t that make him a LOSER?), the end goal was not really to overturn an election for his good buddy, but to garner a pardon from same said good buddy.

Because that appears to be what AG Paxton has done for much of his career: grease those skids. Maybe this time the skids will be so slippery he’ll slide right on out of office. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving fellow.

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