Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton violated the state’s open records law by not turning over his communications from last January when he visited Washington, D.C., for a pro-Trump rally that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Now, he has been ordered to hand over those communications, according to a letter released Thursday.
In the letter, the Travis County district attorney’s office gives Paxton four days to turn over the documents or face a lawsuit.
The move was prompted by a Jan. 4, 2022, complaint by the top editors at five of the state’s largest newspapers —The Dallas Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News— filed a complaint, arguing that Paxton was withholding communications from the days surrounding his trip to Washington on January 6 that are subject to public release under the state’s open records law.
Paxton last year Ken Paxton refused to release messages about attendance at pro-Trump rally before Jan. 6 insurrection, The Texas Tribune reported. The newspaper then joined several other news organizations in an effort to obtain copies of emails and text messages that the Texas attorney general sent or received while in Washington for the rally.
Paxton, who led a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, joining with other GOP attorneys general in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate swing state victories by Democrat Joe Biden, went to Washington DC on January 6 with his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, to participate in the pro-Trump rally ahead of the attack on the Capitol by Trumpssuporter who fought with riot police and threatened lawmakers as they disrupted Congress’ certification of Biden’s win over Trump.
The Texas Public Information Act grants the public the right to government records, even those kept on personal devices or on a public official’s online accounts.
Separately, the U.S. House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 attack has requested communications between Trump and Paxton as part of a series of documents from the National Archives and Records Administration, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other executive agencies.
Paxton is also reportedly under FBI investigation for alleged securities fraud.