Ken Paxton responds to DOJ voting rights actions in forceful statement — and cites former boss

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who is, as of this writing, with his second — doubled down on Wednesday against the Obama administration’s claim that a state’s election process discriminates against black and…

Ken Paxton responds to DOJ voting rights actions in forceful statement — and cites former boss

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who is, as of this writing, with his second — doubled down on Wednesday against the Obama administration’s claim that a state’s election process discriminates against black and Latino voters. In a sternly worded release, Paxton, an ardent Trump supporter, lashed out at Department of Justice for initiating a lawsuit over his state’s landmark voter identification law and countered that the administration’s actions were “irresponsible, legally questionable and partisan.”

“The Obama Administration is continuing its all-out attack on states that have rightfully opted to require voter identification, which is much needed to curb voter fraud,” said Paxton. “The real reason the Department of Justice is taking this action is because of the vigorous and persistent work of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his office.”

The DOJ’s action, announced on Wednesday, claims that the Texas law violates the Voting Rights Act, and will stop enforcement of the statute against the state for a five-year period beginning with the current presidential election. The move came just days after Paxton and Texas were rebuked by a federal appeals court over the legislation, which passed in 2011 in spite of a federal lawsuit from the DOJ, following similar legislation from other states and disproving claims that a voting law without photo ID would suppress minority voters.

Paxton’s condemnation of the DOJ is particularly noteworthy because the Justice Department’s new head, civil rights chief Bill Baer, served as a top staffer for Paxton’s predecessor, the attorney general’s office. In Wednesday’s statement, Paxton also invoked Baer’s history with the AG’s office, which began just weeks after Baer’s appointment in 2013. “Bill Baer was confirmed as Civil Rights Division chief at the Justice Department only after a process that began with the bipartisan support of former Attorney General Eric Holder and included Senator Ted Cruz,” said Paxton. “I am grateful Attorney General Baer is joining the Trump Administration to enact an aggressive, pro-free enterprise Attorney General, with a robust anti-corruption agenda, that fights for and protects Texas.”

Paxton, in the release, also said that the Justice Department’s suit was “woefully out of line with the normal course of DOJ conduct” and claimed that in the past it had worked with states “to identify and eliminate the basis for suspicious voter fraud.” But much of the context that flows from Paxton’s words in the release is more likely about the combative relationship between the attorney general’s office and the DOJ, which has been publicly at odds since a March hearing in which, during testimony, Paxton was censured by Baer for improperly pressuring some civil rights workers. Paxton, according to the DOJ, used his office to threaten and intimidate workers who had been investigating the state’s voter ID law.

Read the full story at Politico.

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