AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stood alongside then-President Donald Trump at a rally before the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Two top aides to Paxton traveled to Washington that week, too: First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster and Communications Deputy Director Kimberly Hubbard.
Webster visited to meet with senior White House officials nearly one month after Texas’ lawsuit to overturn election results in four battleground states was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to his travel records.
Webster was hired in October after an exodus of top officials in Paxton’s office who accused Texas’ attorney general of misusing the office to benefit a wealthy friend and donor to his political campaign.
Paxton’s office has not answered repeated requests for clarification from KXAN about who Webster met with and why he was meeting with them. His travel and expenses in Washington cost taxpayers $1,080 from Jan. 5-7, according to a records obtained through a public information request.
In December, Paxton announced that Texas would lead a multistate antitrust lawsuit against Google, though its unclear if Webster’s visit with White House officials involved the case.
Hubbard travelled to Washington on Jan. 5 and left Jan. 7, too. She stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington the first night and the Alexandrian Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, the second night. Hubbard only sought reimbursement for personal car travel in Virginia, meals and her hotel stays, for a total of just over $700, according to records from Paxton’s office.
Hubbard’s transportation request form says she was “traveling to Washington DC to staff the Attorney General on state business.”
On Jan. 6, Hubbard “entered away status at 8:30 a.m. to attend to matters unrelated to state business, and resumed travel status at 1:00 p.m.,” according to her travel voucher. Paxton’s office did not respond to KXAN’s questions asking with whom Hubbard and Webster met with and their locations on Jan. 6.
KXAN obtained the travel records in response to requests for all costs associated with Paxton’s travel to D.C.
KXAN also requested records of all the costs associated with Paxton’s December lawsuit against Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. That lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, also ties Paxton to activities in Washington and the Trump administration.
Cost of failed election lawsuit
Paxton’s motion, filed Dec. 7 in U.S. Supreme Court, argued the 2020 presidential election “suffered from significant and unconstitutional irregularities” in the defendant states, and the appearance of irregularities in those states was “consistent with the unconstitutional relaxation of ballot-integrity protections” in their election laws.
Paxton’s motion called on the Supreme Court to stop the use of the states’ election results and have those states’ legislatures to appoint electors. According to a New York Times report, the lawsuit was written by outside parties, and Paxton’s own solicitor general declined to sign onto it.
The Supreme Court denied Paxton’s motion to file his complaint on Dec. 11. The motion was originally submitted by Paxton, Webster and a third attorney: Lawrence Joseph.
Joseph is Washington attorney and does not work in Paxton’s office. Paxton appointed him on Dec. 7 to serve as special counsel and assist with the case.
Joseph agreed to work at no cost to the state, according to his appointment letter. Paxton’s office later received two invoices–dated Dec. 7 and 11–totaling just under $12,000 from Wilson-Epes Printing Co. Inc. in Washington. The invoices note: “Attn: Lawrence J. Joseph Esq.”
In an email to KXAN, Joseph said those invoices were “for the third-party costs of printing and serving the briefs, not for professional services.” Joseph referred all questions back to Paxton’s office, which has not responded to multiple emails from KXAN.