Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton is the lawyer for the State of Texas and is charged by the Texas Constitution to:
- defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas
- represent the State in litigation
- approve public bond issues
To fulfill these responsibilities, the Office of the Attorney General serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, issues legal opinions when requested by the Governor, heads of state agencies and other officials and agencies as provided by Texas statutes.
The Texas AG sits as an ex-officio member of state committees and commissions, and defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the State.
Many Texans look to the Office of the Attorney General for guidance with disputes and legal issues. The agency receives hundreds of letters, phone calls and visits each week about crime victims’ compensation, child support, abuse in nursing homes, possible consumer fraud and other topics. To find out more about the Texas Attorney General, visit the official website at https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/.
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THE TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL
AG Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests Williamson County Man for Possession of Child Pornography
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that the Child Exploitation Unit of his office arrested 44-year-old James Scott Scruggs, of Leander, Texas, on three counts of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony.
A CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) alerted the Child Exploitation Unit to Scruggs, who was reportedly uploading child pornography to a social media account.
While executing a search warrant at Scruggs’ home, investigators from the Child Exploitation Unit found photos and videos of child pornography on his cell phone.
The Office of the Attorney General’s Digital Forensics Unit seized several digital storage devices for examination. During an interview, Scruggs admitted to investigators that he downloaded, viewed and uploaded files of child pornography.
Attorney General Paxton’s office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.
Since its inception, the Child Exploitation Unit has made 322 arrests and obtained 567 convictions for possession of child pornography.
Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their safety. If you suspect someone is producing or downloading child pornography you can report it to NCMEC.
For more information on cyber safety, please visit: https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/cyber-safety/.
Notification of Opinion
Read Original Request – RQ-0288-KP: Whether probable cause affidavits that identify child victims may be released to the public upon a request made to the Justice of the Peace
Received: Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Requestor: The Honorable William James Dixon
Navarro County Criminal District Attorney
Navarro County Courthouse
300 West Third, Suite 301
Corsicana, Texas 75110
Notification of Opinion
Read Original Request – RQ-0289-KP: Whether section 43.106 of the Local Government Code, requiring municipal annexation of county roads adjacent to annexed property, applies to voluntary annexations initiated pursuant to section 43.028 of the Local Government Code
Received: Monday, May 13, 2019
Requestor: The Honorable Bill Moore
Johnson County Attorney
Guinn Justice Center
204 South Buffalo Avenue, Suite 410
Cleburne, Texas 76033-5404
AG Paxton’s Office Asks Entire 5th Circuit to Allow Texas to Proceed with Defunding of Planned Parenthood
AUSTIN – On behalf of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins presented oral arguments today before the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, demonstrating that individual Medicaid recipients cannot use lawsuits to force taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.
In 2016, the Inspector General of Texas Health and Human Services removed Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program based on video footage of Planned Parenthood employees admitting to conduct that “violate[s] generally accepted medical standards” and for making false statements to law enforcement.
Last year, Attorney General Paxton’s legal team presented oral arguments in the same case before a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit.
It recounted raw, unedited video footage depicting Planned Parenthood officials describing how employees in the organization had violated federal law and medical ethical standards when they performed abortions to obtain fetal tissue for their own medical research and would manipulate the abortion procedure to get more intact fetal cadavers.
In January, the panel sided with Texas by overturning a federal district court’s earlier injunction, ruling that the district court had used the wrong legal standard, and sending it back for reconsideration.
But the panel nevertheless held that existing precedent gave the individual plaintiffs a right to challenge the state’s decision.
In today’s hearing, Solicitor General Hawkins explained to the entire 5th Circuit why this precedent is incorrect. Planned Parenthood could have challenged the termination in administrative proceedings, but chose not to do so.
Instead, it enlisted a handful of patients as plaintiffs and filed a federal lawsuit, something the Medicaid Act does not permit.
“As the raw video footage makes clear, Planned Parenthood is an ethically-challenged organization at best. This is exactly why Texas made the perfectly legal decision to strip it of Medicaid funding,” Solicitor General Hawkins said. “Texans shouldn’t have to send any more precious tax dollars to such a morally bankrupt organization.”
The concurring opinion in the original 5th Circuit panel decision requested the full court to rehear this aspect of the case. The full court granted rehearing on its own motion in a February order.
Yet Again, AG Paxton’s Office Responds to House Oversight Committee Request for Confidential Voter Fraud Documents
AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office responded to Chairman Elijah E. Cummings of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and Chairman Jamie Raskin of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, applauding their concern about election fraud as a civil rights issue and simultaneously refusing their demand for privileged and confidential information related to ongoing voter fraud investigations.
The letter from First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer agreed that election fraud is certainly a civil rights issue, as each fraudulently cast vote deprives a law-abiding American of his or her right to participate in the democratic process.
Not only does a fraudulent vote offset a valid one, but it undermines the integrity of elections and threatens the legitimacy of our democratically-elected state and federal governments. Voter fraud is a grave concern that warrants collective attention and law enforcement action.
First Assistant Attorney General Mateer also stated that “Congress lacks authority to force a sovereign state to produce privileged and confidential documents, particularly those relating to active law enforcement efforts and litigation.” Texas does not draw authority from the United States or United States Constitution. Texas holds status as a dual sovereign within the Union, and is granted “a residuary and inviolable sovereignty” by the Constitution.
“Granting Congress the power to exercise ‘oversight’ over the constitutional officers of a state engaged in the lawful exercise of that state’s core authority would undermine the fabric of our system of dual sovereignty,” First Assistant Attorney General Mateer wrote in the letter. “In this case, that risk would be made particularly acute by the committee’s attempt to force the constitutionally-designated attorney for the State of Texas to divulge privileged and confidential communications with a client concerning the client’s enforcement of Texas law.”
The House of Representatives’ own rules expressly require their requests and investigations to be “related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of Congress.” There is no congressional power that involves a guarantee of voting rights to noncitizens under Texas law.
View a copy of the letter here.
AG Paxton Affirms Support for San Jacinto County’s Courthouse Crosses, Vows to Defend Public Display of Historic Religious Symbols
AUSTIN – In a letter today to San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner and county commissioners, the Office of the Attorney General applauded the county’s decision to maintain crosses on the county courthouse, and promised to support the county if the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) brings a lawsuit.
“Take note that on occasion FFRF will file a lawsuit to try to force government to purge all acknowledgment of religion,” First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer wrote. “If that occurs, we look forward to supporting your lawful decision to retain the crosses.”
Yesterday, the commissioners voted 5-0 to keep four crosses in windows of the San Jacinto County Courthouse, which is located in Coldspring, Texas. Last month, FFRF informed Judge Faulkner that a local resident complained about the crosses, which FFRF called “a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause” of the U.S. Constitution.
In its letter to San Jacinto County, the Office of the Attorney General pointed out that FFRF seeks to impose its anti-religion agenda through intimidation tactics, and while the organization threatens more than it sues, if often loses when it does sue. The U.S. Supreme Court has called FFRF “an enterprising plaintiff,” and one that the court has found guilty of roaming the country in search of governmental wrongdoing. Recently, a federal district court in Houston rejected an attempt by FFRF to silence Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack from opening his courtroom with voluntary invocations.
“We want to make it clear that your county may display historical religious symbols, like crosses, without violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. You should know that you can reject FFRF’s demand to impose its anti-religion bias against San Jacinto County,” First Assistant Attorney General Mateer stated in his letter.
View a copy of the letter here.