Statewide NewsTexas State Bar Sues Assistant Attorney General, Calling 2020 Election Lawsuit ‘Dishonest’

A new complaint has been filed against one of the state’s top attorneys for his participation in the 2020 presidential election lawsuit.
May 6, 2022
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The Commission for Lawyer Discipline, part of the State Bar of Texas, filed a new lawsuit against First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster for his assistance to Attorney General Ken Paxton in filing a lawsuit challenging the presidential election results in four other states.

Filed in a Williamson County district court, the suit claims Webster’s pleadings in the case that made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court “were dishonest.”

“His allegations were not supported by any charge, indictment, judicial finding, and/or credible or admissible evidence, and failed to disclose to the Court that some of his representations and allegations had already been adjudicated and/or dismissed in a court of law,” reads the petition.

The commission requested that the court issue a “judgment of professional misconduct be entered against” Webster.

In addition to the top deputy in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), the State Bar has been investigating Paxton himself for the election lawsuit.

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Before the filing was made public on Friday, Paxton got ahead of the news to condemn the legal challenge from the State Bar in a statement.

“[W]ith this new line crossed — filing lawsuits and dragging my staff into it, all conveniently timed a week before early voting in my runoff election, 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,” stated Paxton.

The legal challenges from the State Bar against Paxton and Webster began with an ethics complaint filed by a group of attorneys, including four former Texas State Bar presidents, and Lawyers Defending American Democracy (LDAD) — an organization that claims its “work is not political or partisan” but launched in 2018 citing an “aggressive undermining of the rule of law” by President Donald Trump.

Submitted in July 2021, the complaint alleges that Paxton violated the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

“[T]he Rules prohibit pleading to a court frivolous claims of law or fact and making false, dishonest, deceptive or misleading statements. Mr. Paxton’s Supreme Court Complaint violated these prohibitions,” stated the complaint.

The lawsuit Paxton filed in 2020, which was supported by many other Republican attorneys general, challenged the results of the presidential election in four key states on the basis that non-legislative changes to election procedures violated law and “opened the door to election irregularities.”

In December 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Paxton’s lawsuit for a lack of standing.

The ethics complaint against Paxton also criticized his presence at Trump’s rally in Washington, D.C. that took place before a mob stormed the Capitol amid the certification of the electoral college votes.

While Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have been mostly silent on separate criminal allegations against Paxton made by former top OAG employees, the two statewide officials have firmly taken the side of Paxton against the State Bar.

“These allegations raise separation-of-powers questions under our Constitution,” said Abbott in a press release last September. “I am confident that the Supreme Court of Texas, to which the State Bar of Texas is ultimately accountable, will ensure that the judicial branch upholds the law.”

Patrick issued a similar statement the same day as Abbott, saying, “The State Bar of Texas’ Investigatory Panel’s attack against Attorney General Paxton appears politically motivated and in violation of Article 2, Section 1 of the Texas Constitution, guaranteeing a separation of powers among the branches of government.”

“It is clear the Investigatory Panel, stacked with Biden and Democrat donors and activists, has weaponized its state-granted power, intended to protect a fair and just practice of law, to instead launch an attack over political differences,” said Patrick. “These actions undermine the integrity of the Investigatory Panel and the State Bar of Texas as a whole.”

The State Bar dismissed the arguments that it has become politicized in a statement published Friday.

“The system is designed to ensure fairness to all parties,” said State Bar of Texas President Sylvia Borunda Firth. “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.”

In order to practice law, attorneys in Texas must be licensed with the State Bar.

Following Paxton’s statement on Friday, the OAG also announced that it was opening an investigation into the Texas Bar Foundation, whose trustees are appointed by the State Bar, for allegedly “aiding and abetting the mass influx of illegal aliens.”

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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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