Paxton asks Texas’s high court for ’emergency’ action on poverty relief program

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) is betting on third time’s charm in his campaign to block a guaranteed basic income program in the Houston area.

On Tuesday, Paxton’s office filed an emergency petition with the Texas Supreme Court asking a judge to block Harris County’s basic income program, Uplift Harris.

“Harris County officials cannot continue to abuse their power and county residents’ money to score political points,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “We will fight every step of the way to hold them accountable.” .

County Attorney Christian Menefee (D) said, “Ken Paxton has made it clear that he wants to serve the families and officials of Harris County to the end. We are disappointed, but we will continue to fight.”

Paxton’s claims to block the program have been rejected by both countries in the past few weeks. district And then to the Court of Appeals.

If Paxton’s measure fails, Uplift Harris plans to begin mailing monthly $500 checks to about 2,000 residents within two days, which Paxton claims is an emergency.

“Harris County will violate the Constitution within two days,” the county said in a statement. filing It seeks to stop measures before they take effect.

Otherwise, Paxton argued, the state’s fight against the bill will likely last longer than the 18-month trial. “And once the payment is made, those funds cannot be recovered.”

Paxton argued in a statement Tuesday that the plan violates the Texas Constitution, saying his office “has no clear constitutional exception, even for a laudable cause like poverty relief.” This type of free money transfer is prohibited unless there is a

In a series of filings, Paxton argued that the funds had no strings attached and were therefore unconstitutional. Harris County countered that significant conditions were imposed, including that recipients must be at certain low-income levels, live in certain high-poverty counties and cannot use the funds for illegal activities. Texas judges have previously supported this argument.

Paxton’s weeks-long campaign against the measure has taken on strong culture war overtones, even though Paxton’s ally President Trump has used a similar basic income strategy during the coronavirus pandemic. ing.

In previous filings, he called it “Harris Handout” and “The Socialist Experiment with” [County Judge] Lina Hidalgo and the Progressives [D]Democrats are to blame for the Harris County disaster. ”

In his initial filing, he also implied that the basic income plan was an election quid pro quo. His office wrote that the lawsuit aims to “ensure that public funds are properly spent and not handed out as prizes at voting locations.”

Paxton did not elaborate on the nature of the “tragedy” in his filing, but the attorney general has long argued that Harris County was a hotbed of voter fraud. 2020, Paxton blocked Harris County halts sending millions of mail-in ballot applications to area voters – action told to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon It was blocking Texas from going to Biden.

Paxton’s language in these filings also reflected election denial claims by sitting court members who would now assist in adjudicating Paxton’s filings.

In a speech in December, Texas Supreme Court Justice John Devine said: claimedthere was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Harris County in the 2020 presidential election.

Devine said these elections created a “corrupt government at the federal level run by criminal enterprises,” and that Harris County’s voting reforms during the coronavirus pandemic were “an excuse to change election laws.” “That way the Democratic Party can change election laws.” There is potential for fraud in Harris County. ”

“This was a complete and utter disaster,” Devine added. “This was completely ridiculous in front of everyone.”

Devine hinted to the audience that 2020 was prologue and that Democrats would cheat in Harris County in 2024.

“Do you really think the Democrats are going to flip and make Trump president again?” You think they’re just going to leave, and then all of a sudden they find Jesus. [there will] Will it be an honest election? i don’t think so. “

In a statement at the time, Menefee said that given that constant litigation between the state and the county means Harris County “has been and continues to be brought to court,” said the statement was “shockingly inappropriate,” according to the Texas Tribune. report.

Menefee said he hopes “Judge Devine will act in good faith and recuse himself from future Harris County cases, but his concession that he sees himself as helping Republicans in their ‘fight’ against Democrats” Considering that, I’m not going to hold my breath,” he added.

The Hill reached out to Divine. At the time of writing, the judge had not withdrawn from the case.

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