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Tag: ken paxton

Texas Schools Are Defying Abbott's Mask Ban-- And Winning

In July, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) fanned the flames of the GOP culture war against mask mandates, signing an executive order that barred government agencies, including school districts, from requiring masks to quell the rapid spread of the delta variant. Luckily, schools in the Lone Star State fought back, and a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court may have finally put the nonsensical and dangerous ban of mask mandates to rest-- after the court struck it down earlier this week.

The decision to rescind the order was based on a technicality, not the legality of the rule, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the state's high court to overturn a bevy of temporary restraining orders that allowed schools to mandate masks. Since a state appellate court didn't get the chance to hear the case, the Supreme Court left those restraining orders in place.

And on Thursday, the Texas Education Agency announced they would stop enforcing the ban due to "ongoing litigation," adding, "Further guidance will be made available after the court issues are resolved."

This has left many to question how long the win for Texas schools will last. But legal challenges aren't the only way schools can require masks, as one clever Texas school district found.

Paris Independent School District made masks a part of their dress code, and they note in a statement that "nothing in the Governor's Executive Order 38 states he has suspended Chapter 11 of the Texas Education Code, and therefore the Board has elected to amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority."

Texas Republicans are battling masks while the state struggles to contain the virus. The Texas Tribune reports, "Out of nearly 12,000 people hospitalized with COVID in Texas on Monday, more than a quarter of them are in the state's ICU beds." NPR adds, "With more than 16,000 new daily cases, Texas is one of the states with the highest risk of COVID-19."

Abbott should know firsthand just how threatening the Delta variant is, as the fully vaccinated governor tested positive for COIVD-19 on Tuesday. And guess what? Per the New York Times, Abbott attended several crowded events in the days leading up to his positive test, and "photographs from the events show that few of those who met with the governor wore masks, and neither did Mr. Abbott."

Breakthrough cases like Abbott's are occurring, but public health officials note that the vaccines are still proving effective at reducing the severity of COVID-19. Masking up is another simple and effective way to slow the spread of the virus -- and as the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 hits record highs, they are an absolute necessity at schools.

Texas Attorney General Admits Voter Suppression Saved State For Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

One need only compare now-President Joe Biden's losses in Texas in 2020 to his losses in Idaho or Wyoming to see that Texas has gone from deep red to light red. Biden lost Texas by six percent; he lost Wyoming by 43 percent, Idaho by 30 percent, and North Dakota by 43 percent. Nonetheless, the Democratic Party has, historically, had a turnout problem in the Lone Star State; Democrats are going to need a heavier turnout in the Democrat-leaning parts of the state if they are going to win statewide races (presidential, gubernatorial or U.S. Senate) in the future. And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, during a June 4 appearance on Steve Bannon's podcast, essentially admitted that voter suppression helped former President Donald Trump win Texas in 2020.

Paxton told Bannon, who served as White House chief strategist in the Trump Administration in 2017 following his years as chairman of Breitbart News, that had his office not blocked Harris County from sending out mail-in ballot applications to its residents, Trump would have lost Texas in 2020. Harris County includes Democrat-leaning Houston.

"Trump won by 620,000 votes in Texas," Paxton told Bannon. "(The) Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million. Those were all illegal, and we were able to stop every one of them."

What Paxton described as "mail-in ballots" were mail-in ballot applications. There's a difference between sending out 2.5 applications for mail-in ballots and actually sending out 2.5 mail-in ballots. And there was nothing evil or sinister about the applications that Harris County officials wanted to send out, as Paxton claimed.

Nonetheless, Paxton's comments were revealing, as they underscore the fact that far-right Republicans like Paxton and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are scared to death of the possibility of Democrats ramping up voter turnout in the more Democratic parts of the state — which include not only Houston (which hasn't had a Republican mayor since the early 1980s), but also, Austin, El Paso, Dallas and San Antonio. However, the Texas GOP has a very strong ground game in countless rural counties in North Texas and Central Texas, and they really know how to turn out the Republican base in those areas of the state.

Journalist Sharon Zhang, reporting on the interview in Truthout on June 7, stresses that it's "unclear" whether or not Trump "would have actually won the state if Harris County had been allowed to follow through on its plan to make voting more accessible."

"While President Joe Biden won the county by a 13-point margin or nearly 220,000 votes, with record-breaking voter turnout, Trump carried the state with over 600,000 votes," Zhang explains. "Regardless of whether the results would have been any different for Biden had Harris County been able to send out mail-in ballot applications, Paxton's statement about the election results seven months after the fact is revealing of how conservatives view elections and voting rights. Rather than ensuring that elections are conducted fairly, they openly support blocking access to the ballot by any means necessary — especially among voters in more Democratic leaning and non-White areas."

