Ken Paxton (R) was first elected as attorney general of Texas in 2014. An op-ed in The Washington Post called him “America’s worst attorney general,” yet he won his third term in 2022 with Trump’s endorsement.
On May 27, 2023, the GOP-controlled Texas House of Representatives voted resoundingly to impeach Paxton, making him the first statewide elected official to be removed from office in Texas in more than a century. The state Senate will try him on the 20 articles of impeachment introduced in the House, which charge the attorney general with significant wrong-doing, including taking what amounted to bribes, disregarding his official duty, obstructing justice in a pending securities fraud case, making false statements on official documents, and abusing the public trust, among other gross abuses of power.
Paxton is a member and former chair of the corporate-funded Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which was heavily involved in spreading the Big Lie and co-sponsoring the Jan. 6 March to Save America rally in D.C. In November 2020, news broke that the FBI was investigating him for using his office to benefit a wealthy donor. Paxton has also been under indictment since 2015 for state securities fraud committed prior to becoming attorney general. In December 2020, he burnished his right-wing bona fides by filing a baseless lawsuit urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the results of the presidential election.
When Paxton served as both a state senator and a representative before winning the top legal office in Texas, he was a member of the powerful corporate-funded bill mill known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In 2017 Koch Industries PAC donated $10,000 to Paxton’s campaign. In 2016 he was a member of the advisory board for the R Street Institute, formerly D.C. Progress, a right-wing think tank that aims to “promote free markets and limited, effective government.” R Street is also an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).
In October 2022, Paxton jumped into a truck driven by his wife to avoid being served a subpoena about an abortion case in Texas.
January 6, 2021
- Paxton spoke at the March to Save America rally at the Ellipse, helping to fire up the angry mob that followed Trump’s call to march to the Capitol and disrupt the congressional certification of the election that was underway. At the rally, he told Trump supporters: “We will not quit fighting.”
- Paxton is the only state attorney general in the U.S. who has not condemned the insurrection.
The Big Lie
- On Dec. 10, 2020, Paxton filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court against the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, calling on the court to invalidate the four states’ Electoral College votes and shift them to Trump instead—in spite of the fact that claims made in his lawsuit had already been found to be unsubstantiated.
- The Texas v. Pennsylvania suit had actually been drafted by a group known as Lawyers for Trump, but other attorneys general had refused to file it.
- When Paxton used his office to investigate cases of voter fraud in Texas, he identified 16 false addresses on registration forms—out of approximately 17 million voter registrations filed for the 2020 election.
- In October 2021, Paxton repeated the lie that the 2020 election had been stolen and he continued to lean into the Big Lie during his reelection campaign in 2022.