With the November election just four weeks from today, Texas’ GOP leadership finds itself as the center of a growing number of scandals and accusations that it is collectively guilty of abusing the power given it by voters.
What started with Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen in 2019 has now grown to include Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
It reached a boiling point last week with Abbott’s order limiting in-person mail ballot drop-off locations to one per county, no matter the size of each county. It then boiled over a couple of days later with the revelation that Paxton, who is already under federal indictment, is now also being accused of bribery and abuse of power.
Abbott faces three lawsuits over last week’s order, and Paxton is under investigation by the same prosecutors who indicted him on securities fraud charges five years ago.
Texas Democrats say there’s an abuse of power theme running through all of this.
“The real issue here is the abuse of power that Republicans have shown and encouraged for decades,” said Texas Democratic Party spokesman Abhi Rahman. “They don’t care about everyday Texans. From Donald Trump to Dennis Bonnen to Ken Paxton, Republicans have shown that they think they are above the law.”
In a story first reported by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE over the weekend, six current and one former Paxton employee accuse the attorney general of improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential crimes.
The criticism of both Paxton and Abbott does not end with the Democrats. There have been multiple calls for Paxton to resign from within his own party.
Likewise, Republicans, including the chair of the Republican Party of Texas, have taken the governor to task on social media and in the courts for what they view as his dictatorial approach to managing the pandemic. Their latest lawsuit claims Abbott is violating Texas election law and overstepping his authority in extending early voting without first consulting with the Texas Legislature. They also don’t like his mandatory mask order and the ongoing business closures.
On Saturday, Abbott’s fellow Republicans are having a protest against him at the governor’s mansion in Austin.