So many criminals and political outcasts are fleeing to Texas that it’s starting to feel like the Old West again. A growing number of high profile arrests have been made in the Lone Star State for the “storming” of the Capitol on Jan. 6th including several with active law enforcement careers or backgrounds. While a few have asked for forgiveness others believe they were only doing their patriotic duty. Hmmm, I wonder where they got that idea? If you ask them they were taking cues from President Trump and his enablers like Senator Ted Cruz and indicted State Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Notable arrests and investigations include retired Air Force officer from Grapevine who infamously carried zip-tie handcuffs on the Senate floor, Frisco Attorney Paul Davis who said he is, “thankful to be suffering for righteousness and freedom”, Bexar County sheriff’s Lieutenant Mathai, Houston Police Officer Tam Pam. The number of those arrested with ties to law enforcement is concerning unless you are Mr. Back the Blue himself, Gov. Greg Abbott. He tweeted that the Department of Defence’s vetting of the National Guardsmen headed to DC for the inauguration was the “most offensive thing I’ve ever heard”. At least 12 members of the National Guard from various states have been removed from inauguration duty by federal authorities after inappropriate posts or ties to extremist groups. Abbott’s curious response may give Texans a flashback to Jade Helm when Abbott sent the National Guard to monitor U.S. troop movements during a routine military exercise under Obama. Abbott’s latest pet project to put municipal police departments under state control is just another example where he seeks power and shirks accountability.
The complicitness of Texas’ top GOP officials hasn’t been overlooked by national or state watchers. Three of the state’s largest newspapers have called for the resignation of Ted Cruz and many of his colleagues have called for his removal or censure. Ted Cruz lacks the integrity to admit wrongdoing but the insurrectionists on the Senate floor can be heard saying, “I think Cruz would want us to do this so I think we’re good,” and why wouldn’t they? Once the smoke cleared and before the bodies were cold Cruz was back at the mic pushing the same false narratives that got us here.
Ken Paxton has been particularly nefarious in his attempt to buoy the President’s fraudulent election claims. The Washington Monthly said his “ridiculous, malevolent suit” made him a “legal menace” and a “lead nominee for disbarment, fines and even prison.” His cavalier behavior is part of a well established pattern of accusations and investigations without disciplinary consequences. It’s widely believed that Paxton also has high hopes for a presidential pardon. He served as Chair of Lawyers for Trump, filed the chief Supreme Court lawsuit to overturn the election results, and is the only state attorney general who did not sign a letter condemning the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. Trump certainly can’t say he isn’t loyal.
So far Texas officials have managed to ignore their peers’ indiscretions but several otherwise ordinary Texas citizens have been arrested and are facing federal charges for their actions leading to the siege on January 6th. Private jet selfies, pics in front of a broken Capitol window, her live stream that, “we’re gonna go down and storm the Capitol,” and the loss of her book deal and freedom were just part of Jenna Ryan’s digitally documented downward spiral. She’s now pleading for a presidential pardon.
Jenny Cudd, the former candidate for Midland Mayor, and her friend Eliel Rosa unlawfully entered the Capitol building on Jan 6th and have been arrested by the FBI. Jenny told the news she “would do it again in a heartbeat,” but to no one’s surprise her attorney stated that “she went to D.C. after she was summoned by the president.”
Possibly the most recognizable rightwing figure arrested in Texas is Tim Gionet, aka ‘Baked Alaska’. He has built a considerable name for himself as a MAGA grifter helping to fuel the flames of civil unrest. His own social media posts were his demise as he videoed himself verbally assaulting police officers calling them “oath breakers” and saying things like, “this is only the beginning.” He also said, “we are in the Capitol building. 1776 will commence again.” That last line is a common refrain of Alex Jones, one that was also tweeted on January 6th by newly elected Congresswoman Lauren Boebert.
We are witnessing the reaping of cycle after cycle of ambitious politicians putting their careers ahead of the constituents they serve and the Constitution they are sworn to uphold. For their non-elected followers though, there is no such wink-and-nod legal strategy. And as long as Texas is part of the United States, the definition of “law and order” will be decided in courts, not by right wing hacks looking for a pardon.
Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images
Joe Deshotel is originally from Beaumont, Texas, but a combination of live music, politics, and natural beauty brought him to Austin in 2010. He has over a decade of experience in public policy that covers federal, state, and local government and has worked on a number of successful election campaigns. He continues to consult on Democratic campaigns and serves as the Chair of Austin’s Community Development Commission which advocates for affordable housing and solutions for homelessness.