Politics

Ken Paxton Declines to Sign National Attorneys General Letter Condemning Capitol Attack

Here, let us help: It's spelled K-E-N P-A-X-T-O-N.
Here, let us help: It's spelled K-E-N P-A-X-T-O-N. Gabriel Aponte / Getty Images
The attorneys general of the nation's states and territories have sent U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen a letter letting him know they are disturbed by the events on a "very dark day in America," i.e. Jan. 6, when Trump-loving louts beat down Capitol cops, possibly killing one, on their way to vandalizing the seat of government and terrorizing Congress.

Well, most of them have. The chief lawyers from 46 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands were perturbed enough by the attempted insurrection incited by President Donald Trump to sign a letter from the National Association of Attorneys General condemning the attack. Only those from Puerto Rico, American Samoa and four states did not sign, according to a spokesperson for the association.

Here's a fun test: Can you guess the name of one of the state AGs who didn't sign? We'll give you a minute to think ab ... WHOA! That was quick. No need to shout. But you're right: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's signature isn't on the letter.

How'd you guess?

The association's spokesperson said such group letters must be sponsored by at least one Republican and one Democratic member of the association before being circulated for signatures. The letter about the Jan. 6 riots, incited by President Donald Trump and intended to disrupt Congress' acceptance of the results of the November presidential election he lost, had four sponsors: the Democratic AGs of Colorado and the District of Columbia along with the Republican AGs of Idaho and Nebraska.

Paxton, who spoke at the rally in Washington that preceded the assault on Congress, joined the chief lawyers from Lousiana, Montana and Indiana in not signing, though the latter three "on Wednesday sent a separate letter to Rosen to 'echo and emphasize our colleagues’ condemnation of the violent breach of the United States Capitol,'” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

But not the Lone Star State's Ken Paxton. We asked his office why he chose not to sign and got a reply back via email, as did other reporters writing about this. It read simply: “I already addressed this issue multiple times. See my interviews and tweets – Attorney General Ken Paxton."

Which, frankly, is a little insulting. It's 2021, and no reporter worth his pencils is going to try to suss out what's on a GOP officeholder's mind without checking Twitter first and, in too many cases, last. We did, and we couldn't find a syllable addressing our question: Why didn't Paxton sign?

Here's the text of the letter from the other AGs:

“We, the undersigned state attorneys general, are committed to the protection of public safety, the rule of law, and the U.S. Constitution. We are appalled that on January 6, 2021, rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol, defaced the building, and engaged in a range of criminal conduct — including unlawful entry, theft, destruction of U.S. government property, and assault. Worst of all, the riot resulted in the deaths of individuals, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer, and others were physically injured. Beyond these harms, the rioters’ actions temporarily paused government business of the most sacred sort in our system — certifying the result of a presidential election.

We all just witnessed a very dark day in America. The events of January 6 represent a direct, physical challenge to the rule of law and our democratic republic itself. Together, we will continue to do our part to repair the damage done to institutions and build a more perfect union. As Americans, and those charged with enforcing the law, we must come together to condemn lawless violence, making clear that such actions will not be allowed to go unchecked.

Thank you for your consideration of and work on this crucial priority.”

What, one wonders, does Texas' chief law enforcement official find that's not worthy of his signature?  Opposition to assault, theft, riot, or a physical challenge to the rule of law and our democratic republic? The promise to work together to build a more perfect union? Which is he for and which is he against?

The Texas AG has already drawn fire for both speaking at the rally and for taking the lead in filing a frivolous lawsuit that aimed to force Vice President Mike Pence to reject at least some states' presidential electors, thus opening the way, supposedly, to four more years of President Trump.  Now, protesters and Democrats are calling for his resignation. He's also under the gun as a result of a pending indictment over alleged securities fraud. And, former staff members have filed a whistleblower complaint, saying they were targeted because they objected to what they say was corruption by Paxton.

The poor man must be absolutely swamped with paper. Maybe he just missed the letter. We'll keep watching Twitter in case he decides to let us know.
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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams