Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton violated his budget authority when he transferred $40 million of taxpayer money to cover pay raises for some members of his staff without approval of the Legislature or the governor, triggering an angry response from lawmakers on Wednesday.
“You know that I am not pleased,” Senate Finance chair Jane Nelson told Paxton during a meeting about the state budget. “We have an appropriations process for a reason. And if every agency did what yours did, General Paxton, we wouldn’t have a budget. We wouldn’t even need a budget.”
According to state budget officials, Paxton’s office in February 2020 moved money without authority for various expense items, including $8.5 million that was supposed to go to data center services. Some of that money was moved from capital project funds that are not supposed to be used for pay raises. That was a violation of Paxton’s budget transfer authority, according to officials with the state’s Legislative Budget Board. The money funded raises for 1,884 employees in the child support division.
Nelson, a Republican from Flower Mound, made clear to Paxton it is the Legislature’s authority to consider pay raises from the various state agencies as part of the budget process, and it is not up to agency heads to make that call.
“I wish we had done that one differently,” Paxton conceded.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, also pressed Paxton on the move, seeking assurances that it won’t happen again.
“After knowing more about that situation I would say I’ve instructed my staff to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Paxton said.
See here for some background. That’s some truly harsh language there, I don’t know how he managed to withstand it. I’m all sweaty just reading the transcript. What about the money he wants to spend on fancy outside lawyers for that Google lawsuit?
But that request triggered questions from State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, who pointed out that Paxton has more than 4,000 employees on his staff, including over 700 lawyers.
“Then you have talented lawyers who are capable of handling these big cases, correct?” Huffman asked.
Paxton replied: “If Google is going to have the very best lawyers that know anti-trust, we wanted to be able to compete on the same playing field.”
I guess when you drive off all the best attorneys on your own staff, you have to get creative. I’ll believe that the Senate is holding him accountable when I see what they do with this budget line item.
On a more serious note:
The U.S. Supreme Court was wrong when it refused to allow Texas to sue other states relating to the Nov. 3 that resulted in Joe Biden being elected president, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Wednesday.
Paxton, defending the lawsuit before the Texas Senate, said the U.S. Supreme Court Justices were wrong when they refused to hear his case arguing that other states had violated the Constitution because of the way they conducted their elections. The Supreme Court ruled in early December that Texas did not have the standing to challenge the election results in four battleground states — a conclusion that legal experts across the country had foreseen.
“Our only place to be heard was in the U.S. Supreme Court,” Paxton told the Senate Finance Committee as he defended his proposed budget for the next two years. “I do not think that their jurisprudence is right that they can just have this discretion to not hear your case.”
Under questioning from State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, Paxton said his suit was never about finding election fraud. Instead, he said he was concerned Texas voters were being disenfranchised because other states did not follow federal rules for conducting elections.
“We have no way to go back and even verify whether these elections were credible and whether they were done in a way that wasn’t fraudulent,” Paxton said.
It was President Donald Trump’s lawyers who drafted the lawsuit, the New York Times reported, and Trump’s team turned to Paxton only after Louisiana Attorney General Jeffrey M. Landry, a Republican, declined to take the case. The Times also reported that members of Paxton’s staff argued against filing the suit, and Paxton’s top litigator, Kyle Hawkins, refused to put his name on it.
Hawkins has since resigned.
See here for some background. Sorry, but the smoke pouring out of my ears keeps setting off the fire alarms in our house, so I’m not able to say any more about this. Let me leave you with this as a palate cleanser, and as a song to play on repeat when the FBI finally arrests his sorry ass.
Sea shanties might be over but @KenPaxtonTX’s various legal woes are not. One could argue this is a sequel to Angela Paxton’s famous ballad, Pistol Packin Momma, but this song is called Paxton’s Privateers. I am mortified and very proud
— what’s eating gilbert grace (@gracegilker) 12:10 PM – 10 February 2021
Found that here.