Lawsuit seeking January 6 emails from Abbott and Paxton can proceed

There’s a lot of lawsuits out there against the state and/or the likes of Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton. I do my best to be aware of them and keep track of them, but inevitably some things get lost in the whirlwind. This was one of them.

A crook any way you look

A lawsuit to force two Texas leaders to release years of their emails, including about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, can move forward thanks to a Wednesday appeals court decision.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that Attorney General Ken Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott did not make the case for the lawsuit against them to be thrown out.

The decision was a major win for American Oversight, the Washington-DC based nonprofit that sued for access to the records after being rebuffed by the state. The group’s executive director called the decision “a tremendous victory for transparency.”

“American Oversight is seeking records related to matters of significant public interest and the appeals court was correct to reject this effort to evade accountability. We hope that Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton will stop their delay and finally release these records to the public,” Heather Sawyer said in a statement.


American Oversight filed the lawsuit in June 2022 after unsuccessfully requesting communications from the two Texas leaders. The group wanted access to years of Abbott and Paxton’s communications, including both men’s emails with NRA officials and Paxton’s emails in the days around Jan. 6, 2021.

Paxton attended and spoke at the pro-Donald Trump rally before the attack on the U.S. Capitol that year. The attorney general has declined to say who paid for his trip to DC, and has refused to release his communications from before, during and after the event.

Abbott and Paxton said their offices did not have any communications with NRA officials. They refused to release the other records, citing rules protecting confidential communications with attorneys and discussions about pending lawsuits.

In their response to the lawsuit, they argued that only the Texas Supreme Court could compel the attorney general to act in this instance. They also said no court could force the governor’s hand in this case.

A lower court said these arguments did not hold water.

On Wednesday, the appeals court justices agreed, and also rejected Abbott and Paxton’s arguments that the lawsuit should be tossed because they released some very limited records in response to American Oversight’s requests.

A copy of the opinion is here. I’ve looked through my archives and I don’t see any previous mention of this lawsuit, though I do have posts about news organizations and the January 6 committee trying to get comms from him (unsuccessfully so far, I presume) and an accusation that he was violating state open records laws, which ultimately went nowhere. I can’t say I’m optimistic about this one, given everything that’s happened so far, but it ain’t over till it’s over. I’ll try to keep up from this point on.

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