Texas AG Ken Paxton and wife, Texas state Sen. Angela Paxton, left for Utah during Texas freeze to have meetings about antitrust lawsuits

Ken Paxton
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton testifies in front of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, just a few days before a grand jury indicts him on three felonies.

  • Texas AG Ken Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, left for Utah last week as Texas froze, according to the Houston Chronicle.
  • Paxton is one of several Texas public officials to have left in the middle of the crisis.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, jetted off to Utah last week for work meetings as Texas dealt with extreme winter weather and massive power outages, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The Paxtons left for Utah last Wednesday, the same day that US Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and his family traveled to Cancun, according to the Dallas Morning News. 

Paxton’s campaign spokesman Ian Prior told the Dallas Morning News that the attorney general traveled to meet with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes in Salt Lake City on Wednesday and Friday.

According to Prior, the two Republicans discussed an antitrust lawsuit Texas, Utah, and others are taking up against Google, with Paxton also attending a police training program presentation. Prior did not share with the Morning News whether the trip was paid for using state money or out of pocket.

“I cannot further share additional details or the specific reasons on the need for the meeting concerning Google as it involves an ongoing investigation,” Prior told the Morning News. 

A spokesperson for state Sen. Angela Paxton told the Morning News that she “joined AG Paxton on a previously planned trip to Utah which included meetings that benefit her efforts to promote human dignity and support law enforcement.” Representatives for the couple have asserted that the trip was for work purposes.

On Wednesday evening, the first day that AG Paxton reportedly met with Reyes, Paxton criticized the state’s power grid operator and power companies on Twitter – pledging to investigate Electric Reliability Council of Texas – also sharing a number Texans could call to report price gouging. 

Paxton tweeted, “They have left 3+ million homes w/o power for days, including my own,” Paxton tweeted on Wednesday evening. “What do they do in response? Jack up prices, go silent, make excuses, & play the blame game. It’s unacceptable!”

On Thursday, while the pair were in Utah, Angela Paxton tweeted a call for Texans to stay home. 

“The roads still remain hazardous. Please stay home, if you are able, and exercise extreme caution if you must drive,” she tweeted.

The attorney general’s office is responsible for responding to reports of price gouging, which particularly applied to bottled water and hotel rooms as millions of Texans lost heat and water.

Paxton spokesman Prior confirmed that the Paxtons lost power at their residence but did not leave the state, “until after power had returned to most of the state, including his own home.”

Paxton’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

By Wednesday morning, ERCOT reported that at least 2.7 million households in Texas did not have power. And by that evening, almost 12 million Texans were experiencing issues with their water service due to the aftermath of the storm and outages.

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Google faces its third major antitrust lawsuit as Texas and other states take the company to court over its ad practices

Google's CEO Sundar Pichai
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai

A group of state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday accusing it of engaging in anticompetitive behavior by abusing its dominance in online ad sales.

“The state of Texas is filing a multistate lawsuit against Google for anticompetitive conduct, exclusionary practices, and deceptive misrepresentations,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a Facebook post on Wednesday announcing the suit. “Google repeatedly used its monopolistic powers to control pricing” and “engage in market collusions to rig [ad] auctions.”

The lawsuit is the first to focus on Google’s control over the real-time auctions that determine how much advertisers pay to reach consumers, and is separate from two additional antitrust cases being brought against the company.

In a statement to Business Insider, a Google spokesperson called Paxton’s ad tech claims “meritless,” and accused him of pushing ahead “in spite of all the facts.”

“We’ve invested in state-of-the-art ad tech services that help businesses and benefit consumers. Digital ad prices have fallen over the last decade. Ad tech fees are falling too. Google’s ad tech fees are lower than the industry average. These are the hallmarks of a highly competitive industry. We will strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court,” the Google spokesperson said.

In October, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing it of using a network of illegal, exclusionary business deals to disadvantage smaller competitors and build an unfair advantage in search and online advertising. Several states including California have since joined that case.

