Texas Attorney General faces ethics charges over same-sex marriage opinion

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during a hearing in Austin, Texas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during a hearing in Austin, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Already indicted on felony securities fraud charges, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will face an ethics investigation for advising local officials they could refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses on religious grounds.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal in June. A month later, a complaint filed and co-signed by more than 200 attorneys said Paxton’s stance encouraged officials to violate the U.S. Constitution and break their oaths of office.

The complaint was initially dismissed by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas, but an appeals board appointed by the state Supreme Court reinstated it Feb. 2, saying the complaint alleges a “possible violation” of professional conduct rules.

“The complaint has always lacked merit, and we are confident the legal process for resolving these complaints will bear that out,” Paxton spokeswoman Cynthia Meyer said.

A State Bar official declined comment, but Houston attorney Eddie Rodriguez, whose firm helped initiate the complaint, released a copy of the order from the appeals board reinstating the case.

“Texas ethics rules prohibit any lawyer, including the Attorney General, from counseling a client to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent,” Rodriguez said.

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