Prosecutor: Texas attorney general violated open records law

Jan 14, 2022, 1:06 PM | Updated: 1:52 pm
FILE - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a rally in support of President Donald Trump cal...

FILE - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks at a rally in support of President Donald Trump called the "Save America Rally" in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. A district attorney says Paxton violated the state's open records laws by withholding or failing to retain his communications relating to his appearance at a pro-Trump rally that preceded the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last year. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A district attorney says Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton violated the state’s open records laws by withholding or failing to retain his communications relating to his appearance at a pro-Donald Trump rally that preceded the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last year.

The Austin-based Travis County district attorney’s office told the Republican attorney general in a letter Thursday that he had four days to remedy the issue or face a lawsuit. Paxton’s office has not returned a message seeking comment on the letter Friday.

Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, appeared at the Jan. 6, 2021, event in Washington, D.C., where the attorney general gave a speech touting his failed legal push to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

Several news organizations have requested Paxton’s communications from around that time under the Texas Public Information Act. Last March, six news outlets jointly published a story raising questions about whether Paxton was breaking open records laws.

Earlier this month, top editors at five Texas 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 asking the district attorney to investigate the alleged violations .

Anyone who believes a public agency is withholding information in violation of the Public Information Act can file a complaint with the local prosecutor.

Paxton faces several GOP challengers in his reelection bid this year.

Last fall, eight of Paxton’s top deputies accused him of bribery, abuse of office and other crimes in the service of another supporter, an Austin real estate developer who employs a woman with whom the attorney general allegedly had an extra-marital affair. The FBI is investigating those allegations.

The attorney general has also spent most of his time in office under a separate felony indictment. He pleaded not guilty in 2015 to three state securities fraud charges but is yet to face trial.

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Prosecutor: Texas attorney general violated open records law