Oh my God, this is hilarious.
The Republican Party of Texas is suing a lawyer who helped write the state’s recent election reform law and who they claim duped several former Republican candidates into believing they could prove election fraud in Harris County.
The suit, filed Friday in Mitchell County, stems from a spate of election contests filed by Harris County Republican candidates after the 2022 general election. Most of those were dismissed without going to trial, and in one case that did go to trial a judge ruled that county officials made mistakes but “not enough votes were put in doubt to justify voiding the election.”
The new complaint alleges attorney Elizabeth Alvarez lied to 17 candidates that her firm had prepared a “data model” that would have shown that “more than 40,000 voters were suppressed.”
That model “never existed and Defendants were not able to put forth even a scintilla of evidence,” the suit states. “Ultimately, Defendants’ inability to substantively respond to the no evidence motions for summary judgment resulted in each of their remaining clients’ shameful defeat.”
The complaint also alleges that she misrepresented the amount of time it would take for the case to be resolved, her level of expertise in election litigation and her commitment to finishing the case “within an agreed upon budget.” The plaintiffs are seeking to recoup at least the $350,000 that the party paid to the firm and up to $1 million in damages, according to one of their attorneys, Steven J. Mitby.
“They feel that they really got taken advantage of, and we’re trying to get that money back for the donors,” Mitby said.
Alvarez is a prominent election attorney in GOP circles and was instrumental in helping Republican state lawmakers craft a controversial election reform law in 2021 that outlawed 24-hour and drive-thru voting and spurred Democrats to flee to Washington, D.C. to try and derail its passage.
In interviews Wednesday, Alvarez and her co-counsel, Scott Gray, who was also named in the suit, denied the allegations.
They said they never offered a “data model,” but instead had explained that they planned to model their approach after the Department of Justice’s system for evaluating the impact of poll closures as it relates to the Voting Rights Act.
Alvarez and Gray represented a slate of Harris County Republican candidates after the 2022 election, including most prominently Alex Mealer who ultimately lost her challenge to unseat Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat.
Mealer, a lawyer herself, and Alvarez had feuded prior to Mealer dropping her as counsel back in August over filing deadlines and case strategy. Mealer is separately engaged in an arbitration with Alvarez over the same alleged misrepresentations as in the Republican Party suit, Mitby said. Mealer declined to comment.
Alvarez said the party stopped paying her and Gray for their work around February or March and still owes them in the ballpark of a “couple hundred thousand” dollars.
“I’m appalled that they filed suit against us,” said Gray, whose firm, Guest and Gray, is also named as a defendant in the suit. “They’ve got the gall to ask for money from us even though we’ve continued working unpaid to try to help Republican candidates. We’re doing the job the Republican Party of Texas is supposed to do. They’re interfering. For me, as a Republican, it’s sad.”
The party is represented by the lawyers who took over for Alvarez after Mealer fired her. Sartaj Bal, a former Republican judicial candidate and lawyer who also fired Alvarez, chose instead to represent himself.
See here for a bit of background, and here for a deeper cut on Elizabeth Alvarez’s history of questionable election-related lawsuits. I’d totally forgotten about her feud with A**x M****r. This is a gift that keeps on giving.
You can see a copy of the complaint here. The one thing that was not clear to me in reading this story is why the lawsuit was filed in Mitchell County, a place I had never heard of that straddles I-20 between Abilene and Midland. I thought maybe it was because Elizabeth Alvarez lived there, but she appears to live in the Metroplex. If I find out, I’ll update. Reform Austin has more.
UPDATE: An answer to my question:
Because the former executive director of Texas GOP lives there
— Taylor Goldenstein (@taygoldenstein) 5:04 PM – 7 December 2023
Still feels weird to me for it to be filed in such a remote location, but the law is like that sometimes.