Texas politicians have been involved in the contesting of the presidential election results far more than those of other states including: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (recently reported by his staff for taking bribes in the service of a wealthy realtor), U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert. The “Metro & State” portion of the Austin American Statesman, today, had an entire story entitled: “Four Texas Republicans Who Have Humiliated Us.”
Cruz is going to contest Arizona’s election returns today—in just a few moments, in fact, inside Capitol Hill on the Senate Floor. (See some of those remarks at the end of this article.) Gohmert has had various legal actions thrown out of court. Former Ken Paxton aides reported him to the FBI and then began resigning in droves. An anti-trust lawsuit against Google was underway, but now, because Paxton’s former deputies are all accusing him of crimes in the service of wealthy donor Nate Paul (an Austin real estate investor), Paxton is seeking $43 million to go forward with the Google lawsuit with outside legal help. Paxton hired outside firms to conduct the suit, saying, “The legal services cannot be adequately performed by the attorneys and supporting personnel of the attorney general’s office.”
This was not true before Paxton was reported for misconduct in office, as the Attorney General’s office had thousands of employees and Deputy Attorney General Darren McCarty was leading the investigation, prior to Paxton’s misconduct in office. Mateer, McCarty and Ryan Bangert, another senior lawyer involved in the case, all resigned after reporting Paxton to the FBI. All 8 of Paxton’s accusers have quit or been fired and 4 alleged in a lawsuit that the attorney general created a hostile work environment, including deploying armed guards, to force them out.
Google, of course, has assembled “the best lawyers unlimited money can buy.” Now, Texas tax-payers are being asked to foot the bill for hiring outside counsel to the tune of millions. The allocated amount to pay the monthly bills is $43 million, if approved by the Legislature. If Google doesn’t end up paying those charges, Texas will try to recoup its costs in court. A second firm (Keller Lenkner) has laid out a similar payment plan. Texas has the largest Republican-controlled state attorney general’s office in the country. With roughly 750 lawyers and 4,000 total employees. It’s for the state to hire outside counsel. Paxton most recently hired outside lawyers last month, for his failed suit seeking to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
Today, in the Austin American Statesman opinion piece (see below) entitled “Cruz’s Stunt Shows Contempt for Voters’ Will” the newspaper had this to say about all the shenanigans ongoing today on Capitol Hill:
“The Electoral College challenge planned by Senator Ted Cruz and other Republicans reeks of an audacious stunt, a desperate act to keep Donald Trump in the White House.
But this is no political game. Something far greater is at stake here, something Americans hold dear: our nation’s standing as a democracy, the legitimacy of its government coming from the consent of the governed.
Cruz, a dozen other senators and about 140 Republicans in the U.S. House—including newly elected Rep. Pete Sessions, whose district includes a swath of northern Travis County, and Williamson County’s Rep. John Carter—plan Wednesday to stymie the confirmation of the Electoral college results.
They won’t succeed in preventing Joe Biden from being sworn in January 20th as president. But they risk inflicting lasting and unspeakable damage, cratering the public’s confidence in our elections and deepening the partisan divides that make it harder for Americans to confront the pandemic, achieve an economic recovery and tackle other pressing challenges.
No kidding. It’s amazing that number isn’t higher, given the barrage of disinformation from Trump and conspiracy theories on social media. Equally disingenuous, Cruz says “the unprecedented allegations of voter fraud” demand Congress’ intervention, ignoring the lead role he and other GOP officials played in amplifying those baseless claims.
Cruz would have Americans believe that a new “Electoral Commission” is needed to scrutinize the elections administered and certified by the states, opening the door for legislatures to pick a different president than the people did. Nevermind the fact that at least 86 judges across the political spectrum have heard—and dismissed—all claims of election irregularities. Or the fact that former Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election. Or that a national coalition of election security officials, including some appointed by Trump, said “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Cruz’s crusade is not about election security It’s about pandering to a diehard Trump base that he hopes will propel him to the White House in 2024. It’s about the flurry of fundraising emails from Cruz, Carter and others seeking campaign donations to “join the fight”—as if it costs them anything to show up Wednesday and raise objections on the floor of Congress,
To no one’s surprise, Trump has handled defeat the same way he’s managed other political setbacks: Spread lies and conspiracy theories. Pressure key officials to bend the rules. The appalling audio of Trump’s hour-long phone call last weekend with Georgia elections officials shows the leader of the free world demanding a “recalculation” of the votes to keep him in power–as if the results of an election were negotiable.
