Texas governor appoints former Trump lawyer as chief electoral officer

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Thursday his appointment of John Scott, a lawyer from Fort Worth, to be the next Texas Secretary of State.

Scott’s appointment announcement came a day after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick posted a statement on Twitter urging Abbott to recall lawmakers to the capital for a fourth special session focused on passing the bill. ‘a bill on “forensic audits”.

Former President Donald Trump, left, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, right, visit an unfinished section of the border wall in Pharr, Texas on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 (AP Photo / Eric Gay)

As Secretary of State, Scott will oversee the administration of elections in Texas. His appointment comes amid widespread allegations of election fraud by Republicans on instructions from future dictator Donald Trump. Trump tried to sow as much uncertainty as possible around the 2020 election, calling the election “rigged.”

Texas is one of many Republican-led states that have tightened election laws this year under the spurious pretext of “electoral integrity.” The new law, which comes into force in December, gives many new powers to the Secretary of State. The law allows the secretary to fine counties up to $ 1,000 a day for not keeping their voters lists properly and allows him to verify years of county elections. The secretary of state will also have a greater capacity to pass information on alleged election fraud or missteps by election officials to the state attorney general, who has said prosecuting election violations is the top priority.

“John Scott is a proven leader with a passion for public service, and his decades of electoral law and litigation experience make him the ideal choice for Texas Secretary of State,” Abbott said in a statement announcing his appointment. “John understands the importance of protecting the integrity of our elections and of building the Texas brand on the international stage. I am confident that John’s experience and expertise will enhance his oversight and leadership on the country’s largest and most in-depth election audit.

The ad, however, did not mention Scott’s previous work representing Trump in his efforts to overturn the Pennsylvania election results.

On November 13, 2020, Scott joined a team of lawyers to file a lawsuit against Trump trying to block the certification of the election of Pennsylvania, a state Biden won by 80,555 votes – a narrow victory, but two times the margin by which Trump won statehood over Hillary Clinton in 2016. However, when it became clear that the judge would not accept the allegations of electoral fraud, Scott resigned his post three days later.

Scott is no stranger to election law. When Abbott was Attorney General of Texas, Scott defended the state’s voter identification law against lawsuits brought by civic and voting rights organizations. The law was ultimately struck down after district and federal courts found the law to be intentionally discriminatory. He also worked as the COO of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The post at the top of the elections has been open since the end of May, when Secretary of State Ruth Hughs resigned. Scott will ultimately need to be confirmed by the Legislature, which is not expected to meet until 2023. Until then, Scott will serve as Acting Secretary of State and oversee next year’s State Races, in which Abbott, Patrick and all state legislators are on the ballot.

Scott’s appointment must be understood in the context of Trump’s efforts to consolidate Republican control in the South and build a fascist movement in the country’s second most populous state. In September, Trump publicly called on Abbott to add an election audit bill to the agenda of a special legislative session, despite winning the state by a margin of 5%. Trump has repeatedly claimed that he actually won the traditionally Republican state by a wider margin. Trump wrote Abbott last month urging him to support the legislation

“Despite my big victory in Texas, I heard that the Texans wanted an election audit! You know that your fellow Texans have big questions about the November 2020 elections, ”the letter read.

Hours after the letter was made public, Abbott quickly responded with a short statement saying that a “full and comprehensive forensic audit” had already started in four urban counties: Harris County, which includes Houston, and Collin, Dallas and Tarrant, comprising most of the Dallas-Ft. Worth the metro. Abbott stressed that the Secretary of State’s office would oversee the review and that no outside contractors would be hired, as happened in the recent Arizona review, a bogus effort that nonetheless reaffirmed President Biden’s victory. in the state.

According to Abbott’s announcement, Scott also serves as the governor’s senior and liaison advisor for Texas border and Mexican affairs and serves as international protocol officer for Texas.

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