AUSTIN, Texas — The State Bar of Texas is investigating whether Attorney General Ken Paxton committed professional misconduct by challenging President Biden's victory in the courts, in what a complaint called a "frivolous lawsuit" that wasted taxpayers' money.
The investigation, which could lead to disciplinary action ranging from a reprimand to suspension, is the latest obstacle for Mr Paxton, who has been at the center of bribery and corruption charges and was charged in 2015 on securities fraud allegations in a case involving not solved.
Paxton, a Republican, is also being challenged by a member of the Bush family in next year's primary for attorney general, the state's top law enforcement agency and a position that has served as a political springboard. He was preceded in office by Governor Greg Abbott and Senator John Cornyn.
After it became clear that Mr. Biden won the election, Mr. Paxton filed a lawsuit in early December that was ridiculed by many legal experts and ultimately dismissed by the US Supreme Court. He had asked the court to extend a presidential election certification deadline, arguing that electoral irregularities in four other states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — warrant further investigation.
That month, Kevin Moran, a retired Houston Chronicle reporter and chairman of the Galveston Island Democrats, filed a complaint with the Texas State Bar. In his submission, Mr. Moran that Mr. Paxton knew the lawsuit had no legal merit and any unelected attorney would face disciplinary action for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
“Knowing that the national elections were NOT rigged or stolen, he acted in a way to fuel those baseless conspiracy theories across the country,” Mr Moran wrote.
The State Bar of Texas said it was prohibited by law to discuss pending cases, and the attorney general's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Paxton's campaign spokesman, Ian Prior, denounced the complaint as a "low-level stunt" and "frivolous accusation," adding that "Texas Democrats continue to show how much they can't stand election integrity."
The complaint was initially dismissed by the state's Disciplinary Court's office, but was later revived by the Board of Disciplinary Appeals, which is appointed by the Texas Supreme Court. The 12-member board of directors informed Mr. Moran in late May that it had granted his appeal after finding the complaint a potential violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Misconduct.
Moran, 71, said Thursday he had filed the complaint as "an upset citizen" — not a Democratic official — because he was outraged by the attorney general's lawsuit, especially after a large number of judges overturned Mr Biden's victory. had confirmed.
"With his track record, I think he should be suspended," he said of Mr. Paxton.
After receiving a letter from the State Bar in January rejecting his complaint, Mr. Moran filed an appeal in which he said he was somewhat surprised to be granted.
In cases such as Mr. Paxton must conduct a preliminary investigation with the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel to determine whether there is reason to proceed. If the decision does, the charge of professional misconduct would be tried in a court of law or an Evidence Committee.
Paxton, in his second term as Attorney General of Texas, faces a tough reelection campaign against George P. Bush, the state commissioner and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and the son of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor. Both candidates are battling for approval from former President Donald J. Trump, who continues to influence Republicans in Texas.
Susan C. Beachy research contributed.