Trump’s antics have tested our nation’s commitment to self-governance and created a rift within the Republican Party. Our democracy still stands because others within the GOP—from local elections officials to Republican-appointed judges—have shown their fidelity to the Constitution and the will of voters.
Laudably, a growing chorus of Congressional Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Chip Roy of Hays County, have refused to take part in challenging the election results on Wednesday. In a statement with 6 other members of the U.S. House, Roy said taking such an action would “unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process…(and) would amount to stealing power from the people and the states.”
Plenty of issues, from tax policies to judicial nominees, are fair game for partisan fights. But the underpinnings of our democracy, the very notion that voters decide the elections must be sacrosanct.
Honoring the will of the voters should not be a Republican or a Democratic norm, but an American one. The efforts to subvert that, first in failed lawsuits by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Rep. Louie Gohmert, now in the charge led by Cruz, are nothing short of seditious.
Cruz’ gambit on Wednesday will fail, too.
But what a shameful spectacle!
“We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids!” (Mitch McConnell) If we overrule the election results, we damage our democracy. This election was not even unusually close The electoral college count was almost identical to what it was in 2016.
If this election were overturned by unsupported allegations from the other side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. Every 4 years would be a scramble for power. If we overrule the voters, we can damage the Republic forever.
The effects would go even beyond the elections themselves. Self government requires a shared commitment to the truth and a shared respect for the ground rules of our system. We cannot keep drifting apart into 2 separate tribes with a separate set of facts with nothing in common but a respect for the common institutions we share.
Every time since 2000, said McConnell, such a dispute took place. Republicans condemned those baseless attacks back then, said McConnell. “There can be no double standard.” We must not imitate and escalate what we repudiate,” said McConnell. It must not be “an endless spiral of partisan venom.”
“Honor the people’s decision,” said McConnell. “Show that we can still muster the patriotic fervor not only in victory, but in defeat.”
“It would be unfair and wrong to overrule the voters on this extraordinarily thin premise.”
I will vote to defend our system of government as we know it”
(The above from Mitch McConnell)
From Chuck Schumer:
The Congress does not decide the outcome of elections; the people do.
American people elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next Pres. and VP of the U.S. And yet a number of our colleagues have organized an effort to challenge our free and fair election. They have no evidence of widespread voter fraud to change our election. That’s because there is none. They know that President Trump and his allies have lost no fewer than 62 legal challenges, rendered by many Republican judges appointed by President Trump.
In the process of objecting, they will embarrass themselves, their party and the United States of America. Merely accepting the results of an election is considered an act of political courage.
That anyone, much less an elected official, would be willing to tarnish our democracy in order to burnish their personal political future, senators of good will from both sides of the aisle will explain why these challenges must be dismissed.
What message will we send today? What message will we send to every dark corner of the world where elections are stolen? What will we show those people? Will we show them that truth matters. There will always be a stronger coalition ready to push back, ready to defend everything we hold dear.
Let those words ring in the ears of every Senator. Let us do our duty to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help us God.”
(From Chuck Schumer)
From Ted Cruz:
We have seen and will continue to see a great deal of moralizing from both sides of the aisle. We are gathered at a time when democracy is in crisis. Recent polling show that 39% of Americans believe that the election was rigged. That is a profound threat to this country and any administrations that will come.
I believe that there is a better way. Let me be clear: I am not arguing for setting aside the results of this election.
The Hays-Tilden election of 1876 appointed a 10-day investigatory commission. (Cruz wants to establish such a commission).