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A candid conversation with Attorney General Ken Paxton and some Shiner beer

Texas' Attorney General has made headlines for leading 51 Attorneys General across the country in looking into Google’s business practices and for suing California.
Credit: Martin Doporto/WFAA
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton during a taping of WFAA’s Y’all-itics, a political podcast focused on Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton spoke candidly about suing California, fostering a friendship with President Trump, refusing to use the Google search engine and his loss of confidence in the criminal justice system after his own indictment in a wide-ranging conversation during an episode of Y’all-itics released on Tuesday. 

You can listen to the entire conversation on Y’all-itics wherever you get your podcasts: 

Paxton met hosts Jason Whitely and Jason Wheeler for a Shiner beer at The Cloak Room in Austin, a subterranean dive bar on the west side of the Texas Capitol that has been popular for decades with lawmakers, lobbyists and journalists during legislative sessions. 

The Texas Attorney General has made headlines for leading 51 Attorneys General across the country in looking into Google’s business practices. Paxton is investigating the digital behemoth’s advertising structure and whether search results cost consumers extra in the end.

Paxton said he even avoids using Google's search engine himself, preferring privacy on smaller competitors that pledge not to track user data, such as DuckDuckGo.

“The ultimate solution could be some sort of divestiture of part of their company,” Paxton told Y’all-itics, though he prefaced that by saying no legal action has been proposed. “That’s the worst possible result for Google. If that happens then potentially consumers are going to see better pricing for things that are advertised on the internet.”

On the podcast, Paxton also joked about a personal theory he has that political candidates with easy to pronounce three-syllable names have the best chance of getting elected to public office. Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, former President Bill Clinton and himself are among the examples he offered.

But Paxton also opened up and discussed his own legal problems.

Five years ago, a Collin County grand jury indicted him for securities fraud in a case that has never gone to trial and raised questions about his own right to a speedy trial. 

“It’s expensive and it’s unfair. No one should have to live with this over their heads for five years,” Paxton told Y’all-itics. “I want to go forward. I want to get this over with.”

Special prosecutors successfully got the case moved to Houston, where they argued that they could find an untainted jury pool.

“This idea that they somehow can’t get a fair trial,” Paxton said, “one, they’re not entitled to a fair trial. That’s the defendant. It was ridiculous that the previous judge moved it in the first place. We need to get back to Collin County and get it over with. I’m tired of waiting for justice.”

The judge’s term had expired before he moved the case to Houston. Paxton’s legal team has argued that it should be returned to Collin County where he lives. 

“The judge is going to sign that sometime,” Paxton added.

The Attorney General said this experience has also changed his perspective about the law.

“Absolutely. I have less confidence in the criminal justice system,” Paxton said. “We have one of the worst grand jury systems in the country.”

He said grand jury proceedings should be recorded, in case questions are raised about evidence that prosecutors present to get an indictment.

But professionally, the Texas Attorney General’s latest high-profile lawsuit is against the state of California. 

A couple of years ago, California banned state-sponsored travel to Texas and almost a dozen other states over what California said is anti-LGBT legislation.

The travel ban means officials in California cannot use state tax dollars to travel to Texas for anything ranging from state business to college football games.

California’s travel ban means that Texas taxpayers must now spend extra money to meet California officials in a neutral state for official business.

“I actually accused the Attorney General of California of doing this because he didn’t want people to see our state and move our businesses here,” Paxton said jokingly on Y’all-itics. “Now, you have Oklahoma retaliating. They’ve already passed a travel ban on California. That’s not how this should be handled. If the courts say this is fine, then Texas will probably retaliate. I’m trying to get rid of these crazy tariffs and rules.”

Since this is a rare lawsuit between states, it was filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Paxton also revealed that he actually spent seven years of his childhood in California, since his father was a U.S. Air Force pilot and, he admitted, it is a nice place to vacation.

“I actually have a good relationship with the AG of California, we just happen to disagree,” Paxton said. 

You can listen to the entire conversation on Y’all-itics wherever you get your podcasts: