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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been ordered to release emails and texts from the Jan. 6 Capitol attack

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Sunlight is a good disinfectant

January 14, 2022

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office in Austin told Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) on Thursday that he violated state public records laws by refusing to release one of his communications around January 6, when Paxton was in Washington, DC. , and appeared at the rally which preceded the Capitol siege. District Attorney Jos Garza (D) gave Paxton four days to “cure this violation” by turning over the documents or facing a trial.

The Texas Public Information Act gives the public the right to access government records, including those on personal devices or a public official’s online accounts. Paxton attempted to claim attorney-client privilege for every email and text message he sent in the days surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. The editors of five newspapers, the Austin American-Statesman, the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News filed a complaint with the Travis County District Attorney on 4 January, accusing Paxton of violating the Open Archives Act.

The Attorney General generally enforces the Public Information Act, but the law also allows the Travis County Attorney’s Office to handle violations filed against a state agency. The newspapers filed a complaint with Garza.

Bill Aleshire, a lawyer and transparency expert, told the Chronicle it was the first time he had heard the state attorney general was accused of violating the Open Records Act to protect his own communications. “When the public official responsible for enforcing public records laws violates those laws himself, it puts a dagger in the heart of transparency at all levels in Texas,” he said. “Why should other Texas officials be transparent with public information if the AG itself isn’t?”

The House Jan. 6 committee is also interested in Paxton’s communications with former President Donald Trump and has requested some of them from the National Archives and other federal agencies, the Texas Tribune notes.

Paxton, who is seeking re-election this year, “is currently facing the fiercest scrutiny of his decades-long career, with multiple GOP challengers, three state criminal indictments, allegations of extramarital affair and an investigation of FBI corruption ongoing,” the Chronicle reports. . “Paxton has denied any wrongdoing.”

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