Texas Republicans Ask Court to Rethink Decision Prohibiting AG From Prosecuting Election Cases

Over 100 GOP lawmakers and party activists in Texas are asking the state’s highest criminal court to reconsider a decision that took away the attorney general’s power to prosecute election fraud.

Fourteen Republican Texas senators filed a friend-of-the-court brief Wednesday, calling on the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals to reconsider the decision.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican, told the Epoch Times that “there is no question it’s a huge case. I hope this gets their attention.”

Bettencourt also said the justices ultimately listened to the attorney for the Democrats.

Another 85 U.S. and Texas House Republican legislators and prominent leaders in the party filed seperate friend-of-the-court briefs, among them Texas gubernatorial candidate Don Huffines and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Texas GOP chairman Matt Rinaldi in an email to the Epoch Times called the court’s decision “incomprehensible” and said if the “decision is allowed to stand, it will cause irreparable damage to the integrity of elections in Texas.”

The court struck down the attorney general’s power to prosecute election law violations granted by legislation approximately 70 years ago, saying that it violated the Texas constitution’s separation of powers clause. The opinion overturned a lower-court ruling saying that the election code gives the attorney general the authority to prosecute election law violations. Now, the attorney general must be asked to intervene by a district or county attorney. 

Bettencourt said that, based on provisions in the state’s constitution that require legislators to “detect and punish fraud” in elections, and the senators’ brief says that that the legislature can assign duties to the attorney general.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said that the court’s opinion could be “devastating” to the state’s future elections, and filed a motion this month seeking a rehearing with the court.

State Reps. Steve Toth and Cecil Bell, both Republicans who signed the brief, said the legislature must act if the court doesn’t. Toth called for an immediate 4th special session to draft a new law allowing a neighboring district attorney to prosecute election fraud if the DA in the county in question declines to.

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