Update: During Tuesday's Commissioners Court meeting, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the court's Democratic majority decided to ignore Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's allegation that Harris County broke the law by creating the new election administration office and by appointing Isabel Longoria to fill that role without promptly notifying the Texas Secretary of State. Hidalgo called Paxton's claim a distraction, and Paxton has threatened legal action if the county doesn't take "corrective action" on the issue.
Isabel Longoria has been hard at work for weeks in her new gig as Harris County’s first Elections Administrator, a job she was appointed to by the county Commissioners Court back on October 30 after the court created the new office in July. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now claiming that both Longoria’s appointment and the creation of the elections administration office itself were illegal, all due to a technicality about how quickly the county clued-in the state government to the two moves.
On Monday afternoon, the Houston Chronicle reported on a letter it obtained which was sent by Paxton to Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan’s office on November 25 that claimed Harris County broke the law by not informing the Texas Secretary of State fast enough after it created the new office or after Longoria’s appointment.
Apparently, the state Election Code dictates that counties have to tell the secretary of state that they've set up an elections administration office within three days of its creation, and have to notify the SOS that an administrator has been appointed within six days. In his letter, Paxton claimed that Harris County didn’t tell the secretary of state about creating the office until two weeks after it was approved by Commissioners Court, and didn’t send notice about Longoria’s appointment until three weeks after the fact.
“In short, the Harris County Office of Election Administrator does not exist,” Paxton reportedly wrote.
He said Longoria’s appointment should be revoked and that Harris County had 14 days after receiving his letter to take “corrective action” before he’d pursue legal action against the county.
Ryan’s office did not immediately respond to requests from the Houston Press for comment and for a copy of Paxton’s letter. Paxton's latest one-man pissing contest against Harris County will be discussed during Tuesday’s weekly Commissioners Court meeting.
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