An automated “robo call” is using the baseless, politically-motivated indictments against Attorney General Ken Paxton to attack his wife in her bid for the Texas Senate. This is the second time in as many weeks that the attack – which conservatives have roundly condemned – has made an appearance.
Angela Paxton and Phillip Huffines are vying for the open Senate District 8 seat. Huffines’ twin brother, Don, currently serves in the Texas Senate from an adjoining district.
The recorded attack call came from Luke O’Dell with a group called “Texas Liberty Network.” The entity was formed in 2017. A call to the organization for comment was not returned Thursday evening.
Paxton’s campaign pointed out that O’Dell previously served as the director of political affairs for the National Association for Gun Rights. That organization, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to the NRA, made a $5,000 contribution to Phillip Huffines on Dec. 15, 2017. Despite Angela Paxton’s public support for “constitutional carry” – their top Texas legislative priority – NAGR has nonetheless attacked her in the mail.
In the call, O’Dell attacks the Paxton family on a number of fronts echoing several charges Phillip Huffines has made against the Paxtons. He then adds:
Ken Paxton is currently under criminal indictment for fraud charges; he is even facing ethical questions about how the attorney general’s office has spent your taxpayer dollars.
O’Dell then provides what he claims to be Angela Paxton’s phone number, encouraging people to “demand answers from her on how she can honestly fight for the taxpayer while her family is riddled with legal problems.” (The number he provides, it turns out, is not for her campaign.)
In fact, the politically motivated indictments brought against Ken Paxton have been widely criticized across the country as continuing evidence of how Texas’ grand jury system can be so easily manipulated for political gain.
While it might have been more expedient for Paxton to take a “plea” rather than fight the illegitimate indictments, that would have contributed to the weaponization of the criminal justice system.
Ken Paxton and his family have waged a heroic fight against the unjust indictments. At great personal cost, Paxton has stood and fought. The Paxtons should be applauded for exposing widespread corruption in a judicial system that has left itself open to politically-motivated abuse.
Phillip Huffines denies his campaign was involved in the call.
“Rumors are going around SD 8 of ‘Robo Calls’ attacking Ken Paxton. He and I had a discussion about them this afternoon while they were at the same polling location with our families. Let me be clear, this is not from our campaign, and we condemn any and all such tactics,” wrote Huffines in a statement posted to social media.
The Paxton campaign isn’t buying it.
“This is yet another example of a group with conspicuous ties to Phillip Huffines which is either advancing falsehoods or, in this instance, violating the law and advancing falsehoods,” said Angela Paxton campaign spokesman Anthony Holm. Regardless of who is advancing the “campaign of lies,” Holm said, “this deceitful behavior falls squarely on the shoulders of Phillip Huffines”.
“It’s disgraceful and beneath the office he seeks.”
Two weeks ago, Texas Scorecard reported on an automated political survey testing questions related to the indictment. The Huffines campaign neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for it.
Several days later, Phillip Huffines campaign distributed a letter attacking Angela Paxton on a variety of issues. Inserted in the letter was a denouncement of the indictments and attacks based on them. However, the fact that the denouncement was surrounded by a series of other personal attacks left many observers questioning its sincerity.
Personal attacks were cited by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in his endorsement of Angela Paxton.
“I had initially decided to remain neutral in the Senate 8 contest,” Patrick said in a video endorsement. “But when I saw the personal attacks launched against Angela Paxton, I couldn’t remain on the sidelines any longer.”