Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing criminal complaints Monday against House impeachment managers who released documents that contained his personal address and triggered what he called threats of violence against his family.
In a statement on Monday, he said the 12 managers “clearly have a desire to threaten me with harm” by releasing the information.
The managers had posted a trove of documents last week that were not considered in the impeachment trial, in which Paxton was acquitted of all charges. They said they had been blocked from including the evidence because of time constraints and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s declining to admit certain records.
Top managers said the records were “inadvertently uploaded” at first. The following morning, they were reposted online with Paxton’s address redacted.
The impeachment managers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Paxton said he would ask district attorneys in the managers’ home counties to pursue prosecution using a new state law that prohibits “doxxing,” or the publishing of private information about a person, often used as a form of cyberbullying.
Paxton is required to disclose his properties’ addresses in annual personal financial disclosure forms, but he has self-redacted them “for security purposes,” even though the law requires him to include it, as Hearst Newspapers has reported.
Certain types of Texas officials, such as law enforcement and judges, have the right to request that counties exclude their personal addresses from appraisal records, according to state law. The attorney general is not one of them.
The new legislation cited by Paxton prohibits posting an individual’s personal information such as a home address or telephone number with the intent to cause harm to that individual or their family.
Paxton said he plans to file the criminal complaints in each of the eight counties represented by the dozen impeachment managers. It is not clear which address is in question. Several of Paxton’s addresses are available through already-published public records, often found online from any location through local municipalities’ appraisal district databases.
House lawyer Rusty Hardin, who prosecuted Paxton, said Monday that the documents released last week contained the same information that was included in other documents that had already been filed or were admitted into the impeachment trial without objection.
He also said that the information about Paxton’s residence is available through public records, and has been for years. Further, he said the release of documents was not conducted with an intent to cause harm to Paxton as he alleged — it was “simply a repeat of public information to anyone that wants to look into it.”
If Paxton makes good on his pledge to file the criminal complaints, Hardin said his Houston law firm will consider countering with a criminal complaint against Paxton for making a false report to police.
“This is the exact kind of bullying, uninformed vengeful act that we predicted if the attorney general was not impeached,” Hardin said. “He’s trying to misuse the criminal justice system to cower and punish people who sought to impeach him under the law. It’s just one more outrageous, vengeful act by a man who has no business being attorney general.”
Here’s the bill’s text, which specifies that the offense must include “the intent to cause harm or a threat of harm to the individual or a member of the individual’s family or household”. The brief exposure of Paxton’s not-exactly-secret home addresses (yes, more than one) looks very much like a temporary screwup, and that is exactly what will be argued if some DA is somehow persuaded to follow through on this. Barring an email trail or a recorded statement of someone explicitly saying that they intended to cause Paxton harm, I just don’t know how you can prove that. And Ken Paxton, whose office also handles criminal prosecutions (not very well, but still), knows this. It’s a complete waste of time, it’s almost certainly going nowhere, and if there’s any intent to cause or threaten harm, it ain’t coming from the House.