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Texas Republicans clean house, Ron DeSantis cleans up (cash)
Texas house Republicans recommend 20 articles of impeachment for the state's MAGA AG, while DeSantis' rake-step rakes in the cash.
I didn’t expect this, but it’s good news coming out of Austin, Texas. A Republican-led state House investigative committee has recommended 20 articles of impeachment to rid the Lone Star State of its MAGA attorney general. The decision was unanimous. If the full house votes to impeach as early as today, by Texas law he would be forced to step down immediately. I say good riddance.
Paxton is the very image of a modern MAGA general. He’s never lost an election, since his first race in 2002 when he was elected as a state representative for House District 70. He then moved to the state Senate in 2012 and represented Senate District 8 for two years before running for the AG slot in 2014, which he’s won by increasing margins. In 2022, he crushed George P. Bush in the Republican primary, before beating Democrat Rochelle Garza by nearly 900,000 votes in the general election.
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Beneath all that winning is what appears to be a solid streak of corruption. In 2020, Paxton faced a “mutiny” when eight of his senior aides left, accusing their boss of bribery and abuse of power. Paxton’s back-scratching arrangement with major donor Nate Paul has been well-covered in the Texas media. In August, 2020, Paxton’s office rushed a legal opinion that squashed a foreclosure sale on real estate baron Paul’s Austin and San Antonio properties, which was scheduled for August 4th.
Paul has been the target of federal investigations and rolling bankruptcies as he clawed his was through the rungs of the real estate business. (Sounds like another wheeler-dealer whose properties are prone to bankruptcies in which he walks away with nary a scratch, huh?) But under the guise of COVID-19 protections, Patxon’s office stopped the sale of property that was over $20 million in default.
In 2015, Paxton was actually indicted on state securities fraud charges, a case that dragged on for years, yet he still won his 2018 re-election campaign. Paxton won by having his donors sue, claiming the special prosecutors on the case were overpaid. He got a six-figure payment voided by a Dallas Court of Appeals judge, and the case was put into limbo. By 2020, that case was still kicking around, due to multiple venue changes and recusals due to conflicts with judges (who themselves were being defended by the state AG office). The case is still pending.
Federal securities fraud charges also filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2015 were dismissed by a federal judge in 2017. Paxton had encouraged investors to fund tech company Servergy Inc., without disclosing an arrangement giving him 100,000 shares of the company in exchange for raising $840,000 in investment.
Servergy, I should note, made “blade” servers used in data center applications. The company failed after several rounds of VC money, going out of business in November 2017. Those investors who backed Servergy at Paxton’s urging got nothing for their money.
Paxton’s corruption, or at least his tangental relationship with ethics and truth, is part of the MAGA cult’s worship of “winning” at the expense of doing the right thing. You could say that Paxton is a “survivor” because he’s—so far—successfully fought off these legal troubles while continuing to win elections and hold his office.
Paxton also filed the most heinous lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the United States, challenging election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. The suit offered no evidence outside of the fabricated garbage that got 60 or so lawsuits dismissed in state venues, but charged that the existence of those cases must be enough to merit the ears of the Justices a hearing. The Court issued its equivalent of “lol” in response. This is also the background against the now-infamous dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas, who would have granted the motion to hear the case.
Now the weight of all those years of quid pro quo and donor cash have come to roost on Paxton’s head. His response: “The RINOs in the Texas Legislature are now on the same side as Joe Biden.” LOL.
Stepping on a rake is good marketing, DeSantis concedes
In an phone interview with Erick Erickson, newly announced Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that the “buzz” from his technically glitchy announcement interview on Twitter with Elon Musk was significant. He called it the “biggest story in the world.” A massive exaggeration, but it does have some merit.
Misfortune has its own cachet. Professional wrestler Johnny Knoxville (Philip John Clapp) made a fortune off misfortune with the series “Jackass,” which—Hallelujah—has ended with 2022’s “Jackass Forever.” There’s a whole subset of popular YouTube videos of people doing stupid things, and sometimes getting injured in the process.
DeSantis said there’s plenty of time to give stump speeches and rallies. He felt that it was worth the technical risk to melt down Twitter, which of course is exactly what happened. About 700,000 people got to see DeSantis step on a rake, and the media ate it up.
Of course, the entire explanation from DeSantis could be a political equivalent of “I meant to do that.” But that’s irrelevant. In the first 24 hours since his announcement, the DeSantis campaign has raised $8.2 million, the New York Times reported. Some of that money was “pre-placed” by bundlers who attended the “Ron-O-Rama” at the Four Seasons (the hotel) in Miami. It’s unclear how much of the cash came from bundlers, high-worth donors or small donations.
However, it’s a good start for Ron DeSantis. The cash haul raked in from a rake-step far exceeded, in velocity, Donald Trump, who took six weeks to raise $9.5 million after his November 2022 announcement.
It’s not how you begin the race, it’s how you end. So if DeSantis’ campaign managed to plan a misstep up front—or at least account for it—and smoothly recover while hauling in the dough, kudos to them. If they didn’t plan it, but walked into the misfortune and in Forrest Gump-style walked out with only a wound in the buttocks, I’m sure they’ll take the win.