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Chron calls on Paxton to step down

The Chronicle’s editorial board would like for Ken Paxton to get the hell out of Dodge already.

Best mugshot ever

Best mugshot ever

Like any other defendant, the state’s chief legal and law-enforcement officer deserves the presumption of innocence. At the same time, the people of Texas deserve an agency head who can focus full-time on his duties. It’s hard to see how an elected official fighting to avoid a long-term lease on a cell in Huntsville can run a major state agency responsible for representing the state of Texas in court, pursuing child-support payments and, yes, prosecuting white-collar crime of the sort he himself may have committed. It’s also hard to see how his staff can enjoy going to work every morning when their boss is accused of violating the very laws they have sworn to uphold.

The time has come for Paxton to step down.

Meanwhile, Texas voters need to own up to their complicity in this messy matter. They spurned better qualified candidates in both parties and followed the zeal and persuasiveness of hard-right ideologues – including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz – over a legal and ethical cliff. They chose Paxton even though his legal plight already was well known, even though he virtually disappeared from the campaign trail in the final weeks to avoid hard questions and even though law-enforcement groups began withdrawing their endorsements as more about the allegations came to light. Paxton’s election is the most glaring sign that internal turmoil, competing factions and corruption are beginning to take their toll on a party that’s held almost absolute power in the state for more than two decades.

A former Texas attorney general – Paxton’s predecessor, in fact – has the power to persuade Paxton to do the right thing. Gov. Greg Abbott should insist that he resign and then should appoint a solid conservative with impeccable legal and ethical credentials to take charge of the agency. For the good of the state, for the long-term health of the Republican Party in Texas, Ken Paxton has to go.

Paxton is now the subject of a second special prosecutor’s investigation, which is what prompted this no-love note. I have no interest in helping save the Republican Party from itself, so it’s fine by me if Paxton continues to stick around and stink up the joint. As I’ve said before, I can totally picture him on the 2018 ballot, even after having been convicted. Sure, Greg Abbott could do what the Chron wants him to do here, but why would he? The only things Abbott does are things that Republicans really like, and right now you can count on one hand the number of recognizable Republicans that have suggested Paxton is bad news, and still have fingers left over. He ain’t going anywhere any time soon.

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