On Tuesday, Politico reported that another bipartisan group of state attorneys general – led by Colorado and Nebraska – plan to file a complaint against Google as early as Thursday, according to Politico. That lawsuit is expected to accuse the company of unfairly modifying its search engine to boost results for its own products while disadvantaging results for competitors.

The lawsuit Texas filed Wednesday stems from an investigation launched in September 2019 that state attorneys general from 48 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico joined.

Federal and state regulators have grown increasingly aggressive in probing major tech companies over potential monopolistic behavior, and in recent months have filed major lawsuits that could have huge impacts on those businesses as well as their users, customers, and competitors.

Last week, Facebook was hit with two massive antitrust lawsuits  – one from the Federal Trade Commission and one from a group of 46 states – both seeking to spin off Instagram and WhatsApp from the social media company.

European regulators, which have long been ahead of their US counterparts in taking on tech companies over antitrust concerns, have also filed lawsuits, opened investigations, and issued fines this year against tech giants including AmazonApple, and Facebook

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GOP senator says he’s ‘unconvinced’ by a Texas lawsuit that aims to overturn the 2020 election

GettyImages 1229529680
Detroit activists from 12 local organizations marched through the city on November 7th, 2020 to call for the protection of Detroit’s votes.

  • US Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, told CNN he’s not convinced by a Republican lawsuit aimed at overturning the 2020 election.
  • “I read just the summary of it, and I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it,” Cornyn said Wednesday.
  • The lawsuit in question was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and seeks to invalidate votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia.
  • While highly unlikely to succeed, the lawsuit has been welcomed by outgoing President Donald Trump and the likes of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has agreed to argue the case should it be heard by the US Supreme Court.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A lawsuit from President Donald Trump and 18 Republican-led states aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 election is based on dubious legal reasoning, US Senator John Cornyn said Wednesday. 

“I read just the summary of it, and I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it,” Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, told CNN’s Manu Raju.

“Number one, why would a state, even such a great state as Texas, have a say so on how other states administer their elections?” he continued. “It’s an interesting theory, but I’m not convinced.”

The lawsuit, filed this week by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, seeks to disenfranchise voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, arguing their votes are “tainted.”

The unprecedented legal push, in which Paxton has been joined by Trump’s legal team and 17 other GOP state attorneys general, would deliver the presidency, if successful, to the certified loser of the election in each of the four states, where even Republican officials have rejected the president’s claims of widespread fraud. It calls for Republican-led legislatures to override the public’s vote and choose pro-Trump presidential electors instead.

Experts have said the push is likely to fail.

“The litigation is legally incoherent, factually untethered and based on theories of remedy that fundamentally misunderstand the electoral process,” Lisa Marshall Manheim, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Law, wrote in The Washington Post.

While tepid, the criticism from a sitting US senator is nonetheless a major departure from the stance of many other elected Republicans, such as Cornyn’s fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz. On Tuesday, Cruz, normally an advocate of the state rights vis-à-vis the federal government, agreed to argue the case should it reach the US Supreme Court, The New York Times reported.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has also welcomed the litigation, say it will provide “certainty and clarity about the entire election process,” as the San Antonio Current noted.

In a court filing, a group of moderate Republicans, however, including former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, has urged the lawsuit to be thrown out, The Dallas Morning News reported, characterizing it as an “unprecedented argument that a presidential election dispute is a controversy between two or more states.”

Read more: Meet Donald Trump’s new nemeses: The 15 prosecutors and investigators from New York who are primed to pepper the ex-president with history-making civil and criminal probes

On Twitter, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another Republican, welcomed Cornyn’s remarks. “[T]here is no legal theory,” he wrote, “and the conservative majority Supreme Court will reject it out of hand.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has also dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous, with a spokesperson telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it is “constitutionally, legally, and factually wrong.” That earned him a rebuke from the loser of the 2020 election, who in a 15-minute phone call on Wednesday night warned Carr not to rally other Republicans against the effort, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, is also defiant. “Donald Trump will not get away with his attempts to subvert a free and fair election,” the Democrat said Wednesday.

Odds are he’s right: Out of 38 lawsuits filed by the president’s legal team, zero have thus far resulted in a win.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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