Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday appointed Fort Worth lawyer and former Secretary of State John Scott as interim Texas attorney general, temporarily replacing Ken Paxton, who was suspended as attorney general pending the outcome of an impeachment trial in the state Senate.
Scott previously served as deputy attorney general for civil litigation when Abbott led that office. He has more than 34 years of legal experience and has argued more than 100 cases in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. After leaving the attorney general’s office, he was appointed chief operating officer of the state Health and Human Services Commission, overseeing 56,000 employees and a budget of $50 billion.
“John Scott has the background and experience needed to step in as a short-term interim Attorney General during the time the Attorney General has been suspended from duty,” Abbott said in a statement. “He served under me in the Texas Attorney General’s Office and knows how the Office of the Attorney General operates.”
Abbott tapped Scott to serve as secretary of state in October 2021. Before leaving the job in December 2022, Scott oversaw elections and struggled to simultaneously assure the public that Texas elections were secure while mollifying those, including supporters of former President Donald Trump, who alleged widespread fraud.
Many feared Scott would be amenable to Trump’s argument that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud because Scott briefly represented the former president in a lawsuit challenging the election results in Pennsylvania.
But a 2020 audit of results in four of the largest Texas counties that Scott managed found no widespread fraud or voting irregularities. Local elections administrators, many in populous Democratic counties, praised him for defending their work at a time when they had increasingly come under partisan attack.
I’ve said a few things about John Scott in the past, and I stand by them. But having said them, it is important to remember that we are now comparing him not to the AG we want and deserve, but to the AG we had and the guy who was filling in for him before now. By that measure, he mostly merits a shrug and a “meh, could have been worse”. He’ll be on the job for maybe four months max, so he’s more substitute teacher than anything else. I suppose Abbott could appoint him as the replacement if Paxton gets convicted by the Senate, but I don’t see him as the top choice there. On a side note, I wonder if previous-temporary-AG Brent Webster was caught by surprise by this. A little drama in these matters is never unwelcome. Anyway, this is fine, as far as “fine” goes these days. TPM and Reform Austin have more.