Bar Associations

Texas attorney general bars lawyers in his office from speaking at State Bar of Texas events

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Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Photo from the Texas attorney general’s office.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken another step to signal his displeasure with the State Bar of Texas after the group filed an ethics complaint against him.

Paxton’s office is barring lawyers in his office from speaking at bar events and is refusing to pay lawyers to attend them, the Texas Tribune reports.

The new policy was announced in an internal email obtained by the Texas Tribune. The email author was Shawn Cowles, Paxton’s deputy attorney general for civil litigation.

The state bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline filed the ethics petition against Paxton on May 25. It stems from Paxton’s unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election in four battleground states, which was filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2020.

The ethics petition says Paxton’s suit contained several misrepresentations, including that Texas had “uncovered substantial evidence” raising serious doubts about the integrity of the election process.

Cowley’s email said the ethics complaint was “just the latest instance in the bar’s ongoing evolution into a partisan advocacy group,” according to the Texas Tribune. Paxton has previously alleged that the ethics petition was politically motivated, a claim that he also made when seeking dismissal of the ethics complaint.

“There is nothing dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful about what the attorney general did or filed,” he argued in his answer to the ethics petition, filed in Collin County, Texas. He urged dismissal on the ground that the Commission for Lawyer Discipline is a “quasi-judicial body” that can’t police the decisions of a member of the executive branch such as Paxton.

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