Statewide NewsGov. Abbott Appoints New Secretary of State After Months of Vacancy

The governor has appointed John Scott, a former deputy attorney general, to the position.
October 21, 2021
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Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he is appointing John Scott to be the new secretary of state nearly five months after the previous officeholder, Ruth Hughs, resigned when the state Senate failed to confirm her nomination.

“John Scott is a proven leader with a passion for public service, and his decades of experience in election law and litigation make him the ideal choice for the Texas Secretary of State,” said Abbott in a press release.

“John understands the importance of protecting the integrity of our elections and building the Texas brand on an international stage. I am confident that John’s experience and expertise will enhance his oversight and leadership over the biggest and most thorough election audit in the country. I am proud to appoint John as the Texas Secretary of State and look forward to working alongside him to ensure Texas remains the best state in the nation.”

Under the Texas Constitution, the secretary of state “shall be appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,” and “continue in office during the term of service of the Governor.”

Constitutional responsibilities of the secretary of state mandate that the officeholder shall “authenticate the publication of the laws, and keep a fair register of all official acts and proceedings of the Governor, and shall, when required, lay the same and all papers, minutes and vouchers relative thereto, before the Legislature, or either House thereof, and shall perform such other duties as may be required of him by law.”

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Scott has a longstanding relationship with Abbott, having worked under him in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) beginning in 2012 as the deputy attorney general of civil litigation.

Among the cases that Scott worked on in the OAG was the defense of the state’s 2013 voter ID law, a topic relevant to the current political landscape as the latest major election reform bill has once again been at the forefront of public attention.

After Abbott was elected governor, Scott became the chief operating officer for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and was later selected by Abbott to be the chairman of the Department of Information Resources.

For but a short stint in November last year, Scott was reportedly tapped by the Trump campaign to help with litigation regarding the election results, but then withdrew as an attorney.

While the office of the secretary of state had been vacant for a few months, the office did announce that it was conducting an audit of the 2020 election results in four of the state’s largest counties.

Though the announcement came hours after former President Donald Trump called on Abbott to support election audit legislation, Trump has continued to push for a legislature-mandated audit with greater breadth and depth.

How Scott handles the ongoing review and any other efforts that might come will be under watchful scrutiny by both those who support and oppose the measure.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.

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