Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, has been ordered to release documents and letters relating to his participation in last year’s rally leading up to the January 6 storming of the Capitol.
In a letter Thursday, the Travis County District Attorney’s office, Jose Garza, gave Paxton four days to turn over the information and told him he was in violation of the state’s Public Records Act. The letter warned that if he did not comply with the order, Garza would sue Paxton and the attorney general’s office.
The DA’s office took action after editors of the state’s five largest newspapers complained that Paxton had illegally withheld information.
Under the Texas Public Information Act, the public is entitled to obtain government records, even if they are kept on personal devices, such as a mobile phone or in official online accounts. Paxton is supposed to be responsible for getting some officials to follow the Open Records Act.
Paxton’s office prohibited the disclosure of all emails and texts sent on January 6, 2021, and the days before and after the mutiny, claiming attorney-client privilege, apparently in connection with various investigations against Paxton.
The US House of Representatives selection committee investigating the Capitol riots is also seeking Paxton’s communications with the Trump administration regarding the January 6 events.
Paxton has been a vocal supporter of the baseless claim of presidential election fraud against Trump, joining a failed lawsuit to obstruct the legitimate election of President Joe Biden.
Both Paxton and his wife, Republican Senator Angela McKinney, attended the January 6 rally at which Trump asked his supporters to march through the Capitol and “fight like hell.” Paxton addressed the rally, urging Trump supporters to never “stop fighting”.
This isn’t the first time Paxton has run into trouble in his position. He is also the subject of a federal investigation for alleged misuse of his office to aid a campaign donor. The whistleblower in this case is suing Paxton for their subsequent dismissal from their government jobs. Paxton is also fighting a criminal indictment for securities fraud.
The two-term attorney general is considered so politically weak that three strong Republican candidates—state land commissioner George B. Bush (son of Jeb Bush), Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and U.S. Representative Louis Gummert – are fighting against him in the primary.
Trump has already endorsed Paxton.
Paxton has yet to respond to the order from the attorney general’s office.
The newspapers represented in the complaint are located in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth.
The full letter to Paxton can be found here.