Judge dismisses attempt to discipline Texas AG Ken Paxton’s top aide for trying to overturn the 2020 election

First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster speaks June 9 during a press conference in the William Clements Building in Austin. (Kylie Cooper/The Texas Tribune, Kylie Cooper/The Texas Tribune)

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A district judge has thrown out the State Bar of Texas’ professional misconduct case against Brent Webster, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s top aide, for his work on a case that challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Judge John Youngblood, a judge in Milam County who was assigned to the case in Williamson County court, sided with an argument by Webster that said letting the case move forward would violate the state constitution’s separation of powers because the state bar, an agent of the judicial branch, would be limiting the actions of the attorney general’s office, which is part of the executive branch.

“[T]he separation-of-powers doctrine deprives this Court of subject-matter jurisdiction,” Youngblood said in a brief letter. “To hold otherwise would stand for a limitation of the Attorney General’s broad power to file lawsuits on the State’s behalf, a right clearly supported by the Texas Constitution and recognized repeatedly by the Texas Supreme Court.”

A spokesperson for the state bar said the body does not have comment on the dismissal and said no decision has been made on an appeal.

Paxton is facing a similar lawsuit in Collin County, in which he has made the same argument to the court. The judge in Paxton’s case has made no ruling.

Still, Paxton celebrated the dismissal of Webster’s case, which he called “meritless and politically-motivated.”

“The State Bar’s politicization is an insult to all Texans who oppose the abuse of governmental power in pursuit of liberal political retribution,” he said in a statement. “No matter how much the partisan activists at the Texas State Bar retaliate against me and my staff for working to promote election integrity, secure our southern border, and fight for conservative values, I will not back down.”

The case stemmed from complaints received by the state bar about Webster’s filing of the case to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in four states.

The state bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline investigated that complaint and found that Webster’s representations in that suit were “dishonest,” noting in its complaint that “his allegations were not supported by any charge, indictment, judicial finding and/or credible or admissible evidence, and failed to disclose to the Court that some of his representations and allegations had already been adjudicated and/or dismissed in a court of law.”

The complaint accused Webster of violating the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.

Disclosure: The State Bar of Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.


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