Texas state prosecutor faces ethics complaint over election suit; AG Paxton says he's next

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Texas disciplinary authorities on Friday filed a lawsuit against a Texas assistant attorney general for alleged “dishonest” assertions in a U.S. Supreme Court case claiming that voting machines had switched votes.

The Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline filed the ethics complaint against Brent Edward Webster in Williamson County, Texas. Webster is a top deputy in the office, report the Associated Press, Courthouse News Service, Law360 and the Texas Tribune.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the commission—a standing committee of the State Bar of Texas—is also planning to file a complaint against him for his role in filing the election challenge.

“I am certain that the bar will not only lose but be fully exposed for what they are: a liberal activist group masquerading as a neutral professional association,” Paxton tweeted May 6.

“Texas Bar: I’ll see you and the leftists that control you in court,” he wrote.

Paxton was given a choice to have the ethics complaint heard by a jury or in an administrative hearing, according to the Texas Tribune. He apparently chose a jury trial, which is why the ethics complaint would be filed in the form of a lawsuit.

Paxton’s election lawsuit was filed directly in the Supreme Court, invoking the high court’s original jurisdiction to resolve disputes among the states. The suit sought to overturn election results in the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit in December 2020, holding that Texas did not have standing to challenge the way that another state conducts its elections.

In the ethics complaint filed against Webster, the lawyer discipline commission said the election lawsuit filed in December 2020 misrepresented to the Supreme Court that:

• “An outcome determinative number of votes were tied to unregistered voters.”

• “Votes were switched by a glitch with” voting machines.

• State actors “unconstitutionally revised their state’s election statutes.’

• “‘Illegal votes’ had been cast that affected the outcome of the election.”

Those representations were “dishonest” and not supported by credible or admissible evidence, the ethics complaint said. The election lawsuit also failed to disclose that some of the representations were adjudicated or dismissed in court, the complaint said.

The complaint against Webster was filed a week before early voting began in Paxton’s GOP runoff for attorney general, the Texas Tribune points out. Paxton is facing a challenge from George P. Bush, the commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.

Paxton’s tweet said the lawsuit against Webster was “conveniently timed.”

Sylvia Borunda Firth, president of the State Bar of Texas, issued a statement on Friday that appeared to be a response to Paxton’s remarks.

“Partisan political considerations play no role in determining whether to pursue a grievance or how that grievance proceeds through the system. Any claims to the contrary are untrue,” Borunda Firth said.

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