George P Bush Challenges Ken Paxton for Texas Attorney General

The son of former Florida governor and GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush — and nephew and grandson, respectively, to two U.S. presidents, Bush has vowed to return to the “Trump days” and to prosecute “those with the Black Lives Matter movement.”

George P. Bush gives a eulogy during the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)

(CN) — Texas Land Commissioner George Prescott Bush will take on incumbent Ken Paxton with an eye to becoming Texas’ next attorney general. 

At 45, Bush — a former lieutenant in the Navy Reserves — hopes to leave the land commission to be the top cop of the state of Texas. 

Since 2015, Bush has led the General Land Office and is responsible for state lands, historical sites, aiding in natural disaster recovery, funding Veterans benefits, and helping fund Texas public schools.

Bush has spent his entire life surrounded by politics in Texas and on the national stage. He is son to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, nephew to former President George W. Bush and grandson to former President George H. W. Bush.

But unlike his father, uncle and grandfather, George P. appears to be positioning himself with former President Donald Trump and his followers.

On May 12, Bush called into the conservative talk radio program The Mark Davis Show, and responded to a question about the state of policing in Texas.

“As attorney general, I would fully prosecute those with the Black Lives Matter movement who are creating violence on our streets and engendering a divisive society in our state,” Bush said.

As for his vision for the U.S.-Mexico border, Bush told Davis, “We need to go back to the Trump days,” and called for a return to Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy — ended by President Joe Biden after a rocky road in the courts. Bush also wants to see Trump’s long-promised border wall built and loopholes for immigrants seeking asylum in the United States closed.

Bush has also voiced support for Senate Bill 7, which sought to ban drive-through and 24-hour voting, bar election officials from soliciting vote by mail applications and provide a path for elections to be contested and overturned. The bill failed to pass after Texas House Democrats broke quorum by walking out of the Legislature with an hour left in the session.

Bush told Davis that while he and Paxton share a conservative vision for Texas, he has the ability to do the job unencumbered by scandal. Bush targeted Paxton’s legal issues and said Paxton is not doing enough to protect Texas law enforcement officers, address ballot integrity and “secure the border.” 

Before announcing his run for attorney general, Bush told Austin NBC affiliate KXAN on Wednesday that “we need an attorney general that’s focused on the job instead of trying to stay out of jail.” 

First elected attorney general in 2014, Paxton’s tenure has been plagued by allegations of misconduct. He was indicted on felony charges of securities fraud by the Texas State Securities Board shortly after assuming office. He faces charges of courting investors for a technology company without disclosing that he would receive commissions. The case has languished in pretrial for five years, moving from Collin to Harris County and back.

Despite his legal troubles, voters reelected Paxton in 2018. But two years later, the FBI subpoenaed him in a federal criminal case involving corruption and bribery. Seven senior members of Paxton’s staff claim he abused his office to help Nate Paul, a campaign donor, with legal troubles. Staffers also claim Paxton had an extramarital affair with a woman whom he later helped get a job with Paul’s Austin development company. 

In a letter, the now-fired staff members said, “We have a good faith belief that the attorney general is violating federal and/or state law, including prohibitions relating to improper influences, abuse of office, bribery, and other potential criminal offenses.”

Four of the fired staffers filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Paxton, claiming retaliation after reporting the attorney general. Paxton wants the case dismissed, claiming the staffers’ claims do not show that Paxton committed a crime.

On Jan. 6, Paxton spoke at the pro-Trump rally in Washington before attendees stormed the Capitol and staged an insurrection. Standing next to his wife Angela Paxton, a Texas state senator, Paxton told the crowd, “We will not quit fighting. We’re Texans, we’re Americans, and the fight will go on.”

Paxton, who worked to help former President Trump overturn election results, later blamed the insurrection on antifa — as did Trump.

While top Republicans and Trump allies like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have received endorsements from Trump, Paxton has yet to receive such support. With Bush now vying to unseat Paxton, Trump’s endorsement may make the difference for either candidate.

Besides Bush, former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski and Dallas civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt — both Democrats — have announced runs at Paxton.

Jaworski has drawn on Paxton’s storied legal troubles as an attack line. But he hopes to also tie the issues facing the state to the Republican Party and especially its apparent leader, Trump.

“Ken Paxton’s criminal, unethical and self-dealing behavior in office has cost Texas dearly and he does not deserve another term. I am glad to see Mr. Bush and other Republicans agreed with my assessment the Texas attorney general Republican primary unfortunately isn’t going to solve the root problem here, the contest between Paxton and Bush will be for Donald Trump’s endorsement, not to determine who’s best for Texas,” Jaworski said in a video posted to Twitter. 

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