AUSTIN — The Texas Court of Appeals denied Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to rehear a case that allows his office to prosecute election integrity violations.
On Wednesday, the highest criminal court in the state — comprised of Republican-appointed judges — ruled 7-2 to not reconsider stripping the state AG of the ability to prosecute election fraud cases.
“Our court has chosen to deny the motion,” said Judge Scott Walker in a concurring opinion. “I agree with that decision, and I still agree with our original decision handed down in December, when we recognized that the specific powers given to the Attorney General by the Texas Constitution do not include the ability to initiate criminal proceedings — even in cases involving alleged violations of the Election Code.”
In December, the court ruled 8-1 finding the state law that granted attorneys general the ability to prosecute election-related claims was “unconstitutional,” arguing that the AG is not given the express authority in the state’s constitution. With this denial, only local district attorneys will have the power to prosecute election fraud cases.
Following the news, Paxton called the decision “shameful” in a Tweet.
“(The) decision means local DAs with radical liberal views have the sole power to prosecute election fraud in TX — which they will never do,” he said. “The timing is no accident — this is devastating for the integrity of our upcoming elections. Time for (the state legislature) to right this wrong.”
The Republic Party of Texas said in a fundraising email that it filed a brief with the state court of appeals supporting an attorney general’s authority to prosecute election fraud.
The state GOP said in these rulings “the court broke with over a century of Texas Supreme Court precedent, the expressed will of the legislature, and, in the process, made Texas elections significantly less safe and less secure than other states.”
Paxton is up for re-election in November, seeking his third term in office. The embattled incumbent is facing Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza.
Recent polls have shown that Garza is closing on Paxton as he faces several legal challenges, including a criminal indictment for defrauding investors and a possible disbarment in a professional misconduct lawsuit for his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential elections.
Paxton continues to make election integrity a pillar of his campaign and recent years in office. He frequently makes claims of widespread voter fraud even as audits find no evidence.
Garza did not immediately respond to a request for comment.