Zhang continues, "Paxton, after all, is the same person who sued to disenfranchise millions of voters in battleground states following Biden's victory in the 2020 elections. Regardless of whether Paxton's lawsuit against the mail-in ballot applications handed Trump his victory in Texas, it was certainly one more tool in the GOP's voter-suppression toolbox for the state."

Indicted For Securities Fraud, Attorney General Is Asking Texans To Reelect Him

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of Texas, is under indictment for insider trading and is being investigated for political corruption. Still, he said Tuesday, he is fully planning to run for reelection next year.

After Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced he is "seriously considering" a 2022 primary challenge to Paxton, the embattled incumbent confirmed on Tuesday that he is running for another term.

Paxton mocked Bush, the grandson of George H.W. Bush and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on a Dallas radio show for running because he "hates being land commissioner" and sees the attorney general job as a stepping stone to running for president.

Paxton questioned whether Bush is qualified for the position of attorney general, saying, "He hasn't even proved himself in [his current job], let alone a job like this, which takes a lot of legal ability, which he" doesn't have.

But Paxton's own ability to follow the law has been very much in dispute since he was elected attorney general in 2014.

In July 2015, a Texas grand jury indicted him on two criminal charges of securities fraud and one of failing to register with the state as an investment adviser. He allegedly had offered to sell stock in a tech company without disclosing that he was being paid by that business.

"I am innocent of these charges," he claimed at the time. "It is a travesty that some would attempt to hijack our system of justice to achieve political ends they could not accomplish at the ballot box." The case has still not come to trial.

Last September, a group of senior Paxton staffers asked the federal government to investigate him for "improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses." The whistleblowers pointed to allegations that Paxton had used his position to do special favors for Nate Paul, a real estate developer and a top donor to Paxton. The FBI is reportedly investigating Paxton's actions.

Days after the staffers came forward, Paxton released a statement decrying "false allegations" by "rogue employees."

By November, six of the whistleblowers had alleged retaliation by Paxton, and four of them had been fired from their positions.

On January 6, Paxton appeared at a rally near the White House and egged on Donald Trump supporters, telling them, "We're here. We will not quit fighting." After the crowd marched to the Capitol and rioted, Paxton falsely claimed the attackers were "not Trump supporters."

When news organizations requested copies of work-related messages and emails sent by Paxton while he was in Washington for the rally, Paxton refused to release them.

Last month, two former Paxton business partners successfully named him as a "responsible third party" in another unrelated securities fraud case. They say that in his role as a lawyer for a Texas company, Paxton "committed legal malpractice." He has not been charged with any crime in that matter.

A Paxton spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Contrary to his assertions of great legal skill, Paxton has lost a lot of his cases as attorney general.

In 2016, the conservative Texas Supreme Court rejected his attempt to nullify the first same-sex marriage conducted in Texas. Paxton has consistently opposed equal treatment for LGBTQ people.

In December, he was behind a failed lawsuit to get the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out 2020 presidential electors for Joe Biden in four states and make Trump the winner of the election.

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in response, "From the brief, it looks like a fella begging for a pardon filed a PR stunt rather than a lawsuit — as all of its assertions have already been rejected by federal courts and Texas' own solicitor general isn't signing on."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Texas Attorney General Paxton Won't Release Texts He Sent During Capitol Riot

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is refusing to release text messages that he either sent or received while attending the pro-Donald Trump rally that devolved into the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan 6, which resulted in five casualties. Several news outlets are attempting to obtain copies of the attorney general’s work-related email and text communications, despite Paxton’s office being uncooperative. The Texas Public Information Act ensures the public’s right to public officials’ government records. Lauren Downey, the public information coordinator at the Office of the Attorney General, said, “The...

Supreme Court Drop Kicks Texas Complaint That Trump Called ‘The Big One’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As was expected by countless legal observers, the United States Supreme Court threw out a Texas lawsuit on Friday night that had sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The court said that Texas, which argued that four key swing states that had voted for President-elect Joe Biden had improperly conducted their elections, didn't have standing to bring its case.

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Crooked Texas Attorney General Slapped Down In Supreme Court Brief

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Thursday filed a response to Texas' lawsuit — which asks the United States Supreme Court to invalidate the presidential election results in the Keystone State along with three others President-elect Joe Biden won — slamming it as an "affront to principles of constitutional democracy."

The response dismantles the lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton line by line to show that there is no conceivable way the Supreme Court could simply throw out the ballots of millions of voters that were legally cast.

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'Craziest’: Texas Attorney General Urges Supreme Court To Overturn Election

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to block four states in which Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election from certifying their election results.

The suit, State of Texas v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State of Georgia, State of Michigan, and State of Wisconsin, also asks the court to require those states to hold entirely new elections — a move to try to buy time for Trump to come up with a way to steal the 2020 election that he lost in a "landslide."

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