AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Attorney General Ken Paxton has spent at least $43,000 in legal defense fees in response to complaints filed over his failed lawsuit that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Paxton faces several professional misconduct complaints over his case disputing the election results in the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. His lawsuit did not contest the results in Texas. The Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction.
In documents first reported by the Houston Chronicle and obtained by Nexstar through a public information request, attorneys from two private groups were billed almost 90 hours for their work responding to the complaints. The highest rate was from Austin-based Gober Group for $525 an hour. The other group billed was College-Station based West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry.
The attorneys at both groups billed the OAG for their work researching and reviewing documents related to the complaints, discussing strategies and potential options, reviewing and preparing for correspondence with the Texas State Bar.
One of the complaints was filed by nonprofit Lawyers Defending American Democracy, as well as 16 Texas attorneys — 4 of which are former presidents of the state bar association.
“The goal in filing the complaint was to take away Paxton’s license. He acted unethically against the code of responsibility and used our tax money to do it,” said Jim Harrington, one of the lawyers part of the complaint.
Texas’ constitution does not require bar membership as a credential for holding the office of the Attorney General. Harrington said he believes due to this, Paxton has fewer grounds for passing these legal fees on to taxpayers.
“It is shameful that he thinks that he is entitled to spend our tax money to defend his private law license,” he said. “It will have nothing to do with his ability to hold office. So it’s his private law license that he now wants the taxpayers of Texas to pay for his defense of and I think that’s just outrageous.”
Paxton has argued that because he’s the state’s top lawyer, Texas should pay his legal bills.
“By launching a frivolous, partisan, and politically-motivated sham investigation into my efforts to ensure election integrity, it’s the liberal State Bar that’s wasting tax dollars, not me,” Paxton said in a statement sent via a spokesperson over text. “Surely they’re burning public money at a rate that far surpasses anything I have to spend to defend myself against their silly games. This is 100% on the State Bar. I stand by the good work that my team and I do.”
Harrington criticized the notion of equating the Texas State Bar to a partisan entity.
“These are all the lawyers of Texas. The lawyers of Texas reflect the people of Texas. This is a conservative state. To be elected a State Bar president, you have to have the support of that broad base of lawyers, which involves people all across the political spectrum,” he said.
Harrington said his group’s complaint is moving forward and will be heard by either a district court judge or an administrative panel.
Paxton is in the middle of a re-election campaign and still has to get through a runoff election before officially being the Republican Party’s nominee for November. He’ll go against current land commissioner George P. Bush in the runoff election on May 24.