Tue. Jun 15th, 2021


The State Bar of Texas is investigating Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after he unsuccessfully attempted to overturn the presidential election at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Associated Press reports, which could result in the state’s top prosecutor potentially being punished or disbarred.

Key Facts

Paxton led a legal challenge in December at the Supreme Court against officials in Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that sought to overturn the states’ presidential election results.

The AP reports the Texas State Bar is looking into a complaint brought against Paxton by the president of the Galveston Island Democrats slamming the AG’s election challenge as “frivolous and unethical,” which would violate the bar’s rules specifying lawyers have a “duty not to abuse legal procedure” by bringing frivolous lawsuits.

According to the AP, the bar initially declined to take up the complaint, but a tribunal board then overturned that decision in May and ordered the state bar to investigate.

The investigation—which is the typical course of action for responding to complaints like the one leveled against the AG—could ultimately result in Paxton being disbarred, suspended, punished or cleared of wrongdoing.

State Bar of Texas spokeswoman Claire Reynolds would not confirm the investigation to Forbes, saying under state law disciplinary matters must be confidential “unless they result in a public sanction or are filed in district court,” and Paxton’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment.

What To Watch For

Paxton has “less than a month” to respond to the allegations against him after being sent a letter on June 3 detailing the complaint, the AP reports. After that, the state bar will conduct a grand jury-style investigation that could involve calling witnesses and issuing subpoenas, before starting a “disciplinary process” that would determine whether Paxton should face any consequences. Reynolds told Forbes in an email that the amount of time an investigation such as this would take “really depends” on the circumstances of the investigation, and if it were to potentially result in litigation rather than being settled or dismissed before then, the process “could take months.”

Key Background

The state bar’s reported probe comes on top of a reported FBI investigation into Paxton and whether he misused his office to aid a Texas businessman who donated at least $25,000 to Paxton’s campaign. The Texas AG was separately indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, after he had already taken office as attorney general, and that case remains ongoing. Paxton is also facing a contentious primary for reelection in 2022, as Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush—the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—has announced he plans to challenge Paxton for the Republican nomination. Both candidates are now vying for Trump’s endorsement, and the ex-president said in May he “like[s] them both very much” and will be endorsing “in the not-so-distant future.”


Paxton is one of a number of GOP attorneys whose law licenses could potentially be in jeopardy over their post-election lawsuits. Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani is facing an investigation from the state bar in New York following an ethics complaint, and officials in Michigan are seeking to have far-right attorney Sidney Powell disbarred over her failed lawsuit alleging fraud in the state. Far-right lawyer Lin Wood is also under investigation from the State Bar of Georgia, which has asked him to undergo a mental health evaluation in connection with their probe.

Further Reading

AP Exclusive: State bar investigating Texas attorney general (Associated Press)

Supreme Court Rejects Trump-Backed Texas Lawsuit Trying To Overturn Election (Forbes)

Texas Asks Supreme Court To Overturn Biden’s Win In Last-Ditch Election Lawsuit (Forbes)

Report: FBI Investigating Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (Forbes)