The news that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton literally “ran” from a subpoena being served not only shows a blatant disregard for the laws he is sworn to uphold but is also quite consistent with the criticism that the state’s top law enforcement official faced during his recent campaign for re-election.
That particular criticism from civil rights attorney and former attorney general candidate Lee Merritt especially rings true as Paxton continues to align himself with both the politics and sympathizers of former President Donald Trump amid this latest controversy. Other Black voices have expressed similar sentiments warning Texas about Paxton over the years.
The Texas Tribune was the first to report the extreme lengths Paxton went through to avoid being served the kind of legal document that his office regularly handles. The report was based on a copy of the subpoena and a sworn affidavit documenting how Paxton reacted to being served.
Only, he was never actually served, as described by some wildly vivid imagery.
According to the affidavit, a process server arrived at Paxton’s home Monday to deliver the subpoena requiring the attorney general to appear in court the following day to answer to class action lawsuit he was named in seeking an injunction against the state’s so-called trigger law that makes nearly all abortions illegal in Texas.
The process server was made to wait outside for upwards of an hour before he swore in writing that an SUV drove up to the home. When Paxton exited his home about 20 minutes later, he refused to acknowledge the server, the affidavit said.
“I walked up the driveway approaching Mr. Paxton and called him by his name. As soon as he saw me and heard me call his name out, he turned around and RAN back inside the house through the same door in the garage,” the server wrote on the affidavit, which added: “A few minutes later I saw Mr. Paxton RAN from the door inside the garage towards the rear door behind the driver side. I approached the truck, and loudly called him by his name and stated that I had court documents for him. Mr. Paxton ignored me and kept heading for the truck.”
Paxton’s wife is alleged to have driven him away.
Read the full affidavit by clicking here.
Paxton tweeted late Tuesday morning that the court dismissed the subpoena upon his request, but that is beside the point of a law enforcement official willfully flouting the law.
Merritt — an activist who has played instrumental roles in seeking justice for victims of gun and police violence by notably representing the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean and Atatiana Jefferson — sounded the alarm last year about the prospects of re-electing Paxton.
“It’s clear he doesn’t want to do his job,” Merritt said of Paxton at the time.
Merritt, who suspended his campaign following a loss in the primary, specifically warned Texas voters how Paxton was a direct threat to their civil liberties and reminded folks to whom the attorney general was loyal above all others.
“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has aligned himself with the most conspiratorial, most Trumpian wing of the Republican party,” Merritt said in a campaign ad. “He refused to join his peers in condemning the January 6th riots, sued to prevent the results of the 2020 presidential election from being certified, and has continued to push the Big Lie in an attempt to strip millions of Texans of their right to vote. He is a threat not only to our democracy but also to the lives of everyday Texans.”
Beyond all of those truths, Merritt has also called Paxton an “associate of white supremacy and tool of voter suppression.”
That last claim was surely in reference to Paxton’s office arresting a Black voter named Hervis Rogers who was falsely accused of casting an illegal ballot in the 2020 Texas primary election. Rogers said he waited more than six hours to vote on the campus of Texas Southern University, an HBCU.
Months later, he was arrested for voting while on parole, which is illegal in Texas and the same crime for which Paxton and his office prosecuted Crystal Mason, who became a symbol of voter suppression in Texas she was arrested for casting a provisional ballot in 2016 while on supervised release for a federal conviction. Unbeknownst to Mason, that made her ineligible to vote. Paxton and his office ensured Mason was sentenced to five years in prison for voting illegally.
This latest controversy could spell trouble for Paxton’s re-election efforts this year.
Democratic nominee Rochelle Garza reacted to the news by calling Paxton a “coward” and mocking him over the report he ran away from the process server.
“He is running away from his felony indictments, his FBI investigation and now, nonprofits,” Garza tweeted Monday night. “And his wife is driving the getaway car.” Garza promised “to uphold the rule of law –– not run away from it.”
This is America.