Texas AG Faces Ethics Complaint

Maxey attacks Paxton over marriage equality opinion

Former state rep Glen Maxey joins the list of people questioning Attorney General Ken Paxton's ethics.
Former state rep Glen Maxey joins the list of people questioning Attorney General Ken Paxton's ethics. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

As if Attorney General Ken Paxton didn't have enough troubles with a potential felony indictment, now he'll be fighting off an ethics complaint over his opinion on same-sex marriage.

By opinion, we don't mean his own clearly established distaste for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Instead, it's the legal opinion he issued on marriage equality at the behest of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. On June 28, in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling, he argued that county clerks can refuse to issue a marriage license based on their own religious beliefs.

As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, county clerks were furious about this ruling, as Paxton was effectively telling them, it's OK to not follow the law, but you will most likely get sued. The fact he put the onus on them, rather than making a statewide statement, put the clerks personally at risk of prosecution, while the state could posture and keep its hands clean. After all, for all the weight of his office, this a non-binding opinion.

Now long-time Travis County Democratic mainstay Glen Maxey has savaged that opinion as nothing more than political cant, and filed a complaint with the Texas State Bar Association against Paxton. In it, the Texas Democratic Party county affairs director alleges multiple violations by Paxton of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, including that Paxton made a false statement of law that is "flatly inconsistent with the United States Constitution", as well as violating the statutes defining his official duties, the oath of office as attorney general, and the terms of his license to practice law in the state of Texas.

In a statement Maxey, who was Texas' first openly gay state representative, writes, "“It’s irresponsible for an elected official – and a lawyer – to tell other elected officials to break the law. He’s misleading county and state officials based on a false premise that they can discriminate against same-sex couples."

It's another bad moment for Paxton. Special prosecutors are set to present a first-degree felony securities fraud case to a grand jury in County Court this week.

Read Maxey's complaint here.

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Ken Paxton, Attorney General, Glen Maxey, Marriage Equality

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