Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is celebrating a victory as voters re-elected him to serve a second term as the state’s top lawyer. His victory seemed anything but certain to many political observers a couple of years ago.

After Paxton upset the political establishment to win his race for attorney general in 2014, his opponents thought they had devised a perfect way to force him out of office. They appointed special prosecutors to procure indictments against Paxton on phony securities charges, hoping to force Paxton to resign or destroy his chances for re-election.

On Tuesday, however, Texans proved they saw the truth about the false attacks on Paxton and re-elected him to a second term.

Paxton defeated Democrat Justin Nelson, an Austin attorney. Unsurprisingly, Nelson made Paxton’s still-pending indictment the centerpiece of his campaign against the incumbent, failing to acknowledge the case has gone nowhere in over three years. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal has even chimed in and identified the case against Paxton as a “political prosecution.”

As an attorney, Nelson certainly knew that the charges against Paxton have already been proven to be phony, based on a federal court ruling from 2016. In that parallel civil case, a federal judge dismissed charges against Paxton brought by the Obama administration, finding the federal government had failed to state a claim — despite the judge being required to assume every allegation the government made was true.

Given the civil charges against Paxton were determined to not even be violations of the law, it is impossible that a fair judge or jury could find that Paxton committed criminal violations of those laws.

Nonetheless, Paxton’s criminal case remains pending as the special prosecutors attempt to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars for bringing the baseless charges.

As far as the election, Nelson knew the civil ruling in Paxton’s favor proved he would never be convicted of the charges against him. But Nelson nonetheless engaged in a campaign of demagoguery to attack Paxton and use the corrupt prosecution as a means to trick Texans into installing him as attorney general.

It didn’t work. Voters saw past the attacks and affirmed Paxton’s record of fighting against federal government overreach and against human trafficking.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.


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