Paxton Decries Austin Corruption in Pitch
for House Challengers in Payback Effort

Capitol Inside
November 17, 2023

Attorney General Ken Paxton escalated a crusade against corruption in the Capital City swamp on Friday when served up endorsements for a handful of challengers in primary fights with Texas House Republicans who tried to oust him from office and two incumbents who opposed his impeachment during the spring.

Paxton previewed the theme of an impeachment revenge tour when he recommended Collin County plumbing company owner Keresa Richardson in the House District 61 race that features rookie Republican State Rep. Frederick Frazier of McKinney on the GOP primary ballot in 2024.

"With scandals and political corruption running wild in Austin and Collin County, anyone that could provide fresh new leadership should be given a chance," Paxton said in a statement that he posted on X.

Paxton endorsed Chuck Branch in HD 61 more than a month ago. It wasn't clear today whether he was withdrawing support for Branch or simply backing Richardson and Branch as well in their bids to replace Frazier in the Legislature's lower chamber.

The attorney general also pitched his support behind Vince Gallo and Mitch Little in a pair of Denton County races for seats that freshmen State Reps. Ben Bumgarner of Flower Mound and Kronda Thimesch of Lewisville are seeking again at the polls next year. Paxton didn't the first-term representatives who he's targeting by name with the endorsements for Richardson, Gallo and Little.

But Paxton called out State Rep. David Spiller of Jacksboro specifically when he threw his muscle behind Kerri Kingsbery of Tioga in the Republican primary election in House District 68.

Spiller "is a `former' Democrat who never left his liberal values behind. He has been bad for Texas and bad for conservative values," Paxton said. "It is clear there is nothing he won't do for liberal Speaker Dade Phelan, and there's nothing he will do for the people of his own district."

Paxton didn't refer to GOP State Rep. Jared Patterson of Frisco by name but tailored an endorsement for Cynthia Figueroa to apply to the incumbent. Patterson has emerged in recent months as a top enforcer for Phelan's team on a mission to clean up corruption himself after the failed attempt to oust the attorney general from the job to which he was elected three times at the ballot box.

"Cynthia Figueroa is a principled conservative leader that the voters of District 106 can trust," the AG said. "In a time when Austin politicians have continued to embarrass constituents, I have hope Figueroa will lead District 106 with dignity and integrity."

Spiller is a rising star on the Phelan team in his sophomore term - having served as a top lawyer and investigator for the House in the Paxton impeachment. Spiller served as the chief author on a border security bill that the House sent to Governor Greg Abbott earlier this week. The measure is a radical proposal that would give the police the power to arrest migrants who local magistrate judges could deport. It would appear to have no chance to survive in the federal courts for a variety of reasons.

Paxton dished out endorsements for veteran State Reps. Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches and John Smithee of Amarillo - a pair of Republicans who spoke against the impeachment on the House floor when 60 GOP representatives voted to throw the AG out. Joanne Shofner and Jamie Haynes are taking aim at Clardy and Smithee respectively in the GOP primary election in 2024.

Paxton's support for Little is no secret as a lawyer for the defense in the Senate trial when the AG was acquitted on all impeachment counts. "I trust he will deliver in Austin and fight the ongoing political corruption that has overtaken our capital," Paxton said of Little in the House District 65 contest.

more to come ...







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