Texas Elections 2018

Justin Nelson discusses Attorney General Ken Paxton and the media

The Texas Tribune hosted a conversation Thursday with Justin Nelson, Democratic candidate for attorney general. The talk was moderated by Texas Tribune co-founder and executive editor Ross Ramsey.

Texas Elections 2018

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in the race for U.S. Senate. View full 2018 Texas election results or subscribe to The Brief for the latest election news.

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Democratic candidate for attorney general Justin Nelson said Thursday that it should be considered a disgrace that Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is running for re-election despite being indicted in 2015 on securities fraud charges.

“We need to restore integrity to that office,” Nelson said.

Nelson, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s law school, also said that he disagrees with how the media has been reporting on Paxton since the attorney general was indicted three years ago.

The candidate sat down with The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey during an hour-long event Thursday. You can watch the replay above. Here are a couple highlights:

Ken Paxton

Nelson said Paxton’s indictment disqualifies him to continue leading the Office of the Attorney General.

“We cannot have a crook as an attorney general,” Nelson said, citing the general message that he is receiving from Texans.

Paxton hasn’t been convicted of any crime; his trial is pending. But Nelson insisted that the current attorney general should not be running.

“The standard to be re-elected to Texas Attorney General should not be beyond reasonable doubt,” Nelson said.

The media

Nelson said that the media should remind people that Paxton is still under indictment when they write about him.

“Every time somebody writes about Mr. Paxton and doesn’t mention the fact that he is indicted and faces 99 years in prison for fraud, you are buying into his narrative that there is nothing to see,” Nelson said.

In order to win, Nelson said it is important that as many voters as possible know about Paxton’s legal troubles.

“If everybody going to the voting booth knows who I am and who my opponent is, I’m going to win,” Nelson said.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.