While millions of Texans languished in their homes last week without heat, many of them racking up astronomical electricity bills, the state official in charge of consumer protection left to take an out-of-state trip.
According to a campaign spokesman, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton left the state during the middle of the power outage crisis to meet with a fellow attorney general in Utah for a “previously planned meeting.” Hs wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, was also on the trip, reported the Dallas Morning News, which first broke the story.
The revelation marks the third instance of a Texas public official leaving the state during the disaster that affected nearly every one of the state’s 254 counties.
Ken Paxton spokesman Ian Prior said that Paxton met with Utah AG Sean Reyes to discuss several matters, including their multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Google.
Reyes’ spokesman Richard Piatt confirmed that Paxton was in Salt Lake City for meetings on Wednesday and Friday, and had “lengthy discussions” on the Google case.
Prior said Paxton also attended a demonstration of Utah’s law enforcement scenario simulator, which includes a wide variety of situations law enforcement must deal with and is used for training. He said Paxton is considering the program for Texas. Reyes said that meeting would have taken place in the suburb of Murray, about a 15-minute drive away.
“While there, AG Paxton had a number of meetings with the Utah Attorney General over the course of several days,” Prior said. “I cannot further share additional details or the specific reasons on the need for the meeting concerning Google as it involves an ongoing investigation.”
Prior did not respond to questions about the timing of the Paxton’s trip, why the trip was not postponed or whether taxpayers funded the trip.
I’ll bet he didn’t. Not likely to be any good answers to those questions. Oh, and did we mention that Mrs. Paxton, a/k/a State Sen. Angela Paxton, was also there?
On the day of Paxton’s Wednesday meeting, the state’s electrical grid operator reported 2.7 million households in Texas remained without power. Water infrastructure in many cities was also being strained. By Thursday, nearly half the state had had its water disrupted in some way. Many lost running water altogether, while others were issued boil-water notices.
“AG Paxton did lose power, but did not leave Texas until after power had returned to most of the state, including his own home,” Prior said in a statement.
Follow up questions about whether the attorney general was back in Texas on Monday were not answered.
A spokesperson for Angela Paxton confirmed that she was also on the trip, which she said “included meetings that benefit her efforts to promote human dignity and support law enforcement.”
While away, Ken Paxton’s office did send a handful of advisories about his office’s plans to investigate the Electric Reliability Council of Texas — the state’s grid operator — “and other entities that grossly mishandled this week’s extreme winter weather.”
“We will get to the bottom of this power failure and I will tirelessly pursue justice for Texans,” he said in a press release Friday. The release made no mention of his whereabouts.
I’m sure you’re aware that I have a very low opinion of the Paxtons, as I do of Ted Cruz and all the other malfunctioning members of our Republican state government who have no call to service. But even I would have expected them to have slightly better political instincts than this. State Rep. Chris Turner speaks for me:
He was in Utah for a meeting?
Does @KenPaxtonTX not have a Zoom account?
In a week when there were multiple reports of price gouging, the top official charged with consumer protection was out of state.
And he wants his budget increased? #txlege
— Chris Turner (@ChrisGTurner) 12:24 PM – 22 February 2021
I don’t begrudge people a certain amount of business travel, but come on. This very easily could have been done remotely, and let’s not forget we are still in a pandemic, which makes any kind of air travel highly questionable at this time. And all of that is before the refusal to answer questions about the specifics of this little jaunt. What is wrong with these people? The Current has more.