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Texas’ New Secretary Of State Briefly Helped Trump Try To Overturn Pennsylvania’s Election

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 21, 2021

Topline

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed attorney John Scott as secretary of state Thursday, giving control of the battleground state’s election administration to a lawyer who briefly joined former President Donald Trump’s legal campaign to overturn the presidential election.

Key Facts

Scott has 33 years of legal experience, the Texas Tribune reports, and previously served as Texas’ deputy attorney general for civil litigation and as the chief operating officer of the state’s Health and Human Services Commission.

The attorney signed on to the Trump campaign’s ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s election on November 13, after the previous attorneys representing the then-president quit.

Scott and his co-counsel then quit the litigation three days later on November 16, saying in a court filing the attorneys had “reached a mutual agreement” with the Trump campaign “that Plaintiffs will be best served” if they withdraw.

In his statement announcing Scott’s new role, Abbott noted the attorney’s “decades of experience in election law and litigation” and said Scott “understands the importance of protecting the integrity of our elections.”

In addition to overseeing Texas’ elections, Scott will also serve as Texas’ liaison to Mexico and participate in border and tariff issues, the Tribune notes.

What To Watch For

In addition to upcoming elections in November and the midterms in 2022, Scott will also oversee a new audit of four counties’ election results that Abbott announced the secretary of state’s office would undertake in response to pressure from Trump. Trump has criticized that audit for not going far enough and encouraged the state to undertake a more partisan audit like the one carried out in Maricopa County, Arizona—despite the fact Trump won Texas’ presidential election—and Scott could face pressure to assuage the ex-president by expanding the investigation.

Key Background

Scott’s appointment comes as Texas Republicans have recently taken multiple steps to undercut Texas increasingly becoming more of a battleground state, even as Republicans like Trump have still won the state’s major elections in recent years. The state recently enacted a sweeping voting law that imposes new restrictions, despite major controversy over the legislation that prompted dozens of Democratic state lawmakers to flee Texas in an attempt to block its passage. The GOP-controlled state legislature also redrew Texas’ congressional maps to de-emphasize the state’s growing constituency of voters of color and help ensure Republicans will remain in control, which is expected to be challenged in court.

Tangent

After Scott and his co-counsel quit Trump’s Pennsylvania lawsuit, Rudy Giuliani went on to represent the Trump campaign in the litigation, which ultimately failed in multiple courts. A federal district judge said the Trump campaign’s allegations were “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence,” and an appeals court then ruled the Trump team’s arguments were “light on facts” and had “no merit.” 

Surprising Fact

Scott’s ascension to the secretary of state role comes as other post-election lawyers’ careers have instead been tarnished: Giuliani has had his law license suspended, for instance, and far-right attorney Sidney Powell and her co-counsel have been sanctioned in Michigan and face potential disbarment.

Further Reading

Gov. Greg Abbott’s pick for top Texas election post worked with Trump to fight 2020 results (Texas Tribune)

Trump Campaign Lawyers Quit Pennsylvania Lawsuit—Again (Forbes)

Trump Loses In Texas: Election Audit Bill He Begged For Dies In GOP-Led Legislature (Forbes)

Trump Requests Election Audit In Texas—Which He Won (Forbes)

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