AUSTIN, Texas - This Week in Texas Politics is wrapping up with a new legal troubles for Attorney General Ken Paxton. FOX 7 Austin’s Chief Political Reporter Rudy Koski and our panel of political analysts discuss the Paxton fall out as well as how the border crisis may bail out a special session meltdown for the governor.
RUDY KOSKI: This week in Texas, politics went from impeachment fallout to an Oktoberfest special session flip-flop. Let's find out what the headlines may be with our panel. And we'll start first, Connie Swinney with the Highlander. Connie, what's your headline?
CONNIE SWINNEY: My headline is Taxpayers Pay the Price of Politics.
RUDY KOSKI: Phil Jankowski with The Dallas Morning News. Phil, what's your headline?
PHILIP JANKOWSKI: Paxton's problems are not going away.
RUDY KOSKI: And Brian Smith with Saint Edward's University. Brian, what's your headline?
BRIAN SMITH: With Paxton's political problems in the rearview mirror, state turns attention to more special sessions.
KEN PAXTON COVERAGE
- Ken Paxton wants back pay for suspension period prior to impeachment trial
- Whistleblowers who reported Texas AG Ken Paxton to FBI say legal fight is not over
- Ken Paxton releases statement following reinstatement as Texas AG
RUDY KOSKI: Now, we got somewhat of a curve ball regarding what we thought was only going to be a school choice special session in the middle of the week. Gov. Greg Abbott taking a trip to New York City to talk about his migrant bus ride initiative and give in. He gave an October special session detour to the border and that certainly stole the thunder from the extra fallout from the Ken Paxton impeachment trial. On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court gave the whistleblowers in the Paxton lawsuit a green light to continue their lawsuit. And Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick gave us a mini movie providing his spin on how the trial played out. Brian, Sen. John Cornyn issued a statement earlier in the week saying it's time to move on from Paxton. But can we really move on?
BRIAN SMITH: No, we can't. He is still the attorney general, has made it clear he's going to exercise those powers. He's still under indictment for the security fraud, and he's going to leave those friendly confines of the Capitol for a real courtroom in the future. And he's going to be a factor in the 2024 primary and general elections.
RUDY KOSKI: Connie, are your readers in the Hill Country, are they able to move on from this thing?
CONNIE SWINNEY: I feel like some of them are taking the same tack that Sen. Cornyn is asking everyone to take, and that's, Move on from the pain of this. And because there may be possibly bigger issues like the border.
RUDY KOSKI: Phil, what kind of reaction do you see from the lieutenant governor’s movie behind the scenes of the trial?
PHILIP JANKOWSKI: Folks on the right think that this is you know, the interview showed him as a first-class statesman who ruled fairly. On the left. They just see it as a damage control to a lieutenant governor who showed his bias.
RUDY KOSKI: The Paxton whistleblowers are moving on. And that's not good news for Paxton, because now this whole thing moves from a political trial, we're going to get a real trial, right, Phil?
PHILIP JANKOWSKI: And now that's going to happen. Paxton has already said that he doesn't think he'll get a fair shake in liberal Travis County.
BRIAN SMITH: They're going to get in the witness box. So, Paxton has to decide, how do I settle this before it gets even bigger? Because the civil court is much different than the court under the dome.
CONNIE SWINNEY: Just like at the state level. We're having some of that kind of schism play out in Burnet County. We have the Burnet County judge, as well as the sheriff going head-to-head over a forensic audit once the county judge was acquitted on the charges.
RUDY KOSKI: Now, Gov. Abbott went to New York to talk about the border crisis this week. Philip, the border is now going to be part of the special session. You know, we thought it was going to be a school choice special session. Did school choice just get put to the back burner?
PHILIP JANKOWSKI: Ah, I don't think so. I think he is. He has campaigned so hard on this issue that I think he has to pursue it.
RUDY KOSKI: Connie, in the Hill Country, which is more important, school choice or school funding?
CONNIE SWINNEY: There's two schools of thought on this. On the one hand, folks here want to make sure that their teachers are well-paid, and their public schools also are well funded. On the other hand, there is a movement that mirrors what Gov. Abbott is trying to get at. He believes if parents have a choice to send some of that public funding into charter schools or private schools, it may make the schools more competitive. It could also make them or inspire them to be able to tighten their belts.
RUDY KOSKI: Phil for the special session to work, this got to be a lot of political fence mending going on. Have you seen any fence mending? I've seen a lot of burned bridges, not fence mending.
PHILIP JANKOWSKI: Yeah, absolutely not. Your read is, your read is dead on. I as I just said, I think they're further apart than they ever than they ever have been.
BRIAN SMITH: It can get worse if Abbott calls a special session and we see gridlock, we see political failure. And again, that all falls on the Republican Party.
RUDY KOSKI: All right. Let's wrap up this week with our final word for the week, and we'll start off with Phil. Phil, what's your word for the week?
PHILIP JANKOWSKI: Civil War? Two words, but I'm using it.
RUDY KOSKI: Brian, what is your word for the week.
BRIAN SMITH: When things are quiet? Border.
RUDY KOSKI: And Connie, you get the last word. And so, what is your last word for the week?
CONNIE SWINNEY: Payback.
RUDY KOSKI: And that sums up another Week in Texas Politics.