Dispatches from Dallas, June 2 edition

This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.

In DFW-area news this week, we’ll be talking about Ken Paxton, who’s local to Collin County, updates on the Dallas ransomware problem, trouble in the Dallas County juvenile department, and the outlet mall in Allen reopens. Plus, two baby giraffes!

We’ll start with a nice backgrounder from our local NPR station about Paxton’s history, his embrace of the Tea Party, and his shady financial dealings, much of which will be old news to long-time readers of this blog. Also worth a review is this Texas Observer piece from 2018 that explains how Paxton had managed to avoid trial until then. The short version is that Paxton is tight with the reactionary Republican cabal that runs Collin County, including DA Greg Willis (whom you may remember for recently settling a sexual harassment lawsuit). And as you also probably know, Paxton’s wife Angela is a state senator, having been elected for a second term to her husband’s old seat, and will be a juror in her husband’s trial unless she recuses herself.

Meanwhile, in other DFW connections to this case, here’s a piece about Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, who was a member of the House General Investigating Committee that brought the charges. Geren will also serve as an impeachment manager in the Senate, as part of a committee of twelve representatives including Jeff Leach of Plano and Morgan Meyer of University Park (my own representative). As noted in the Fort Worth Report article, Paxton threatened the members of the committee. Given that, as noted in the Observer article I linked above, Paxton’s friends at Empower Texas primaried out the judge who appointed the special prosecutors in his original case, this may not be an entirely idle threat. The backlash against Paxton’s impeachment has already started: the Collin County GOP already claims that Paxton wasn’t impeached properly(Archive link). And of course the former President had a lot to say about the impeachment as well. Expect more of this kind of talk between now and the trial.

The DMN has an analysis of how the Paxton case points to divisions inside the Republican party in Texas in 2024 (Archive link) and as the Washington Post link about TFG demonstrates, removing Paxton has national implications. It hasn’t been a major point in the impeachment discussion, but Paxton is a big defender of the Big Lie (relevant older stories at Mother Jones & the Texas Tribune) and in case you want to hear about his work making it harder to vote in Texas from the man himself, here’s a minute of Paxton talking to Steve Bannon (youtube) where he says if he hadn’t been able to block mail-in ballots, Trump would have lost Texas in 2020. Personally, I don’t believe that, but it’s key to understanding why TFG is pro-Paxton.

As an aside, related to all this discussion of voting and suppression is HB 1243, which makes illegal voting a felony again and is on Greg Abbott’s desk for signature.

From Dallas, which is the last surviving redoubt of Business Republicans of any size and is also in spitting distance of the Collin County crew, it’s easy to see how the impeachment and trial will only exacerbate the divisions between the Business/Country Club folks and the True Believers/Trumpists. Paxton has looked unstoppable for years and everyone who’s taken a shot at him has missed. Something that happened in this session (possibly 3.3 million somethings) made the Business Republicans decide it was finally worth it to take Paxton on; part of that had to be signals that statewide leadership was willing to let Paxton go.

Or maybe it’s all some twelve-dimensional chess move by Dan Patrick to take down Greg Abbott by getting him to back impeachment while Patrick saves Paxton in the Senate. No matter what it is, I’m going to be sitting back with popcorn watching angry Republicans going at each other over Ken Paxton all summer.

In other news:

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