Should Patrick return $3 million to a pro-Paxton PAC?

Dan Patrick File AP 0526

AUSTIN, Texas — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has cash. His campaign says he has more than $22 million on hand. Three million of it came from a conservative political action committee (PAC) called Defend Texas Liberty. Its leader, former Texas Rep. Jonathan Stickland, summons the impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton a “war on conservatives.”

What you need to know

A pro-Paxton group gave $3 million to trial judge Dan Patrick

Patrick presides over the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Critics think the millions of dollars sent to Patrick from Defend Texas Liberty are also troubling

“It’s designed to try to influence Dan Patrick,” said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “And at the same time, it’s a demonstration of the financial resources of this PAC that can be used to punish other Republicans who might vote for conviction.”

Patrick presides over Paxton’s impeachment trial. He recently imposed a gag order on the case. The lieutenant governor says statements related to the trial have been “broad, prejudicial and inflammatory” and could threaten a fair trial for Paxton. But Holman suggests the millions of dollars sent to Patrick from Defend Texas Liberty are also troubling.

“When you look at Texas, a single political action committee giving $3 million to an official, that reeks of the appearance of corruption,” Holman said. “Many would call it a bribe.”

Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, who will be a juror in the trial, he tweeted“If they are trying to influence the fulfillment of our solemn constitutional duty to act impartially: Shame on the libertarian defenders of Texas.”

Stickland responded by saying, “Stop challenging your gag order.”

Of course, this trial is already different from a normal one because the Senators jury knows the case and knows the accused.

Another associated donor Defend Texas Liberty also sent a $150,000 check to Paxton’s campaign.

“I think that’s really what we need to monitor: not so much the fact that this group is giving gifts to various Republicans, including the lieutenant governor and the attorney general, but that they are using their contributions publicly as a kind of carrot and being adhere to influencing juries, if you will, in this impeachment proceeding,” said Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.

Holman believes Patrick should never have accepted the money in the first place and says returning the $3 million is the best thing he can do at this point.

“The $3 million contribution to Dan Patrick not only complicates the entire trial, it really reflects poorly on the integrity of the lieutenant governor himself,” he said. “It’s recognized that he’s taking on the role of basically a judge, overseeing and managing Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial. And yet he’s taking $3 million from the Defend Texas Liberty PAC that has expressly supported Ken Paxton and wants Ken Paxton be found not guilty of all impeachment charges.”

But Wilson says waiting for Paxton to return the money could become a slippery slope.

“I think bringing it back potentially becomes complicated in the sense that there are many organizations that contribute to various Republicans or Democrats,” he said. “If we start going down this road of saying that if you have donors or supporters in common with someone accused of wrongdoing, you have to deny that support, that’s going to put a lot of people in a lot of precarious situations. campaign finance conditions. For so, I don’t think he’s ethically obligated to return the donation. But he’ll have to be especially aware of any appearance of impropriety and make sure he plays everything by the book.”

Spectrum News reached out to Patrick’s team to see if he planned to return the $3 million to defend Texas freedom. We also contacted the PAC. At the time of publication, we have not received a response.

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