Of all the predictable things that came from the state Republican convention last weekend, the deference shown to Ken Paxton and Sid Miller by the state’s leadership was particularly depressing. Even as both men do little to prove that they are fit to hold office, Dan Patrick sidestepped the issue with Paxton, telling reporters:
“I don’t know the facts of the case, one way or the other. I haven’t gotten involved in it. It plays itself out.”
Abbott took it a step further a few days ago, suggesting that he has had a productive relationship with the attorney general’s office: “I think he’s doing a good job of working with my office on issues that affect all Texans.” But the governor also repeated the talking point of not knowing enough to comment on the Miller and Paxton cases:
“Because I don’t know the facts concerning any of the allegations against either of them, I have no basis to have concern.”
Of course, this statement is ridiculous on its face. It’s one thing to simply decline to comment; it’s quite another for the governor, who’s the previous attorney general and a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court, to say that 1) he doesn’t know the facts and that 2) because he doesn’t know the facts he has no reason to worry.
But Abbott’s saying he doesn’t know about the case rings particularly hollow. When I interviewed him after the legislative session for the July 2015 issue, we had this exchange about Paxton’s legal troubles:
GA: I have not looked into those issues and really am uninformed about those issues. But what I have done is I have dealt with him on a professional level, and I am proud to see that he has taken up my legacy of holding the federal government accountable to the Constitution.
BDS: You’re pleased with the job he’s doing?
BDS: If there is an indictment, should he continue to hold office?
GA: I can’t get into any kind of speculation like that. I’m not going to indict anyone here at a press interview. I have no factual knowledge of anything about this, so I am completely unqualified to comment.
So here we are, nearly a year later, and Abbott knows no more now than he did last summer? Perhaps he was too distracted by his new book to look into it. But I suppose that as long as Paxton continues to send out press releases with lines like “Once again, the Obama Administration has overstepped its constitutional bounds,” he must be doing a good job.